The Beauty of American Diversity
Exchange student from Kazakhstan poses in front of an over-the-top USA backdrop with an eagle, the flag, etc.

Reflections from a more "uniform" society

[This article is a supplement to the Oct. 2021 issue of PAX Press.]

One of the main difficulties faced by exchange students upon arrival in the United States is cultural shock. My first culture shock was the incredible diversity of society in the state of Georgia. The population here consists of white Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, and more.

I have never seen such diversity in my country, so my eye is not used to seeing so many different people. The first days, it was very unusual to see such diversity. Sometimes, I even felt uncomfortable because I felt out of place.

This also applies to the issue of self-expression, because in America there is complete freedom of choice. In my country, we are more accustomed to wearing official uniforms to work and school. Here, each person looks as they want, dresses in the style that they like, and each individual is different from the other. The first days were really difficult, but after a couple of weeks, I got used to it and even began to consider myself a full-fledged member of this society.

Moreover, sometimes I look at people and think that they would fit into society in Kazakhstan. Then, I realize that we are not as different as I thought at first. Now, I have friends with whom I have the pleasure of dealing: someone is my teammate, someone is a classmate, and someone is another exchange student.

These are people from China, Mexico, Germany, Ethiopia, India, and other countries. I am amazed at the beauty of human nature because all people are unique and beautiful in their own way. Of course, it is still unusual for me to look at the variety of styles that people wear, but I’m getting used to it.

In general, this acceptance comes with time and the best advice I can give to other exchange students or people who have moved to America is not to judge others based on their appearance. Give yourself time to get used to it, and in the end, you will fall in love with this most free, diverse, and inclusive-of-all-the-colors-of-the-rainbow society!

—Yerkezhan (FLEX, Kazakhstan), hosted by the Lau family (GA)