Isabeau “Isa” Malan is a South African student at Edmonds Community College studying Business Management through the Northwest Community College Inititiave (NWCCI) program. Here, Isa shares her excitement and wonder at meeting her fellow NWCCI students and reflects on how much NWCCI students are able to learn from, and support each other.
I am a 23 year old South African who came to America to further my studies in Business Management. I have never been overseas before and this is my first time out of South Africa, little did I know that I would be studying with the most amazing group of people from all over the world.
As a young adult in South Africa we are faced with many challenges when it comes to cultural, social and work situations. When I received the scholarship to study abroad and realize my dream of being able to start my own business back in South Africa, I was petrified at the idea of integrating myself into the group of people joining me abroad. (We are a group of 19 students from all around the world, coming together to improve our language, ourselves and our communities back home).
As the months turned into weeks before my arrival in Washington State, I started connecting with the other participants; talking to them and trying to learn where everyone was from. Slowly we began sharing little details about ourselves to one another, getting to piece each other together as the weeks passed. Technology is great to connect people; however we only knew what we shared over Whatsapp and Facebook, which was only a fragment of what people really are like.
Then the day arrived for us to all finally meet each other.
“’WOW!’ what an amazing group of people!” I remember thinking.
We came from all over the world, and we finally met in one central place. With all of our differences, we had one thing in common; a passion for knowledge. I was blown-away by what magnificent people I would be spending my time with in the coming months.They are all intelligent, friendly and kind people, always eager to learn and share knowledge either about their lives back home. Once during class we had to share where we saw ourselves in 15 years. This is almost impossible as we don’t really know what will happen in 15 years time, however each person shared a little bit of their background. I learned from the Pakistani and Indian girls how traditional their countries still are, and what roles girls and women play in their societies, something I didn’t know until now. It was great to hear how they wanted to impact and change not only their societies but the lives from many girls in their areas. They also shared with us their traditional food, (which we all had a chance to taste), clothes and how things are different here in America, as opposed to other countries.
As I have come to realize, many of my friends had little knowledge about South Africa, just as I had very little knowledge about their respective countries and cities. I have been fortunate to share some of my culture with them and they have shared their beautiful cultures with me.
This amazing group of people have been my social life, classmates, life line and friends even before we came to America and I am certain they will continue to be so as the months pass.
We have countless hours of laughter and fun and we support each other, whether it is academically, emotionally or mentally, we stand together and we help each other. We created a support system for ourselves and we even though we can’t always relate to the same feelings, we can help each other and be a shoulder to cry on, or an ear to listen.
I have not only met people from different countries, I have made friends for life. And even though we will leave Edmonds in 10 months, I know we will create a network to keep in touch and stay in touch.
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 the student bloggers.