The integration is one of the biggest or great things that immigrants, refugees, etc., worry about in the two first years in their new country. It seems very difficult in the beginning, but for those who want or agree to assimilate, it turns out to be easy because we know that we have different cultures or different ways to see and do things.

I think the better way to develop one’s self in a new place is in trying the new culture with motivation, even if we think that it is difficult for us to be adapted. Without trying, we will stay in the first step, which will make our lives immobile. Staying like that, we seem like a dead person, which is not good for those who have big dreams. We must not forget our culture, but we can put it apart. We’re not in the same country where we were before. It’s like a house: Each part or room has its rule. For example: We cannot put the bed in the bathroom – it’s impossible. So we must know that each country has its cultures. And the better way to get developed should be in trying the new culture with love and motivation.

I’ll share a little about my experience. When I came to U.S., precisely, to Deering High School, in my first weeks, I was in trouble with myself. Ask me how and why? Because I couldn’t touch and write well with the pencil.

That may seem strange and funny, but it caused me big trouble, believe me. In my country, we only use pencils in elementary school, rarely in middle school. I believe that it’s included in our culture. I was surprised when I learned that here I had to use pencils in my high school. Because of that I felt myself like a little baby. As a result, I recognized the following things: (1) I never had problem with my eyes before but I couldn’t see my writing well; (2) knowing that I was using a pencil, when I made a mistake in my writing, I couldn’t delete the wrong word with an eraser that my pencil had. It was something that I couldn’t do in my mind.

In middle and high school in my country, students only use pens, which means if you wrote something wrong you cannot delete that to leave the space clear. Insead you will write things like (****) and continue. If you don’t want these things in your writing, you must be careful not to make mistakes because that will stay like a symbol. This is one of our ways to do things.

I should say that our cultures influence 90 percent of our lives. In some countries, like the one I came from, I feel like we do not know about second chances. If you did or do something wrong or something wrong happened to you in your life, society and family, it will never be forgotten, and the mistake will stay in your life until you are dead. You will continue living your life with people acting always like they have to remind you every day what happened to you, making sure that you didn’t forget, to make you not feel like you are done. Instead you lost everything and you cannot delete that because it’s a pen, not a pencil.


Many people never recognize that. Our culture is a base or center of our lives, and I think we must re-see our cultures and try to make a change. It seems confusing but it’s true.

Things are different in the U.S. When you make a mistake, there will always be people who will give you the second opportunity. As an example, in the shelter where I lived before I moved to my new house, there were people who can help you physically and emotionally until you get better and leave the bad forever. This is like having a pencil with an eraser that can allow to you to erase when you make mistakes. And I think that if other countries can copy this example, this world will be a better place for everyone.

This thinking came to me when I had to change my pen for a pencil in my mind, and also because I thought that the U.S. high school was wrong using the pencils at high school. After times, I started to think about different cultures that we have and I saw how much this affects our lives. I tried to learn the message behind this act of pen and pencil. This helps me to see how much we were wrong in our culture at this point and I hope to change that.

As advice, if you go to someplace new do not judge people, or things, principally the culture before you. Try to learn and understand about what you find. Because you never know what’s behind something. It can be more valuable than you think.


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