My First Days
Turkish exchange student at a diner with American friend

A Turkish student's warm welcome to the heartland

Selam! Hello! I am Efe from Turkey. This is my third week in my host community in Indiana. I am hosted by the Lyons family.

I still remember that after a long journey that mostly took place in airports, I finally ended up in Fort Wayne, Indiana from Kastamonu, Turkey. Despite that long trip, I wasn’t even tired. I was just excited about meeting my new family. I was waiting for my luggage and suddenly heard the voices of people who were trying to pronounce my name.

My coordinator, Christine Krieg, her two exchange students Beyza and Ieva (who I became close with during the following weeks), my host mother Tammy, and my host brother Nick were waving at me. We hugged each other and my first impression of my host community was that warm encounter.

When we got home, my host mom and brother showed me around and after an hour my other host brother Lucas came home and he was excited, too! He immediately hugged me and said, “Welcome Efe!” That night, they took me to meet their friends. Even though we had just recently met, they were so nice and supportive. Thanks to them I really adapted here easily.

I was waiting for my luggage and suddenly heard the voices of people who were trying to pronounce my name.

I am glad I became a part of this family and community. I know that if I need help my coordinator, my host family, and other exchange students in my school will help me. There are 14 exchange students in my host high school. This is my favorite part about my school, because we created a melting pot in our community. Finding similarities between our cultures and learning about other cultures makes me so happy.

In my first days of school, my host brothers and the other exchange students helped me find my classes. Teachers were also aware that our education systems back in our host countries were different from the American one. With their help, I was used to switching classes and using my locker in just five minutes.

I love going to watch sporting events, and we frequently have football and volleyball matches. In my country, football is soccer. At first, when people were talking about football, I thought it was soccer. In time, I adapted to the terms and learned some basic stuff about American football.

My host sister and her husband took me to Indianapolis to watch the Colts game against Seattle! I really enjoyed the atmosphere created by the cheerful spectators. Every day, I learn something new about American culture, and my host family and friends learn something new about my culture. I can definitely say that my days here are full of fun, warm greetings, and learning.

—Adnan Efe (YES, Turkey), hosted by the Lyons family (IN)