ELT Students Enjoy Winter Break

Temirlan Tagaibaev, Kyrgzstan, Saginaw Valley State University

During winter break I visited four different cities. My trip began in Chicago, proceeded to Boston, New York, and finished in Washington, D.C. It was the longest trip I ever had. In Chicago, I met many different people, including some Kyrgyz-Americans and ate some Kyrgyz food.

I noticed that many people want to come to the U.S. to chase their dreams. In New York, I met some people with big dreams and became friends with them. During my trip, I learned to live beside different people and orient myself in big cities. I have moved from a quiet to a crowded city, so this has been different for me.

Each city I visited was completely different: if you want to study at top universities, you have to go to Boston; if you want to live in a city where life moves fast, you have to go to New York.
The best thing that I learned is that everyone I met clearly understands what they want and takes responsibility to achieve their goals. I am so happy to have been able to travel in the U.S. and make good friends. My trip was very relaxing and I feel ready for the spring semester!


Mahmoud Salim, Palestinian Territories, Saginaw Valley State University

Over the winter holiday, I participated in Alternative Break. This organization takes SVSU students to different places in the U.S. to do volunteer work. Along with eleven American students from SVSU, I went to Atlanta to work with refugees and immigrants who came from around the world due to war, violence, or other reasons.

We worked with the “International Rescue Committee,” which helps refugees and immigrants by providing English courses and clothing and helping them to find employment and housing. Many people bring donations to the International Rescue Committee, and I learned how generous American people are. Also, I worked with kids there and they were so cute and kind. The kids were so happy and I played with them and taught them English, too. I learned a lot about other countries and about different cultures from the people in the organization.

On the last day, we went to give the refugees Christmas gifts. I previously had thought that the refugees who came to the U.S. didn’t have houses or place to live, but I was wrong. There are many organizations in the U.S. that provide refugees with food, housing, and everything they need. On the last day of our trip we went to “Center For Civil And Human Rights,” where I learned about the American Civil War. In addition, I learned about the continuing violations of human rights around the world.

This trip increased my knowledge about the history of the U.S. and about what is happening in the world right now. It was a great experience that I will remember forever.


Pooja Das, India, St. Ambrose University

One of the most satisfying moments of my life is when I arrived in United States. Every day is a new opportunity to learn about the culture, places, and people of the U.S. Previously, I had never been beyond the West Bengal. But now I have traveled to five different states in the U.S.!

During my winter break, I first traveled to New York City. I spent Christmas with my uncle, aunt, and their daughter. We went to different stores, the Top of the Rock, the Empire State Building, the UN building, and Wall Street. I rode on a Citi bike and explored Central Park. On Christmas Eve, I cooked Indian delicacies and we had a small party. On December 27th, we drove to Maine to see my uncle’s cousin. It was cold and chilly and we stayed in a small cottage. We went to Portland and also went snowboarding, skiing, and skating. All the people I met were so curious to know about my travel and the Global UGRAD Program. On New Year’s Eve, I gave a long speech about my experience back in Iowa and the culture there. On January 3rd, I went to Chicago with my friend. We visited Willis Tower, Chicago River Walk, and Shedd Aquarium. Then I went to Dallas and I met many new friends from Nepal. They took me on a to trip to the lake, Dallas Downtown, Fort Walls Park, an a museum. These travels really widened my grasp of knowledge of geography, different cultures, and people.

Traveling is a much easier, lucid way to learn than books. In my trip I have not only had new experiences, but I also made new, everlasting friends. I had memories which will be cherished all my life. Each day of my trip brought new sights and adventurous that I will never going to forget. My travel helped me understand my own culture, views, and beliefs, and gave me a better understanding of the world we live in. It even helped me to feel connected to many people in the world, even though we are from different places. My travel made me courageous and adventurous. I was self-centered before and never traveled alone. But now, I do not fear traveling alone. It broadened my view. Traveling is an extraordinary experience that one needs to view the world and reveal one’s inner strength. This would have been impossible without the support of Global UGRAD and my friends. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to know the world.