Akshat Kambli is a graduate student in the Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Program in the College of Engineering and Applied Science at CU Boulder. He is originally from Mumbai, India and received his undergraduate degree from the University of Mumbai.
Before coming to the United States, I knew a bit about the American lifestyle from my experiences with American TV shows, Hollywood movies and American music. Being inquisitive in nature, I have always been interested in learning more about different countries and their cultures. In fact, about a month prior to my arrival in this land of opportunities, I started practicing the U.S. accent. Later I realized my accent did not make a huge difference as long as I was speaking slowly and clearly.
During my first semester at CU Boulder, my friend introduced me to the Thanksgiving dinner program organized by Boulder Friends of International Students (BFIS). Excited about getting a chance to interact with a local family on the special occasion of Thanksgiving, I immediately signed up for BFIS. Within a few days, I was contacted by Mrs. Renee Waller to celebrate Thanksgiving dinner with her and her family. When visiting the Waller residence, a million thoughts were running through my mind: "Why is it called a ‘dinner’ if it starts at 3:00 PM?"; "Does turkey taste the same as chicken?"; "What gift should I get for my host family?"; "Is it going to be like the one from the TV series Friends?"; "Will I be able to create my best impression?"
It was a never ending chain of thoughts. When I finally met the Waller family, I was completely touched by the warm reception and all my nerves disappeared instantly. The turkey was so delicious. I wondered why we never cooked turkey dishes in India. Over the dinner, we discussed things about our countries, their traditions and cultures, and I realized that both the countries share the same bond of "Unity in Diversity."
This was just a start. After this, we celebrated many events together. Without the Waller family, I would not have had the chance to carve pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns on Halloween, bake heart-shaped cookies on Valentine’s Day, decorate Easter eggs and do an Easter egg hunt, celebrate Mother’s Day when I was missing my mom and attend a thrilling Rodeo. The list goes on. We also celebrated Holi, the Indian festival of colors. It was fun watching their childlike enthusiasm in them while playing with colors for the first time. Mrs. Waller, whom I fondly call my American mom, introduced me to the beautiful cultural values set by American festivals. I started enjoying the American way of life.
I never expected that I would have the wonderful opportunity to meet another sweet and caring family thousands of miles away from my home. I am grateful to the Waller family for accepting someone like me, who is from a different part of the world altogether, and for showering me with love and affection to make my stay in the United States memorable. Isn’t that what the amazing American culture is all about?
Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Program
College of Engineering and Applied Science
From Mumbai, India