Alam: Accepting, Embracing and Celebrating the Differences

Alam Chandranegara, a business major from Indonesia who studied at Pierce College, won second place in the 2012-2013 Northwest Community College Initiative (NWCCI) program essay contest. Here he shares his experience of making lifelong friendships in the United States. Read another essay contest winner, Maria, here

Sheena wedding 2 The first time I found that I was accepted in Northwest College Community Initiative Program (NWCCI) I was very excited, but at the same time I also felt scared and anxious because I was going to go and live on the other side of the globe. My country is literally half a world away from the United States. I realized that I would be in a totally different place, different country, different culture, with different people who speak a different language. However, I was determined to challenge myself because I believe that the growing process happens when you are outside of your comfort zone. Out of the many unforgettable experiences I have had while I am in this program, I have one special experience that I will not forget for the rest of my life. One of my American friends changed her wedding date so we could attend her wedding.

I met her from one of the classes we took in the fall quarter. I had that class with two of my other friends, both from Brazil, from the same program. Our friendship started when she invited me and two other Brazilian friends to her house to hang out together. We played card games such as Uno and Crazy Eights, Just Dance from Nintendo Wii, and exchanged stories at her house. We really enjoyed our visit there because she is such a friendly and welcoming person. I really enjoyed playing Nintendo Wii because I had never played that before. Her hospitality and kindness really touched my heart. Even though we had only known each other just for one month, I felt like as if we had known each other for a long time.

Since that day, we spent more time together such as we had movie nights at her place at least once a month, attended her daughter’s birthday and helped her prepare. She even took us to Mount Rainier in the winter because she knew that we had never seen snow before in great amount. It was my very first time seeing that much in snow and I felt really excited. We went there with her fiancé and her daughter, who are both as friendly and welcoming as she is. Another interesting and fun activity we had was Black Friday. Shopping during Black Friday was another first. We offered to help her to shop on Black Friday since we wanted to experience it first hand as well. We did Black Friday together with her fiancée, daughter, and niece. It is amazing how they treat us as if we were a part of their family.Sheena wedding 1

Our friendship with her and her family is really special for me, because this friendship has gone beyond my expectations. Even though we come from different countries, cultures, and beliefs, we did not find any difficulties. I believe as long as a person is open-minded, s/he will keep growing. If we acknowledge and embrace that we are different and diverse, I am sure that we will end by celebrating the differences. Moreover, if we take nationality, race, culture, and belief out of the equation, we are just human beings. We breathe the same air and live under the same sky. We are sad when we lose loved ones, happy when we have a new good friend or buy things with discount price. As human beings, we have more things in common than we have different.

I am so grateful to be able to have many great friends from different countries, cultures, and celebrate the diversity at the same time while I live in the United States. I felt so honored when my American friend changed her wedding date to one month earlier so we will be able to go to her wedding ceremony. That was the highest friendship recognition I have ever had all my life, and I will never forget it.

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