Help People with Simple Way.

Siti Nurhaliza (INA YES to USA YP 18–19)

Halo semuanya! ¡Hola! Hello everyone! (I think too many hellos here). My name is Siti Nurhaliza. I’m an exchange student from Indonesia to AFS-USA 18–19 and I’m hosted in Keota, Iowa. It’s been 3 months after my arrival on United States and don’t worry, I’m still alive as well.

My first 3 months here are really fun! I can’t imagine that I’m already here. I meet my host family, new friends at my American school, new communities, and I really love to be here. And then, because of my involvement at school with my double placement, we got many opportunities to know more about America and have new experiences. I will tell you 2 precious experiences that I have here.

The first one is International Round Table Event. I want to share my story about this event because it was really a fun event! Actually, it was not only fun but it was really surprising me. I still cannot get over this.

It was on Wednesday, October 30th 2018, me and my double placement, Altynai from Kyrgyzstan, we went to a private catholic school, Xavier High School, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. We spend the day sitting on various panels discussing a range of topics from life in their home countries to unique experiences they have encountered here in the United States. We networked with local high school students as well as other international students from across Iowa. International students also served as resources for Xavier students who were studying International Relations and world languages. The day culminated with a group lunch and conversation session. My favorite session is when all International students sat in front of Xavier students and they asked many questions to us and it was the first time I did that. I also met my friend from the same program as me!

Then, the surprising part is about the other international students. I didn’t know if there are many international students in Eastern Iowa and they are from other programs! They are from Europe, Asia, and America. They are so kind and amazing! I don’t know how to describe my feelings about them. We talked about experiences here, exchange our knowledge and cultures, and other interesting conversations! For me, they are my unexpected friends. Why? Because I didn’t recognize their existence. I don’t think there are many exchange students around me. In order to stay connected with them, I decided to ask their Instagram account so that I can see their experiences. My favorite story come from Julia, she is an exchange student from Brazil. She told us about her ex host Mother which made me scared. She felt not good with her ex host mother, fortunately she already move to new host family.

Xavier High School is an awesome school, especially the students are really friendly and amazing. They asked lots of questions and they really like my answer! For example, in the first session they asked about our expectation about Iowa and America. When I told them about cornfield (Iowa known because the cornfield, I can see many cornfield everywhere), they laughed. When I came to the second session which we came to Spanish class to get close with them and have small discussion group, I was really surprised with their questions. They asked about how is politic in United States which I don’t really understand.

After that, my teacher, Mr. O’Brien, brought us to the downtown of Cedar Rapids. Cedar Rapids is such an amazing city! I don’t want to forget what I did there with Altynai and Mr. O’Brien. I took many pictures, and eat foods. It was an amazing day!

My second story is about my feeling and I did when tsunami and huge earthquake happened in my town, Palu, Central Sulawesi. I want to share what I feel as an exchange student when huge disaster happened in my town and affected my family. It is a sad story but sharing is caring.

Tsunami and huge earthquake had happened in my town on Friday, September 28th 2018. I woke up in the early morning of Friday. I think it was a fate from God, because when I woke up, I saw the news about these disasters and I called my brother as quick as I can. I was crying a lot because the condition in that day is terrible bad. I cannot imagine if I was there. My city has changed, my house got broken, and the bad impact of this earthquake is liquefaction happened in two village. Because of this, I lost my friends in my home school. They are passed away, some of them still missing. I still cannot forget that.

So I decide to help my friends in Palu. With my teacher’s help, A reporter from local news station in Iowa (KCRG) could come to my host school to interview me. He asked about Indonesia, my hometown, What I felt, and anything. And I asked him if they could share my story about what happen in my hometown.

I was happy when he said they could share my story in the news and because of that people can donate money to Palu. Fortunately, they make an article about me especially about my story and I gave them fundraising link so people who read the article can donate money easily. I’m so grateful because of that I can help to rebuilt my town. So here is the link about my article.

I’m so happy that I can help people there with simple way. when it happened, people around me said that they are really sorry about the disaster. And then, when they saw me on the news, they said that they’re really impressed and they help with praying for best for Palu.