Endor E. Rebolledo, a Colombian student who studied tourism and hospitality as part of the Northwest Community College Initiative (NWCCI) program at Whatcom Community College, writes about his first few weeks in the United States. Students at some of our campuses stay with host families when they first arrive, and many maintain close relationships. Here Endor shares how living with his host family, who later became his friendship family, was an invaluable way to learn about American culture.
When we talk about experiences we start thinking about so many things in life that really build us up personally, morally and physically. Therefore, I want to share a really good experience I had with my friendship family in the United States that helped me increase my knowledge about other cultures and places.
When I arrived in the United States, I had no knowledge about what it was like to live in this wonderful country. The first people to host me and teach me about how things worked in my new environment, especially in Bellingham, were DeeDee and Andy Marshall. This couple has two brilliant and intelligent girls who were also part of my learning process in the United States. They also had a very furry nice dog called Honey who jumped on me every time I entered the house. I spent two weeks living with them, during which time I broadened my knowledge of the American culture through trips, talks, and visits to neighbors in the neighborhood.
I remember that at first it was hard for me to understand them due to my lack of English speaking skills so the first thing they started doing with me was to teach me some of the most common used words and sentences in English. Throughout that short period of time living with them I progressed more and more until the point that I could keep up a good conversation. The hardest part was the pronunciation and accentuation of some sentences and words, so that people could hardly understand me when I was speaking. Hence, since Andy is a music director, he helped me a lot with it. I also had the opportunity to learn how and what Americans generally cook, their ways of eating, their eating time, etc. Although I know there are variations between families, all of these experiences helped me see the whole picture of what the American culture is.
To sum it up, I would like to say that there were many things I learned while living and sharing with this wonderful family. Running at Fairhaven, playing with snow up on Mount Baker, attending potlucks, going to Andy’s concerts, helped me feel more engaged with the American environment and culture.
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.