Because we know the best way to share cultures is through personal interactions, each Northwest Community College Initiative (NWCCI) participant is paired with local family. Friendship families include students in their day-to-day activities so that NWCCI participants have the chance to gain another perspective on US culture. Friendship families have invited NWCCI students to neighborhood cookouts, holiday activities, hiking day trips and other community events.
Hafeez Rehman from Pakistan completed an ESL certificate in December 2013 and is currently studying business at Edmonds Community College. Hafeez writes about how his friendship family has helped him adjust to life in the United States.
I am from Gwadar, Pakistan. It is small town situated in the province of Baluchistan. After the long process of the scholarship application, I was selected and I arrived in the United States on October 12, 2013. I met my friendship family the second day after I arrived in the USA. My friendship family migrated from Sri Lanka to the United States in 2005. There are four members of my friendship family: Gagana, a chef at the Mariott Hotel, Kanchana a case manager at Edmonds Community College, Kanchana’s mom Sriya and Kanchana’s daughter Mihiri. Despite the fact that it was the first time we had met, I felt that I had had a relationship with them for ages because I never thought that someone who did not know me could still care and love me like a blood relative.
I get together with them about every five days. We hang out and have a lot of fun. I have warmly celebrated a few holidays with them such as Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas with delicious food and lovely conversation.
My friendship family has given me so much. This is the first time I have been away from my own family and I thought this would make me worried, stressed and homesick, but my friendship family has never allowed me to feel that I am away from my family. In addition, I had never celebrated my birthday in my entire life. Just a couple of weeks ago, my friendship family gave me a surprise birthday party with some of my program participants. I have also improved my English speaking and my experience in the USA through the help of my friendship family. I have got to know a lot about Sri Lankan culture and living. They are very loving and caring.
In conclusion, I would like to say that I will miss my friendship family when I go back to my country. Words cannot adequately express my admiration for them.
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.