Pratap Kundu is a Northwest Community College Initiative (NWCCI) participant studying business management at Pierce College. In this blog post, he tells about his journey from India to the United States, his love of rugby, and the process of discovering that “family” is not only the one that you are born with.
I was born in Calcutta, West Bengal, India in March 1994. Calcutta is the former capital of India. It’s located near the Ganga River. It is famous for its beautiful historical places. Currently I am a studying business management at Pierce College in Lakewood, Washington, USA.
I got my high school degree from a Bengali medium government school, but the funniest thing is that before I started my school life I did not even know the alphabet. I started school in 6th grade (class six in India). After I graduated from high school I started college, studying business. A few months later, I went through the selection process for the CCI scholarship. Fortunately, I was selected for the NWCCI program and now I am here to study for one year in the United States of America. This is a great opportunity for me. This is a kind of gift from God.
My family is composed of my parents and 3 children. When I was 7 years old, my father passed away. After that, my mother got married again, but my stepfather did not like me. He used to torture me every day, and he sent me to work to bring him money. One day, I ran away from my house, and I came to the railway station. I lived in the railway station for 4 months. I used to beg in the streets because I had no food to eat. I had no good clothes to wear, but I knew that God was with me. One day, a person came to me and asked me, “Do you want to go to a hostel? You can have a place to live, have food, a chance to study, and new clothes to wear”. It was hard for me to believe in him. In India, there are people who act this way in order to kidnap kids and sell them in a market. I share this incident with some of my friends, and we decided to go together to that hostel. The hostel’s name is ‘Don Bosco Ashalayam’. They are working for the street children and orphans like me.
I grew up with my friends in a hostel. After my class 10 Grade, I left the hostel and shift to the company called “Terra Indica (craft) Pvt. Ltd”. I was working and studying both at the same time. This company’s Trust always helps young students like me to fulfil their dream. They provide me a part time job and sponsor me for my higher study. Mr. Christophe Plais, director of the company taught me English before I came to the United States.
I like to play rugby. I’m currently playing for Tacoma Senior Rugby Club in Portland Avenue Park. I have been playing rugby for almost 8 years. In India, I played for our national team and also for my State; my club is called the “Jungle Crows”. This club became my family. I love playing rugby and will do anything to play rugby. When I was in grade 10, I had an exam and the final of the game at the same day. When I finally left the exam room, and I went to play this final. Nobody knew about that.
Now if I look back one year and five months before, I had nothing in my life. I wasn’t able to speak English. I had never been outside of India, but now I am in the United States. I have a new family from all over the world. No matter where am I from, no matter if I able to speak English or not, we can still understand each other. Everyone is so supportive. We laugh as a family, we cry as a family. What a team spirit we have! They help me to stop thinking about my past life. In this last eight months I have learned a lot in America, and that’s unforgettable.
Coming from this kind of background and getting the chance to study in the U.S. seems like it could happen only in the dream, but the statement “dreams comes true” really is true because my dream came true. Still sometime I can’t believe myself that I am here in the America.
Studying at Pierce College will help me for my future life. I learned about my field of business, and I took many English classes to improve my grammar and speaking. I believe that what I learned here will serve me in my personal and professional life. I think that I am so blessed to be part of this program.
Finally I would like to thank to CCI and NWCCI for giving me an opportunity to change my life. My Human Relation class’s instructor Dr. Paul Gerhardt always said “Life is all about choices, your success and failure depend on your own choices”. I choose to be successful in my life.
The NWCCI program is part of the Community College Initiative, an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The opinions expressed in this blog by writers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Northwest Community College Initiative program, Edmonds Community College, Whatcom Community College, Pierce College, the United States Department of State or any employee thereof. NWCCI and Edmonds Community College are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied by student bloggers.