April 13, 2010

Students Share Changed Views

Each year the Mu Chapter of Phi Beta Delta and the UNC Charlotte International Club host a writing contest, "Crossing Borders", open to ELTI students*, undergraduate and graduate students. The theme this year was "How My International Experience Changed My View of the World" and students compiled essays highlighting how their interaction with the world, sometimes beyond the borders of UNC Charlotte and sometimes within, had changed their understanding of the world over time.

In the next several days, we'll showcase some of these essays on 'Niner International so check back in the next week or so for different stories.

*ELTI students are with the English Language Training Institute at UNC Charlotte - part of the Office of International Programs - and are students from around the world who come to ELTI to improve their English skills for career advancement or for university matriculation.

Our first story is from Jingjing Zhao, an international student with ELTI, who compares life to a musical composition that encompasses a variety of genres.

How My International Experience Has Affected My View of the World

To be an international student, I am very proud of myself. I still remember clearly the first day I decided to study abroad on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. I carried my dream and aspirationto the United States. Since being here for one year and three months, I experienced the American high school and college, and travled through several states. At the same time, I also got a secret collection which is about how my international experience has affected my worldview. Today, I am going to open this secret cabinet. If life is like a complete piece of music notes, I have enjoyed the rock chapter, jazz genre, and classical section.

Like rock music has simple accompaniment but strong rhythm, my international experience can be elegant but inspiring. The first time I walked into the Myers Park High School, I could feel the energy which is truly unique and fresh. After two semesters, it insipired me to be creative. I felt many Mustangs [Myers Park HS mascot] are filled with energy to create. Especially by the time they turned in their projects, I was shocked. I also learned many strategies from them, and finally I came out my very unique anthology. At that moment, I figured out high school is not only about paper and homework, but also attractive and inspiring.

If you ask me what type of music I would use to define America, I would say jazz, because jazz is very hard to define, and it has many distinctive styles; just like America which is a very diverse country. Since I attended the ELTI program at UNC Charlotte, I have met many awesome friends. They are from all around the world; most of them could speak four or five languages. They make me truly understand on eo fhte well-known saying from Confucius who is a famous philosopher, educator and musician in China. He expressed, "There is always someone to learn from." My classmates always have many enjoyable thoughts I can learn from.

In the similar way, every time I visit other states, I would always get a lot of unexpected knowledge. Take last summer holiday as an example; we went to Los Angeles. When we were on the airplane, the lady next to me taught me four words: gratitude, forgive, love and donate. She explained to me gratitude decides your attitude. Every night before you go to sleep, recite aloud at least ten things for which you are grateful. Forgiveness makes your life much easier. Let go of the past. Forgive those who have hurt or angered you. Stop carrying this poison around wiht you every day. Love connects human even if they are far away from you. Be sure to tell those people in your life who mean so much to you that you love them and appreciate them. And the last one is donation which makes people feel thankful. Go through your closets, and anything you haven't worn or used in the past year, box it or bag it and take it to a place where those who are less fortunate will benefit from your donation. Now, no matter where I go, what I do, I always keep these four words in my mind, because it influenced me quite a bit, it changes my life attitude, and improves my life standard.

Last but not least, my favorite music genre is classical music which requires advanced musical skills - for example, learning the ragas and the ability to coordinate with other musicians. Similarly, the relationship between the United States and China has been coordinated. Last November, I was honored to take part in the Confucius Institute Grand Opening. I truly felt regardless of gender, religion, race, and social status, people are treated equally in education. What is more, education also connects the relationship between the two super powers.

Life is like a complete piece of music notes; it has much different kind of rhythm, lyrics, and melody. No matter what type of genres you do like, eventually you will understand music can touch the core of the heart; you will find out what is the truth of human life. Now, having these international experiences, I am ready to get on another journal.

~Jingjing Zhao, ELTI student

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