I was working with the Dr. Reddy's Foundation when I saw the U.S. Consulate General Hyderabad's notification about the Community College Initiative Programme in the media. The announcement said that selected candidates would be offered free education in one of the community colleges in the U.S.
Apprehensive as I was, I decided to go ahead and submit my application. Many of my friends asked me why anyone would send students from Andhra Pradesh to the U.S. for free. I wasn't sure too but decided to give it a try. Until then, I never had the thought of going abroad and studying.
It's been over four months since I reached the U.S and am currently pursuing a one-year certificate course in Tourism and Hospitality Management at the Highline Community College, Washington State.
Initially, the American accent was difficult to understand, but with help from my mentor family and others I am speaking English fluently and also giving presentations in college.
I have come to understand and appreciate numerous aspects of American culture and society. American politeness is something that I really admire. Punctuality is another. The system of education is very different from that in our country and we have a lot to learn from here.
In these four months, I have acquired a world of knowledge in not just my subjects but also in other areas. Since, the programme invites candidates from developing nations, I have had an opportunity to meet people from varied backgrounds and cultures and learn about them.
For instance, one of my roommates is a Pakistani and we are the best of friends. We have learnt a lot about each other's countries and it has dispelled certain perceptions I had about them. The one nice thing about studying in a different country is that your outlook towards cultures and the way you react to them changes. Here, there is no easy way out. Your success is determined by how hard you work. After coming here, I am experiencing first hand what were given as examples from American hospitality industry during my college days at Vijayawada Polytechnic College.
One doesn't just gain a foreign certificate or diploma when stepping out of the country. He gains much more. We become more polished individuals. Coming to the U.S. has given me a global outlook and has made me more confident and positive.
Apart from writing and speaking skills, the student clubs in the college have helped me develop my leadership skills. I hope many more students get to come here through similar programmes and gain from the foreign exposure that programmes like the Community College Initiative offer.
More details about the programme can be had on http://hyderabad.usconsulate.
Dinesh Srinivas Vaduri
Highline Community College, USA