Maiuran’s American Adventure – Part 2

Maiuran in Chicago (Photo: Maiuran Loganathan)
Maiuran in Chicago

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. Maiuran’s program was organized by Purdue University, Indiana.

Here are Maiuran’s updates from the second half of the BFTF program:

READ PART 1 (June 28-July 8)

Maiuran's BFTF certificate (Photo: Maiuran Loganathan)
Maiuran’s BFTF certificate

July 9th – Day-trip to Chicago
“As we closed in on Chicago, the scenery was extraordinary; skyscrapers, museums, lakes (Lake Michigan), the cars (Mustangs and corvettes everywhere )… It was truly like being in a Hollywood movie. The first stop was at Willis Tower. Willis tower, Sears tower, is a 442m tall (108-story) skyscraper in Chicago, from where you can see almost the whole of Chicago. It is the second tallest building in the States and the view from the top is just amazing.”

July 10th – Host family reception
“Today we were going to a local high school called Jeff high school. [Later in the day] we went for the host family reception. Me and Vasilis got to meet Juliana and Gabriel, who are going to host us for the next ten days. They are an amazing couple who really cares about making this into a lifetime experience for us. Juliana is Russian and Gabriel is Mexican, so I can’t wait to learn more about their cultures.”

July 11th – First day with host family
“I had some time to finish packing and cleaning up my room before departing to my new “home away from home”. My host family’s house is an experience in itself; the kind of American house you except to see in a Hollywood movie with the American flag outside. After a quick tour, we were off to Indianapolis city (approx 1 hour away). We spent most of the day here.”

July 12th – Shopping and BBQ with another host family
“As it is Sunday today, we all woke up around 9 am. After a quick shower we were off to our first destination of the day; the Tippecanoe Mall. On the way I started thinking about this whole host-family setup and I realized that this was probably one of the most educating experiences I have ever had; there we were sitting in the car in Indiana, exploring Greek, Norwegian, Tamil, Russian, Mexican and American cultures. What an experience… So many varied viewpoints and perspectives.”

July 13th – Tornado
“Today’s lessons were on science, journalism and debating. After the lessons we went to a local market to buy ingredients for cuisine night. I am going to make two dishes that really represent Norway; Ribbe and frozen pizza. We then headed to our host homes to prepare for cuisine night. As we were doing this, and I was desperately looking for a good YouTube video on how to cook ribbe (pork ribs), some terrifying news came; a tornado was heading our way. Fortunately it didn’t hit anyone and we were all safe.”

July 14th – Community service and cuisine night
“Today’s plans were to do some community work, so we took the local city bus to Lafayette Urban Ministry. It is an organization working to provide those who are less fortunate with food, education and someplace to live. My job was to help cut the grass. Loads and loads of fun. The volunteer spirit is, as I understood, big in the U.S. like in Norway (another similarity worth valuing). Later we were picked up by our host families to go home and prepare the rest of the food for cuisine night. After a lot of wrestling with the meat and misunderstandings, I’m happy to say that I managed to make a proper Ribbe.”

July 15th – Amazing day
“This was by far the most amazing day ever. I’ll not even try to explain it with words; Nature, going back to the 1800, and meeting amazing people. I truly believe I’m the luckiest person on this planet.”

July 16th – Trip to Indianapolis
“First stop was the State House of Indiana. We were given a guided tour of the whole place. After the tour we went on to the historical museum. Although I’m not a big fan of museums, I had a great time.”

July 17th – Presenting Edify and witnessing another thunderstorm
“The first lesson today was an introduction to the further development of our project citizen (Edify in my case). At today’s presentations we got valuable feedback to start/continue with the project. As we went home, the thunderstorm kicked in. The roads were flooded… Like literally flooded, and there were lightning and thunder everywhere. At one point it actually got quite terrifying.”

July 18th – Farmers market and shopping
“It being Saturday I was planning on waking up late. However, the farmers market was about to start quite early (0900), so we were up and ready by 0830. The farmers market is essentially a place where farmers from all over Lafayette can come and share their products and services. Moving on, we went to do some shopping at the local mall. This was followed by a dinner at an amazing Chinese buffet; Fantastic atmosphere, fantastic food and fantastic company… I really couldn’t wish for more.”

July 19th – Last day with host family, last day at Purdue, last day in Indiana
“As the day passed by, I had time to relax and think about the whole experience. 3 weeks have passed and it feels strange to leave the place, all the people, all the memories… Leaving tomorrow morning is going to be difficult. The goodbye reception was just extraordinary. We said our goodbyes, listened to amazing speeches, witnessed mind-blowing talents, ate some great food, and got our certificates – What a day. I had the honor of playing the piano at the very end and I used the opportunity to play a song I have composed myself: “all because of you”.”

July 20 – Leaving Indiana
“We left Purdue University at 06:20. Most of the day was spent on the bus on the way to New Jersey.”

21st of July – Philadelphia
“The bus trip [to Philadelphia] was quite short, so we were soon at our first destination; National Constitution Center. We got a tour of two of the exhibits: the Kennedy exhibit and the constitutional exhibit (focus on gay rights). This was quite educative and interesting. Afterwards we went to the Independence Hall, where we were introduced to the very place where the Declaration of Independence was signed. It was quite an extraordinary experience to walk in the very same place as George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. This was then followed by a tour of the city in a double Decker tour bus. At 6 pm we departured for Washington DC and can’t wait for tomorrow!”

July 22th – Washington DC: National archives, the Capitol…
On the way to the National Archives, we passed by the White House (!) and the Washington monument. We didn’t have any business inside the white house, but spent a lot of time taking pictures outside. The National archives were huge and magnificent… The home of the declaration of independence, the bill of rights and many, many more documents. This was followed by a trip to the Capitol, where we got a guided tour. It was fantastic! Having read “The lost symbol” (Dan Brown), this experience was quite educative and interesting. Afterwards we went for lunch at a local market. Quite tasty. This was followed by trips to several landsmarks, Chinatown, the Washington monument and the big Abraham Lincoln statue.

More to come…