Everyone expects some hiccups when trying to settle into a new area and time zone, but I didn’t think that I would be so disorientated that I would spend the first three days washing my hair with body wash instead of shampoo. I only realised that there was a problem after my hair literally stuck to my head. Put me down as the smart one on the program! Staying in America for the first time takes a bit of getting used to. My Host Mom and family along with my fellow WIPpers have, however, made the transition a little bit easier.
Walking into house of someone I have never met, with a bag or suitcase in hand can be daunting to say the least. This person opened up their home to me and is prepared to put me up and put up with me for the next eight weeks. How can I possibly express my gratitude? Certainly others on the WIP program have had similar feelings and experiences. We will share a lot this summer.
The first week, for example, was set aside for orientation, but that didn’t mean that we weren’t thrown in at the deep end. Every day was jam packed with speakers, events and tours. Everyone was excited, enthusiastic, engaging, exhausted, but at least everyone was in the same boat.
Out of all of the activities this week the one that stands out most for me was our tour of the Newseum. Media plays a crucial role in just about every aspect of modern life. Having the opportunity to see how that role has evolved and its influence has strengthened over time was a real privilege. This, of course, does not apply to every press in every country, as some are freer than others. Limitations on the press are not new concepts. Oppression of the media, however, as an independent and informative body is alien to Westernized notions that it serves to highlight how much we, as a society and as individuals, take it for granted even though we rely on it to keep us up to date with what is going on locally and globally.
TGI Friday! I welcome the weekend. I need a day or two to reflect and fully appreciate the past week… I feel very fortunate to be here.