Audrey Arisgraha — KL-YES to USA YP 22/23
Hello everyone, I’m Audrey Arisgraha, KL-YES 22/23 awardee that got placed in Jeffersonville, Indiana. During my time here I got lucky enough to have the opportunity to represent my country while also learning American Cultures. The saying “exchange year is not a year in life, but life in a year,” is true indeed. Here are some of my favorite memories while being my country’s student ambassador.
In January, me and my friend, Hasbullah Hasbi, attended a mid-year orientation from our Placement Organization. AYA/AIFS hosted their orientation at Boston for 2 days. We got to reflect on our exchange year a lot which I like because it allows us to have more self-reflection. Because our program is funded by the government, we often did these kinds of activities to reflect on our exchange year. I felt really helped by it because I got to track my growth over the year and be a better person. After that, we went on a short trolley tour around Boston too. I still vividly remember that it was freezing that day, but it couldn’t be better than that, I was so happy I got to meet other exchange students from the YES and FLEX program and spend time with them. On our last day of orientation, there was a talent show. Me and Hasbi decided we’re gonna perform “Wonderful Indonesia” dance performance. Even though we didn’t have much time to practice, we did our best. Our performances receive a lot of positive feedback from the staff and students, they adore our traditional costumes, musics, and dances. We received tremendous reactions and many people would like a picture with us. They said it was very interesting to get to see Indonesian culture at their orientation in Boston.
Besides that, International Education Week (IEW) was also a memorable experience for me introducing my culture. I did a presentation in my culinary and AP Literature Class regarding what the Indonesian school system is like, the differences between USA and Indonesia, Indonesian foods, and some tongue twisters. In my culinary class, I got to actually bring them Indonesian snacks like Kopiko, Tictac, and Brem Madiun. Most of them were shocked by the texture and taste of the Brem Madiun but they still enjoyed it. At the end of the presentation, I handed them Indomie and they loved it so much. Some of them actually came to me the next day and asked if I had more Indomie because they liked it a lot. I’m extremely thrilled by their enthusiasm. My friends at the AP Literature Class were also so eager to visit Indonesia, one of them even asked if Indonesia has ranch sauce so she’ll make sure to bring one when visiting if we don’t have it. I was so amused and I think it’s very interesting how they became more familiar and wanted to visit Indonesia after the IEW presentation.
Not only during IEW, I have also attended the Festival of Nations where I got to make a poster about Indonesia and perform an Indonesian traditional dance. I received many compliments for the beautiful Indonesian attire that I was wearing, and the dance too. Some people that came to the booth were mostly unfamiliar with Indonesia, I was honored to tell them a little bit of my country and promote international exposure to my surrounding environment in the USA. Not only that, I also get to learn other cultures from other countries as well such as the Philippines, Japan, etc. I didn’t expect that during my exchange year I wasn’t only going to learn American cultures only, but I also got to learn other cultures as well. This aspect is my most favorite part of going for an exchange year. We became an ambassador of our country and promote mutual understanding so that the world will be a peaceful and safe place for all of us.
Being an exchange student is more than just going to another country to study, there’s a larger picture behind it. To make the world a better place, for you and me. Through the friendships and understandings that we create, we learn to respect each other and embrace our differences. We might not see it now, but being a good ambassador for our country means there will be greater positive things happening in the future, hopefully.