The melting pot

| November 3, 2010

One of the best learning experiences in my life was a trip I took in high school. It was a trip the international students learning English as a second language organized.

Ten students and two faculty members organized the trip at the lowest budget possible ($1500) and through international hostels with interesting characters telling their life stories on half broken down mini vans, Amtrak, Greyhound buses and on airplanes. We traveled from Massachusetts down to New York, DC, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, and back up to the four Corners (Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico), then Nevada and finally the infamous LA, before flying back to Massachusetts. Throughout the trip, I was educated on more things than the English language. I learned not only about America’s rich history on civil rights, Native Americans, Southern culture, Jazz, and European influences, but also experienced some of the most beautiful natural scenery such as the Grand Canyon, Navajo nation, and the California redwood forests. I really understood why America has the nickname “the melting pot” after the trip and the experience is the most precious, enjoyable, and effective education.

The main point of the trip was for international students to learn English and understand there is more to America than the preppy private boarding school in Northfield, Massachusetts-where most girls’ blond hair glitters when sun shines, while guys play sports and pull pranks on freshman or chunk down a bucket of pasta in the dining hall to be popular.

Not everybody has the luxury to travel, but there are ways to learn of different cultures and I sincerely feel that the most diversity a person can experience is in school. International students and faculty members can share aspects of their countries and cultures. For instance, students from the states experienced kimono and sushi without having to purchase a $1000 ticket to go to Japan.

The trend of enrolling foreign students is also growing. This year, international students enrolled in universities in America increased by 9 % and 10 % in Canada. And activities such as the international food festival and international fashion week
held in schools allow students to see and experience other cultures.

We are far passed the days where we needed to physically travel to really experience and learn. YouTube and CNN, among other mediums, have allows us to see the happenings on the other side of the globe whenever we please. However, don’t forget that sometimes you don’t even have to log on YouTube to learn about the Great Wall of China as the international student sitting next to you may tell you everything you need to know.