Updated: Nov 10
Gigi has been part of AMIS for over a year now and recently shared her experience with AMIS throughout the pandemic with us:
Hi. My name is Gigi from Ecuador. I came to the USA, the nation of opportunities, and professional development, as an international student last year. To get a quality higher education, I moved to America even though English is not my native language. My parents have supported my decision because they knew that being apart from my home country would be worth it, all pointing towards a better future.
Even though, as a foreigner, I have faced cultural challenges and language barriers, I have met wonderful people who made this journey a great experience and encouraged me to keep it up. I had a blast as an international student before the coronavirus outbreak started.
I would say that the first 4 months of the pandemic was one of the darkest seasons in my life. Even though I lived with a host family, I felt alone. My transition from being social to becoming an isolated person was very challenging. Being unable to see my friends here in Atlanta or going back to Ecuador this summer was hard to take. During this global event, I had to make the difficult choice of staying in America since returning to my home country would come with the chance that I would not be able to get back to fulfill my academic studies. Besides, there was a lot of uncertainty about the international student visa regulations. I think the fear of not being able to see my parents or my brother back in Ecuador if something bad happened was very stressful and frustrating. I had a lot of anxiety. Also, I felt limited to even travel inside of the U.S. Not being able to visit my sister, who lives in California was very challenging as well.
Sometimes I questioned my faith about why God was letting these terrible events happen. I tried to keep myself busy, but it was still tough. Eventually, I opened up my heart, and I reached out to friends by phone or video calls for emotional support, who gave me words of affirmation and validation of my feelings. They have been very understanding and supportive. Without knowing, they gave me strength by being positive and supportive. Now, I am back on track, feeling calmer, and more aware of the situation. I am not as scared as I was in the beginning. After several months, I can say that I could not have overcome this dark season of my life without my support network of family, and friends.
My experience with AMIS has been a blessing. I have met wonderful people since coming to Atlanta. The volunteers are very nice and caring. They are always open to talk, listen and give advice. During the pandemic, I really enjoyed being in the Zoom meetings where I learned some cultural differences, and also, we talked about some movies and some tips for my development career. I thank you so much for the time and dedication of the volunteers of the program. I really enjoyed spending time in the activities before the pandemic, and during the pandemic, it was a nice way to connect with people. Thank you so much.
I am grateful and thankful for the work AMIS is doing in the international student community!
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