By Malika-Budur Kalila
NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y. – My dear reader, all my previous stories were in the news section, thus, I was not able to express my emotions and opinions. Now that there are only two weeks left until my graduation and visa expiration, I want to share my small story that made my worldview bigger and brighter.
I am originally from Kazakhstan, Central Asia, and I hope you do not only know my country as “Borat’s” home country, but as the republic, from which the Soviet Union launched the world’s first artificial satellite: Sputnik.
Ten years ago, in geography class I heard the word ‘Niagara’ for the first time. I was too young to understand its world-wide recognition, nevertheless, I was old enough to make a wish to visit that world wonder. Since then, so many things changed: my school, my worldview, my education, my objectives; however, one thing stayed unchanged – my dream to visit Niagara Falls.
I believe, when dreams are fed with motivation, prayers and action, they are obliged to become real. I never knew when I would realize my wish, but I was certain that I would.
When I was seven years old, I understood that all things that fit into our imagination can be transformed to a reality. I started my primary school in Russian although I knew only two words, “I” and “you.”
As a seven-year-old girl, I struggled a lot in order to overcome language and communication barriers. Thanks to hard work and persistence, I completed all of my courses with an A. Since then, I’ve known that anything you dream can be achieved when you work hard enough for it.
The United States is 6500 miles away from my home country. To most citizens of Kazakhstan, it is esteemed as a ‘heaven’ which is too far to attain. However, I always had a feeling that in a certain period of my life I would see that heaven.
In August of 2016, I had my first visit to this country. I came to Niagara University, the bridge that connected me to the USA. I was one of the first Kazakh students to join NU since its establishment in 1856.
As soon as I arrived to NU, I completed my registration and took my destination to Niagara Falls. I can not express what I felt when I first saw the falls; I was filled with emotions of joy, excitement and achievement. It was not a typical “dream come true;” it was a message saying that “even I can achieve what seems to be the impossible.”
My first few months spent in America, particularly at NU, were very different from what I experienced in other countries. A different continent comes with a foreign language and an unfamiliar culture, in my case, it resulted in a semester-long culture shock.
However, thanks to majoring in Communication Studies, which was also my life-long dream, my worldview experienced a paradigm shift. Learning about everyday life and analyzing the world around me using media literacy skills changed me and my perception of everything. I felt that I became more educated, thus, more independent. Additionally, I understood what I wanted to do for the rest of my life: journalism. As Martin Luther King said, “If a man hasn’t found something he will die for, he isn’t fit to live,” and now I know what I am living for, since I have found the path I can die for.
The dreams of that little girl in geography class is what brought me here. She planned to see the world and visit Niagara Falls, however, she discovered another wonder, Niagara University. A wonder that unites a group of talented professors and incredible students. Looking back to 10 years ago, I now realize that it was not the spirit of the water calling me here; nevertheless, it was the power of Niagara!
Goodbye my wonder…Goodbye Niagara!