Should you be given the amazing opportunity to study abroad, where would you choose to go?
Pich Keo Pisei and Pisey Monoromnea, both students of Western International School, knew the answer to that question. Having taken part in the Exchange Program of 2016 and 2017 respectively, they were gifted with the chance to study in the United States for an entire academic year. It was a childhood dream come true.
Pisei, now aged 17, said, “It was one of the best years I have ever had.” When she had taken the ELTIS test in December of 2016, it had initially meant to be something fun she did to test her English skills. Six months later, however, to her never-ending delight, she was saying her goodbyes and boarding a plane to South Dakota, on her way to fulfill one of the many dreams on her list. The following year saw Romnea on that same journey.
By complete coincidence, both were placed in the same host family, the Proms.
The family and friends that Pisei had made, along with the new home that she had found and loved, throughout her one-of-a-kind exchange year helped her find herself. Before she left for the US, she was a quiet girl with a very reserved personality. Now, she is more open to new experiences and meeting people. Her bright outlook on life makes her one of the most fun people around.
As for Romnea, she has learned and lived and grown over the year, maturing into a more responsible and independent young adult. This experience has done also served to strengthen her relationships.
The school system in the United States is completely different from that of Cambodia. Both Pisei and Romnea found that school in the US was much easier and more fun, because they were allowed to choose subjects that interested them most. For example, Pisei chose to join theater, while Romnea chose culinary class.
The most amazing thing was that, for the first time, both girls got to experience all four seasons. During autumn, the fallen leaves piled up along the sides of roads and created sceneries that looked like a painting canvas. When winter arrived, they got to play in the snow and was treated to the full Christmas experience. When spring and summer came to be, they were both amazed at the life that came after so many months of death and found the beautiful colors mesmerizing to watch.
In retrospect, they thought it felt nice to be away, even if it was only for a little while. They found their independence and confidence within themselves and lived lives to the fullest. It felt only like yesterday that they were on their own, not really knowing what to expect, but excited for what the future had in store for them.
To those who dare to dream, seize every opportunity thrown your way and never be afraid of leaving loved ones. Through this chance, you will grow and make many memorable relationships with many memorable people. A lot can happen in a year, so never give up and and remember to keep dreaming.