How Openness to New Experiences and People Enriches Your Life

Written by Liliia Maliarchuk, Fall 2019 Professional Fellow from Ukraine

One of the great sources of motivation for my participation in the Professional Fellows Program was the possibility of living with an American family during my fellowship. As people are the main source of inspiration for me when traveling to other countries. I always want to engage in conversation with local people, get to know them, their values, stories, perspectives and to learn from their experiences. This always gives me a better understanding of a new country, its culture, history, aspirations for the future. In a very powerful way, it enriches me personally and makes the journey very memorable and inspirational.

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Receiving the first letter from my host family from Newton which is in Massachusetts, I felt that it was a perfect match for me. I was even happier after arriving and having our first dinner together. I had my first weekend with the family even before seeing the other important part of the PFP – work placement – and I was already 100 % certain that my stay in the US would be very meaningful, fulfilling, and satisfying.

My hosts, Suzanne and Bill (and their two cats – Boris and Blue cat), warmly welcomed me into their family. Every day we had unforgettable dinners with meals from every corner of the world, as Suzanne loves to cook. Almost every day, I eat dishes I have never tried before in a very inspirational atmosphere with great music, candles and inspiring conversations that enrich my life with new perspectives and experiences.

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To my surprise, my host family had a connection to Ukraine, as Suzanne’s first husband was Ukrainian, but was born outside of Ukraine during the Second World War. Even though he has never lived in Ukraine, he and his family kept Ukrainian traditions and family legacy over the years and Ukraine has been an important part of their family story. The garden has many beautiful flowers among which are flowers that grew from seeds family brought from Ukraine when escaping the war. The seeds traveled through many countries and continents and found  new home in Suzanne’s house in Newton.

My Professional Fellows experience is great and a big part of this is due to my host family and the people I met here. They keep their hearts and minds open, and their perspectives contribute a lot to creating a personal change in every person in their lives. I have enjoyed every minute with my family and now I am strongly committed to introducing sports, dances and even more books into my life, no matter how busy it will be.

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A month’s experience worth remembering for a lifetime

written by Hsu Wai Htun, Fall 2019 Fellow from Myanmar

The first time I heard about YSEALI was several years ago through social media. Then I kept getting familiar with the program as I’ve come across my Facebook newsfeed which was to an extent, filled with the posts of my friends who joined the different YSEALI programs. Even without knowing the details of the program, I thought it is pretty cool to work and learn in the US for a few weeks. Then I started exploring the program, I made up my mind if there comes the right time, I will go for the program.

Now, chances have been taken. With the help and support of families, friends and colleagues, I am here in the US, even already at the end of the YSEALI PFP. This almost 6-weeks program was not a life-changing experience, but it was a life experience that will be remembered for a lifetime.

YSEALI PFP opened a lot of doors for me for my personal and professional development. It was not an easy thing to immerse in a whole new culture for weeks, but it has allowed us to progress to a next level of adaptability and flexibility.

My placement is at US-ASEAN Business Council, which does things very similar to what I have been doing back home and it also runs programs which are aligned with my personal interest. So, the 4-weeks-time at the Council was an opportunity for me to learn and contribute.

Living with a host family was also a whole new experience for me. I am and will ever be grateful to the host family for being very kind, nice and hospitable during our stay. I’ve never thought complete strangers can be this good to complete strangers. It was an eye-opener for me. The random conversations that I had with my host parents from little things about food to politics will stay forever in my memory.

Coming from a country with winter temperature of 25 degree Celsius or even higher, I have to say the weather was brutal and was even regretting to have joined the fall program. But thanks to a friend and host mom who lent winter clothes to keep me warm. J So, here is a word of advice to future fellows – bring enough warm clothes. It can be freezing here. J

Halloween was a lot more fun than I imagined. I never thought I would be curving pumpkins, but I nailed it. Volunteering at the neighborhood Halloween parade and party made my Halloween experience even more complete and fascinating. I truly felt I was experiencing the American culture.

What is the most pleasing to me is that I made it to 5 States within a short time. I worked in DC, lived in Virginia and visited around Maryland, Connecticut and the New York. I think I made the most out of it.

I’ve experienced a lot of the-very-first-in-life things in this trip – the very first time to the US, first experience under minus temperature, first time working as a professional fellow, first host family experience and a lot of other very fascinating first experiences.

What I like most about the program is that the program does not end as we fly back to our countries. There are always chances for us to work together with American counterparts with the support of the program. Being able to be part of the YSEALI alumni is already a fruitful opportunity, I would say.

Thanks to everyone who made it. I believe all the fellows including me, are and will forever be thankful for the efforts you have put in to contribute to the development of ASEAN through this incredible program. Thank you for making us feel we matter.