By Abad Macabanding
Every exchange student perceived mixed emotions as he stepped his foot in the land where he is not familiar. Living in an American family different from yours seems to be a challenge because you have to fine-tune to their American culture and lifestyle. Amidst the cultural shock and cultural differences that I am currently encountering here, I have to be patient and persevere enough to adapt their culture and share my culture to them in order to attain understanding with each other.
I am Abad Ambor Comadug Macabanding, a 16-year-old exchange student and a Young Ambassador of Peace and Goodwill from the Philippines. I am currently living with the Kalstabakken family in Fountain, Minn., and studying in Lanesboro High School. Back home, I lived in the small community of Barangay Sunggod in the Municipality of Taraka, Province of Lanao del Sur. I am a Filipino and I belong to the tribe of Maranao, which literally means people of Lake Lanao. I lived in an extended family with my parents, grandmothers, aunts and cousins. I have five siblings — two sisters and three brothers. Our family is simple and happy. My father is a government employee while my mother is a housewife. In our culture, we call our mother “ome or ina,” and “abe or papa” to our father as a sign of respect and love to them. We Filipinos never forget to have a “mano” with their hands at all times. Mano or Pagmamano is gesture used in Filipino culture which serves as a sign of respect to parents and elders and as a way of accepting a blessing from the elder. As the eldest child, it is my responsibility to inspire my siblings to reach their goals and dreams no matter what happened. I want them to finish their studies because that will be the happiest moment in my life if I saw them successful in their own careers. Like me, I have many goals that I desire to reach in the future. I want to be a successful accountant-lawyer because I want to be a peace advocate. As an advocate of peace, I want to promote that everything starts with peace and that if there is no peace, there will be no success. Aside from that, I want to finish my studies because I want to help my siblings and parents who are always there to support me at all times.
In our country, everyone muses to become exchange students and I am one of them. I want to be an exchange student because I want to share my culture and adapt the American culture. I want to promote mutual understanding between different countries by bridging the gap between cultural differences. I want to acquire leadership skills which I can use and exert to my community when I go back there. By the will of Allah (S.W.T), I am now spending my exchange year here in United States.
Living here in U.S. as an exchange student is really challenging. Culture shock is one of the things I really faced here at my first time. At first, I was suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, behavior, and set of attitudes disparate from our own. I have scrutinized irrefutable differences in culture and lifestyle of the Philippines and United States. At school, the students are the ones shifting to each classroom every class period, which is entirely different from ours. In the Philippines, the teachers are likely to be the ones who transfer, not the students. Furthermore, Americans do not prefer rice as their daily food. In the Philippines, rice should never be separated from our meal because it turned out to be a part of our culture. Farmers here also raise corn fields, unlike our country in which our farmers rear rice fields.
As time went by, I have experienced new things in U.S. I really relished camping because I was able to spend my time with other people and I had a chance to meet new friends and neighbors. Riding a boat in the river, volunteering in a museum, and kayaking are also some of the things I appreciated the most. Visiting the museum makes me assimilate the culture and history of the United States. The best thing I experienced here is trying American food. We cannot deny that most American foods are delicious and mouthwatering. Lastly, I hope to visit and witness the beauty of the Statue of Liberty in New York and the White House in Washington, D.C.
By the end of the year, I look forward to have a fun and amazing exchange year. I will never curtail this to a waste but I want to share the erudition I learned here to my community by conducting meetings and seminars. With that being said, they will incorporate enough knowledge on how other culture differs from what they have and how to overcome cultural differences.Lastly, I want to dedicate my exchange year to our beloved city, the Marawi City which was suddenly ruined and devastated by the war between military and rebel groups two months before my arrival in U.S. To my fellow Maranaos who suffered a lot because of the war, this success is for you. Together, let’s rise Marawi. Bangon MARAWI!