Maiuran’s American Adventure – Part 1

youth in front of flag (Photo: courtesy of Maiuran Loganathan)
Maiuran (to the left) with two of his new BFTF friends on July 4 – all dressed in red, white and blue

Following an application process, the U.S. Embassy chose Maiuran Loganathan (17) from Oslo to be the Norwegian participant in the Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellowship Summer Institute (BFTF) 2015. BFTF is a 4-week youth program sponsored by the U.S. Embassy and Department of State, where 70 young European and American students aged 16-18 come together to learn about topics such as diplomacy, media, science and volunteerism, as well as about each other’s cultures.

After finally getting his U.S. visa, and getting through the Oslo-London-Chicago-Indianapolis flights, Maiuran arrived at the campus of Purdue University, Indiana on June 27 – his new home for the next 4 weeks.

youth playing checkers (Photo: courtesy of Maiuran Loganathan)
There is time for some fun and games between the BFTF lessons.

Here are some updates from Maiuran as he’s almost halfway through the program:

June 28th – Exploring Purdue and attending welcome reception
Waking up at 5 am is not actually as bad as it sounds. I think this could become a good routine for everyday life back in Norway as well. Me and my roommate, Vasilis from Greece, managed to wake up at 5 am and be ready about an hour early. Without the mentors awake just yet, we didn’t have much to do so we spent the time getting to know each other. […] we went for a campus tour with two of the amazing mentors and I got to take loads of pictures. Words can’t describe how beautiful Purdue University really is. It actually feels more like a city, with fire stations, gyms, a bank and lots of shops. Fun fact: Neil Armstrong actually graduated from Purdue University.”

June 29th – First lessons and trip to Walmart
“The first class was called “Benjamin Franklin’s legacy” and was taught by Pam Luenz. She is an incredible teacher and speaker as well as a great motivator. What’s even more astonishing is that she is actually the great, great, great, great, great niece of Benjamin Franklin himself. We learned a lot about his personality and his life.”

June 30th – Science, Native Americans and movie night
“We had our very first science lesson, and then we went on a trip to the Tippecanoe Battlefield and museum. This is a place where the Native Americans and “the white people” fought in the earlier days. We actually also got time to speak with a real, Native American who taught us a lot about their lifestyle as well as answered a lot of interesting questions. I also got the chance to buy a really cool Benjamin Franklin coin.”

July 1st – Project Citizen and meeting with relatives
“Today I had the pleasure of meeting one of my uncles from Canada. He and his friends had driven all the way from Canada to meet me and it was wonderful to meet them for the very first time.”

July 2nd – Ed Sheeran Concert
“We started the day with an all-American breakfast, as always, followed by lessons in journalism and controversial issues. Afterwards we had dinner and I got to play some chess and table-tennis. Then the big moment arrived: we were heading to the Ed Sheeran Concert! Words can´t describe!”

July 3rd – Introduction to college applications + Country presentation
“The introduction was held by Dr. Rapaport and he told us a lot about the application process in the US as well as the criteria. […] When I get back to Norway I will have to start taking my SATs and TOEFL as soon as possible. […] Moving on to the country presentation; It was really awesome. I had made a video where I presented different sides of Norway, and it was quite fun to watch their reactions.”

July 4th – Well it´s the 4th of July…
“Waking up at 0730, I had some time to play the piano before breakfast. Nothing beats early morning music. […] After breakfast we went out to celebrate Independence Day the American way: A picnic. The food was amazing and we played a lot of different games. After swimming, pizza and more games  we went to the “official” celebration at Purdue with fireworks and a great band. Celebrating 4th of July in the States is put simply: an experience I recommend for everyone.”

July 5th – Shopping + Hayride and bonfire
“Woke up 07.30 as usual. Wake up, shower, brush my teeth and go to Hillenbrand Dining hall for breakfast. Except I didn´t go to Hillenbrand for breakfast, but to play the piano. The talent show is coming up tomorrow and I still don´t know what to play. After the breakfast we went to a big shopping mall in Indiana. We took a local bus and it was quite interesting to see the difference between a local bus in Norway/Oslo and a local bus in US/Indianapolis. Everyone, from the driver to the passengers, is so incredibly welcoming. Later in the day we visited a farm and learned a lot about how much effort it really takes to deliver food on a plate. The list of things I used to take for granted, just became a lot longer. We made smoors (marshmallows, biscuits and chocolate), played a lot of games and got to roll down the hills. The life of a farmer is truly beautiful.”

July 6th – Talent show
“The mini holiday was over. Back to lectures today, but I’m pretty excited! The Talent Show was getting closer by the minute. A surge of nervousness was constantly running through me. But it went well – In fact really well. Everyone loved it and I’m glad my music put a smile on many faces. The Talent Show was simply phenomenal and it was lovely being amongst such bright individuals – A sea of talent.”

July 7th – Lessons and some shopping
“Today was the most ordinary day so far (I guess ordinary has a completely different meaning after I traveled from Norway 11 days ago (!)). Today´s lessons were all about the issues of privacy and security.”

July 8th – ordinary
“Completely ordinary day, with lessons, a fun trip to a local temple, bowling and a Harry Potter movie. Tomorrow we’re going to be in Chicago the whole day. Can’t wait!”