"Go my daughter and become an American. Your diction must not be like those of your friends back here at home, return learned and ready to solve some of the challenges of our ailing system." Those were the words of my mother before I left for the United States. The land of opportunities would offer me the most awaited skills that I would use to transform my homeland and solve some of the pressing challenges. America is grounded on the principles and ideals of the American dream, a goal envisioned on the beliefs of the founding fathers. It defines the ideal of equal opportunities which are available for every American thus allowing the achievement of the highest goals and aspirations. This is the land I have always wanted to go to and acquire studies. Its education system is somewhat advanced than the one in my motherland even though my homeland (China) is also known for being in the list of the first developing nations across the globe.
Growing up in China was coupled with many issues, for example, the consumption of cuisine which is an important part of Chinese food. The food is distinct from those in other regions and has been a defining factor on who is a Chinese and who is not. I also grew up seeing children living with chill parents. Most of the parents were not proactive, something which also influenced the behavior of most of my age-mates. I grew up learning to speak at least three different languages. These included the Uyghur, the Mandarin Chinese, and Standard Mandarin. Most of my days were spent in Jinhua City in Zhejiang' province, something which limited the things I could learn. I, therefore, believed that however much I worked hard, I would not be any better than my brothers and sisters who lived in the best Chinese cities. Even though I was doing well with my Chinese heritage, I wanted to experience something new. A new language, a new environment and become more diverse.
Going to the United States as an international student was, therefore, an ideal opportunity of materializing this dream. I was also going to become a global citizen, one who is not just defined by the culture of his homeland but by those that are combined from different parts of the world. America has been known as a home for everyone who believes in the pillars of the American Dream. It is a country where everyone can go and seek greener pastures based on the existing development and technological advancement which the country has experienced over the years. I was thrilled and waiting for the time of becoming an American Chinese. I also saw America as a land of liberty, one which adheres to the rule of law and built on the ideals of great men like Abraham Lincoln, J.F. Kennedy and James Truslow Adams to mention but a few. I later received my travel documents and embarked on the preparations for going to stay in the United States. The most awaited moment came, I traveled and landed safely in New York City. I later arranged my educational documents as received from the University and began life as an international student.
The land of liberty became a small prison within the first weeks. I thought that the challenge was attributed to the fact that I was a new student but that was not the case. Students from other countries especially the African Continent shared with me how international students are treated by their colleagues. They, however, mentioned that the school has tried its level best to mitigate the challenges they experience by enforcing certain disciplinary procedures. The major concern was on racial discrimination, an issue that exists to date. Many of the students from the United States tend to discriminate those that come from other parts of the world, hence bringing to doubt the concern on liberty. I joined the club of those who come from the inferior parts of the globe. I had to adapt to the environment and concentrate on the real issue that took me to America. I said to myself that if I cannot fit in the general environment, then it is better I become an academician and prove my academic prowess to everyone. Maybe through that, I would have gained some respect. The result was still not worth the struggle. I had other challenges in the academic environment. One of them was on poor performance which was caused by poor mastery of the national language. The United States of America is an exclusively an English speaking nation, a language which I was not used to speaking in China. In China, speaking English is an option and there are few people who speak the language.
The opposite was true in America. There are few people who speak Chinese and the language is not used in any way to test the student on their academic achievements. English is everything and I had to learn it in order to be at per with other students. The process of learning the language was tiresome because I had to feature in group discussions which in most events were made up of people from mixed localities. My class performance was, therefore, nothing to be happy about. The challenges of racial discrimination contributed to my problems in equal measures. Indeed America is not a place of liberty to some extent. Maybe the founding fathers of the nation would have been in the best position of reinforcing the American dream. The dream which made me seek educational opportunities but to some extent began diminishing. I had to be guided by my goals and ambitions.
My experience was, therefore, nothing different from those of other students. We went through similar challenges except for those who were Native Americans. For them, they felt that they were home and they owned the college, unlike other people who traveled miles in seek of educational opportunities. They looked down upon people from other races, something which affected the performance of the college to a larger extent. The challenges made me reflect back and trace the ethnic history of my nation and try and draw a comparison with that of the United States of America. I found out that the people from my motherland unilaterally belong to a group of people called the Han. The people underwent a long period of evolution and later became absorbed by other ethnic groups. We were also divided into many an ethnic group, making it difficult to understand each other when in a foreign land like the United States of America. Things are a bit different in America. The history of the nation is traced to what happened in the past. They opine the previous United States as one which existed in the Northern parts of America. The primary owners of the land are the natives who have lived in the place for thousands of years. Unlike the much ethnic division in China, America exists as one of the nations that is less ethnic and do not tolerate any argument that touches on ethnic lines. Reference is made to everyone as an American. There is no lesser American and greater American. The superiority issue only surfaces when they mix with people from other races as justified by my case.
There is also a racial slur or concept that is used by most Americans towards the Black students. The slur is, "nigger," it is a terminology which has also been embraced by Black people when making reference to each other. Some ignorantly use the terminology but those informed about the meaning tend to keep off and even go as far as trying to enlighten their colleagues on its abusive nature. My being in America as an international student was and is still coupled with many challenges based on the fact that I am not a native. The expectations I had have not been met until now. It is my educational objective which keeps me going hoping that one day I will go back home and celebrate my heritage once again. It is the place where I believe that true liberty will be found and at last my dignity will be restored. I, therefore, look for a day when the world will accommodate everyone regardless of where they are coming from or the language they speak. When we live up to Martin Luther's words, " The day when people will surely be judged by the content of their character," not only in America but also the rest of the world.
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