I may be totally out of my league in my German course, but I love my classroom! It is such a unique place, filled with people who may have nothing in common but being foreigners in this country. I am the only American, and the only native English speaker. There are several people from the Ukraine, a few from Poland and a couple from Turkey. We have someone from Thailand, Peru and Syria. We have people who lived under Communist rule in the former Soviet Union. We are Muslims and Buddhists and Eastern Orthodox Christians and atheists.
Every day it feels like I have as much to learn from them as from our teacher. Their opinions and their experiences and their stories are so different from mine. We debated the importance of individual freedoms versus the good of the collective public. Two people who lived in the same Communist country had quite opposite feelings! A Muslim woman talked about what it's like to wear a head scarf and what she thinks about her own freedom and equality. We discussed international relations and the influence (not always for good) of the U.S. and the European Union. We heard a presentation from a classmate on her country from a tourism perspective.
Because I am the only one, I have an opportunity to represent "Americans." It feels like a big responsibility but exciting too! I didn't realize how little some people know about our country- they only know Hollywood and New York. Most people don't even know Chicago! I was asked specifically whether I would give a presentation on my country. Of course I'm nervous but it is exciting to think about telling people about my home- a country I love and miss and probably never would have appreciated so much if I hadn't left it. Funny how your perspective changes, isn't it?