Kaloosya Musau is a Kenyan student studying information technology at Edmonds Community College. In the post below he writes about traveling to New York and Washington, DC during the winter break and uses his travels to frame reflections about his experience in the United States on the Northwest Community College Initiative (NWCCI) program. NWCCI encourages all of our students to take advantage of the opportunity to travel within the United States and hope that such travels lead all students to such thoughtful reflections.
It’s January 13th 2014, thirteen days and counting into the New Year. Whoa! How time flies when you are having fun, meeting new people, getting accustomed to a new life, learning new technology and a lot of craziness in between. On that note where do we submit our requests for twenty-eight to thirty hour days? I really need the extra six hours a day. Today marks five months of my stay in the U.S, give and take a few hours; funny thing is that I can vividly remember day one, hour one, minute one of that faithful day that I set foot into this land an estimated gazillion miles away from the land I call home. SeaTac airport in its glorious glamour marked my grand entry into the U.S., big, clean, and fully functional, nothing like what I have been accustomed to before. I am not hating on Nairobi but compared to JKIA, the major airport in my hometown of Nairobi, SeaTac is almost light years ahead in all manner of comparison.
One of the major goals of the NWCCI is for the students to learn as much as they can about the US culture and its people. On that note what better way to do this than tour the country itself and meet and interact with the people. So over the winter break, my friend Mohamed (from Egypt) and I planned our own winter break travel. Plans that would see us visit the two major cities in the East coast of the US, New York and Washington DC. Our plans bore fruit on the 25th of December as we boarded a plane (second time ever in my life) from SeaTac airport to our final destination, New York.
Over the two weeks of our stay in the East coast, our itinerary was one filled with museum visits, landmark visits, national monuments, town tours, ferry rides, dates to meet our colleagues and some unwinding time of course. This would see us visit places like Times Square, the Empire State Building, Chinatown, the Chrysler building, Ground Zero and the Freedom tower, the United Nations Headquarters, seven of the nineteen Smithsonian Museums, the Statue of Liberty and not forgetting the “Halal guys” who we much enjoyed having our dinner from.
But from all of the sites that we visited, one stood out for me than the rest, the Statue of Liberty. Apart from its green imposing figure, standing over 305 feet from the ground, and all manner of national and regional representation that it has, for me it was the personal stories relating to the statue that I was listening to from my audio guide that made me relate with this statue even more.
From the recordings I listened to witness after witness recounting what they felt and what the statue represented to them when they first saw it as they approached the shores of New York from sea, some who were running away from slavery-plagued countries and monarchs, businessmen and tourists alike from almost a hundred years ago. Despite the different expressions all of them had some things in common; the statue represented hope, new beginnings, second chances in life. It felt like dejavu a hundred years later that the statue would also mean and represent the same things to me as it did for them. Further personal reflection revealed that the NWCCI program itself was my own “Miss Liberty”. Giving me renewed hope for a better tomorrow, and giving me an education to behold for a better chance in this competitive life that we are living in. Asante sana!
The NWCCI program is part of the Community College Initiative, an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs.