When you meet people from other countries, with backgrounds and beliefs different than yours, you are able to learn many things that you would not ever imagine. This summer, I had the incredible opportunity to attend the Harvest of Hope Leadership Academy (HHLA), at the University of Kansas, in Lawrence, KS. It was a three-week long summer camp for migrant students where I had the pleasure of meeting and learning from students from different countries and cities across Kansas. Being away from home for three weeks and living the college life with people I did not know gave me a new perspective of the world and all the life opportunities waiting for me.
While listening to others’ stories and seeing their way of living, I thought about the culture in their countries and in their families, and compared it to my own. I thought about the value my new Burmese friends give to things that seem insignificant to me, like the way you should dress on Father’s Day to show respect, or on Sundays even if you do not go to Church. It is fascinating the ways people live, but what is even more amazing is realizing that there is not a right or wrong way of living or making things work. I learned to work with people’s differences and embrace them with mine. By being open-minded and taking the risk to trust others, we were able to get the best from our differences and idealize a better world: a world with equal opportunities to all.
People are different and unique in their own way. Each person has different beliefs and backgrounds, but all those differences are crucial to accomplish our goals. When talking to one of my friends, I found out where her big heart and compassion come from. The Mexico-U.S. border separates her from her Dad, but thinking about how much she wants to see him gives her strength to be someone in life and to help others. That is when I realized, I can use every lesson that life is giving me to try to help others by guiding them in their journey. No matter where you come from you can always succeed and make an impact in life. In my experience, moving to another country where you are part of the minority is a huge and really hard transition, but learning about others’ experiences gives me hope and strength to never give up on my education. Now, when I feel like things are too hard, I think about all those stories I heard at HHLA. I think about my new friends’ strength to get through anything no matter how hard it is, and I believe I can do it too.
Sharing my experiences and listening to other student’s successes and struggles and how they react to all the barriers, like discrimination or financial problems, was really helpful for me, and made me grow as a person. I am now a person who is able to value what is already valuable in her life, and tries to take advantage of opportunities. I am a migrant student, and I will work as hard as I can to accomplish my goals and help people like myself become confident, believe in themselves, and understand what they are capable of, no matter how different they are. Maybe someday I will inspire someone to do more, be more, believe more, dream more, learn more, and accomplish more, like the people in HHLA inspired me to do.
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