Monday, August 20, 2012

I'm Not in Kansas Anymore

     Well, it's official- I am a UWC student living in Montezuma, New Mexico.
     In the past 24 hours or so I have met probably about 200 different people and re-met at least half of them. It is so hard to remember so many new faces and names! But everyone is so, so friendly and so happy to help in any way possible to make this experience incredible. What makes it even harder is trying to remember where everyone is from. And then having to explain what Kansas is. Let me give you a couple examples of conversations:

A) The People Who Have Never in their Entire Lives Ever Heard of Kansas
"Hi! I'm _____ from _____"
"Hi, I'm Jessika from Kansas, it's so nice to meet you!"
"Kansas? Where is that?"
"It's here in the U.S., right in the middle of the country."
"Oh, ok, I've never heard of it. What's it like?"
"Um, well... it's very flat? There's a lot of farmland, but I live in a city"

Those aren't very interesting conversations. I never know how to describe Kansas. The next one's a little more interesting and even has some alternate endings! (Yeah, I know, get excited ;))

B) The People Who Have Actually Heard of Kansas. They Know All the Stereotypes. All. Of. Them.
"Hi! I'm ____ from ____"
"Hi! I'm Jessika from Kansas, it's so nice to meet you!"
   i) "Oh, cool! So like, the Wizard of Oz! Do you have red slippers? Have you traveled the yellow brick road? Do you know the Wicked Witch of the West? Oh, oh, wait! Guess what, you're not in Kansas anymore!"
   ii) "Oh, Kansas! So like, do you live on a farm? How big is your town? Do you have, like, horses and chickens? Have you been cow-tipping? Do you drive a tractor?"
   iii) "Oh my gosh no way! Do you get tornadoes all the time? That must be so scary, I can't even imagine. I saw this show once on TV about tornadoes and how they demolished this entire town, it was awful."

Seriously. It's pretty amusing.
     But I'm quite sure everyone is having similar conversations about their respective corners of the world. You would not believe how many countries are represented here, it's crazy! I've met students from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Peru, Chile, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Spain, Italy, Bosnia, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados (where my roommate is from- her name is Tanya and she's great!), China, Japan, Malaysia, India, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Turkey, Ghana, Sudan, South Africa, and so many more.  It's like a mini- World.
     Dad calls it a fairy-tale. And I can see why, it has all of the makings of a pretty story:
a) The school is a castle. Seriously. In the beautiful mountains of New Mexico, surrounded by forests, a river, hot springs, etc.
b) Individuals from all over the world come together in one place with a common goal- to learn and share their talents with the world in an effort to improve it.
c) Everyone is so nice. And enthusiastic. And helpful. When Dad and I pulled up to the school we were greeted by more than 50 students cheering and introducing themselves and immediately ready to help me unpack and get situated. You can stop anyone and strike up a conversation, and they're happy to learn about where you're from, how you came to UWC and what you're most excited about.
     It really is exciting. And it's only been one day! We have orientation activities all this week, so I'm sure I'll meet and re-meet many more people and have a lot more stories to share! Get ready :)

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