Hello everyone, my name is Holman Castro and I am from Nicaragua. I am majoring in English Education and have always wanted to be a teacher ever since I was a child. It has been two months since I started my experience as an exchange student here in the United States. When I applied for this program, I had some doubts about whether I was going to be accepted or not. However, I believed in myself and submitted my application. Two months later, I received an email stating that I had been selected as a finalist. That was one of the best days of my life, honestly!
Growing up and in a small community where schools are far away made me think that I would not accomplish my dreams in life. However, I worked hard and did not give up easily. My perseverance has allowed me to study at the University of Central Missouri this semester through the Global UGRAD program.
I have interacted with people from many different backgrounds and cultures. For example, I met a Global UGRAD participant from Indonesia, and she taught me a lot about her culture and her religion. At first, I was extremely surprised by what I learned since it is completely different from my own religion; however, it’s always good to have an open mind about other religions in the world. Plus, that has also made me embrace and share my religion with others.
I have also had the opportunity to volunteer at different organizations through the university. For example, I volunteered at an organization called “MO Volunteers,” which helps the local community in different ways. During my time volunteering, I made inspirational postcards that were sent to children in foster homes. This experience made me realize that one of the best things I can do is give back to the community by inspiring, teaching, and lifting up others.
Before coming here, I was a bit worried about the classes overall, but I have established good relationships with my professors. They are very approachable and nice. Academically, I have developed a lot of knowledge about cultures and subcultures. I am currently working on a project about three aspects of American culture and how those aspects are demonstrated within subcultures here in the United States. I have interviewed and had meetings with expert professors at the university on many topics. This project is very enlightening, especially since I am from another country. I have learned how to see other’s people perspectives through the lenses of their cultures, and not necessarily judge them.
One of the best highlights of my experience in the United States is that I have traveled to different parts of Missouri. I learned a lot about the most famous American football team in the state, the “Kansas City Chiefs,” which happened to be the winners of the Super Bowl this year. It was very exciting to see the match! Other than that, one of the most exciting experiences here was watching a play for the very first time. I learned a lot through it because it was all about the history of the city, the hardship the first inhabitants had to go through, and Midwestern food.
Honestly, I never thought that I was going to make it this far and I am sure that this life experience will keep shaping me into a better leader and spokesperson. I am absolutely enjoying this amazing journey and it has been the best experience I have ever had throughout my life. For everyone with a dream, know that your dreams can come true if you set your mind to them and never give up. Remember that things do not come easy; you must persevere and work hard.