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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Dear International Students: You are my Hero

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You are my hero. All of you. 

You moved from your home country to a university in the US. You had to deal with all the cultural differences- different food, different infrastructure, different social norms. Many of you came completely alone, to a place where you didn't know anyone, and if you needed something you couldn't ask your parents or friends for help.

For the vast majority of you, English was not your first language. You learned it in school, and you are still learning as you talk to Americans and deal with misunderstandings. And you've mastered this foreign language to the point where you can live life in the US and interact with Americans to get what you need. You found an apartment in English. You set up a bank account in English. You got a cell phone in English. Many of you have bought cars in English. You do homework in English and send emails in English. You fill out paperwork in English.

You are my hero, and I want to be like you. Could I do it too? Could I go somewhere completely different from my native country, and adapt to it and live life? Could I could master the language like you have? I want to know, and I need to know, and that's why I'm moving to China.

You've introduced me to so many other countries and shown me the world is much more big and beautiful than I previously thought. I want to learn even more, and that's why I'm moving to China.

And your English! You speak English! When I believed that maybe I just couldn't learn a second language, maybe my brain just couldn't, maybe only a few rare superhumans could- there you were, having everyday conversations in your second language. Over and over again, I met international students who spoke English- with an accent, certainly not perfect- but good enough to have real conversations, to discuss real topics, to build real friendships. And you're not all unfathomably smart super-geniuses, whose intelligence I could never hope to understand. No, you're regular college students, like me. If you could speak two languages, then surely I could too.

You are my hero- especially those of you who speak both Mandarin and English. When every American told me "Chinese is the hardest language to learn" and I thought it might be impossible, there you were, living proof that a person can speak both Chinese and English.

I'm going to China because you came to the US. You showed me it could be done. And now I'm going to do it.

Thanks for everything. You are my hero.

1 comment:

  1. Especially the language part. As far as the adventure part, lucky, lucky. I always feel bad for those who never get to live overseas.

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