Essay confronting stereotypes recognized
Back home in Nepal, Priyanka Singh was part of Amnesty International, an organization partnered with the United Nations working to protect human rights. Singh is also a strong HIV and AIDS awareness advocate. “Its about making oppourtunities for people less fortunate,” Singh said about her philanthropic efforts. Nicole Koster
Coming to a new country to study can be scary, but for Priyanka Singh, a sophomore sociology major from Kathmandau, Nepal making a new life in America sounded like a wonderful idea. Originally from India, she had to adapt to many things in Western culture, especially the Louisiana weather.
"It's so hot," said Singh jokingly. "I was at the New Orleans airport, and I was thinking 'I don't think I can live here for four years.' Every time it's hot, I'm like 'When am I going to graduate?'" Singh has been at Southeastern for a year and half now. Being far away from family and friends can be hard, but she is determined to make the best of every situation. Recently, Singh was awarded a $750 scholarship from International Student Voice Magazine after she wrote a winning essay detailing her experience and journey as an international student.
Singh was naturally modest and surprised when she won the contest and the money. Writing the essay was on a whim.
"I didn't have enough money for school, so I'm thinking, 'Let me look for scholarships,'" said Singh. "I found the essay competition, and knew I could do that. One Friday morning I just woke up and didn't have anything to do so I wrote it. I didn't even think I was going to win it."
Singh opened her essay describing America saying, "All that glitters is not gold." Many Americans have the money, time and freedom to live in luxury, but they neglect the fact that there are other cultures and global issues outside their own world. When Singh first started at Southeastern she had trouble getting out of her own skin because many students stereotyped her and were ignorant to diversity.
"People think Nepal is like a mountainous country, and it is, but where I come from, it's the capital city Kathmandau," said Singh. "I've never seen snow in my life. People think Mt. Everest is in my backyard or something, but I wouldn't generalize Americans. At first I felt bad because I felt like I was underprivileged, but now I think people are just not informed enough, and they need to read about stuff that's outside of America. America is not the whole world. There are other things happening around the world."
Kathmandu is the most developed city in Nepal. The valleys and lush scenery are some of the things Singh misses the most about home, that and her family and friends. However, her community of Nepalese students here make her feel at home.
"We're all really close," said Singh, who is also a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma. "If anybody has a problem, any Nepalese student would do anything for them. We're a small Nepal. We're super close because we share the same culture. Almost all the students here from Nepal, we are all from the same city, because it's the only literate, developed city in Nepal. We have the opportunities to come to America."
Just like 20-year-olds here in America who go out to movies, shops and parties, Singh and her friends did many of the same things back home, and now here in America. They frequented amusement parks, coffee shops, malls and movie theaters. Being an international student on campus was hard at first, but once Singh applied to be an orientation leader she came out of her shell, and her experience here began to be more enjoyable. That is when she realized how much Southeastern had to offer her.
"I really love my school," said Singh. "The thing with international students is that nobody aims to come to Southeastern, but they somehow got stuck at Southeastern, and so they may act like it's not a good university, and they may not try and don't study and don't go to class. But I say you have to make the best use of what you have. Try doing whatever Southeastern has to offer."
To read the winning essay visit isvmag.com.
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