When Zainab arrived in America, she encountered a few challenges—some quite common and one unique to her experience. Zainab had to figure out how to adapt to life in a new country while being shy and quiet, and how to get used to her host family’s pet—a pig named Olive! Since Kuwaiti families do not normally have pets, Zainab was nervous at first, but she overcame this feeling and became good friends with the pet. In fact, Zainab even dressed as a pig for Halloween in honor of her friendship with Olive.
Zainab’s adjustment with the pig is one small part of her experience, but represents the incredible attitude she has towards her time here. She embraces all opportunities that help her bond with others. She does the simple tasks that count, such as walking to a local grocery store and buying ingredients to make her host family a meal or reading to her host sibling. She also makes time for more involved activities, such as serving at a dinner honoring new U.S. citizens, collecting donations for a hunger walk, and tutoring at an elementary school. Zainab is passionate about volunteering and connecting, saying that it makes her feel like she has achieved something great and it keeps her positive. By just November, she had already completed 62 community service hours.
Zainab also embodies the spirit of true exchange—she regularly provides tutoring and childcare at a church and a mosque, and spends time in both communities as she believes learning about multiple faiths is important. She patiently and kindly shares her culture with others, and gives thanks for all that people share with her. She has let ACES know multiple times that her “host families are great and wonderful” and her “local coordinator is the best.”
Despite her busy schedule, Zainab dedicates time to staying successful in school, maintaining a straight A average.
Thanks, Zainab; your dedication and thoughtfulness really make a difference in the lives around you!