The University of Iowa

Student Reflections on Disabilities: Escaping the comfort zone

May 22nd, 2013

Dear Future Diversity Ambassadors,

Haley Dzuik in India

I’ll admit here that when I was applying for the India Winterim Program and for this very scholarship, I had some doubts. I had convinced my family, friends, and professors that participating in the program would be beneficial, but inside I was nervous. Would I get homesick? How would I deal with being immersed in a new culture? Would my new classmates and travel companions like me?

In spite of all my worry, I was accepted into the program, and after taking a deep breath, I confirmed my participation in the course. And I’m so glad I did.

I won’t say it was always easy. I had to deal with culture shock and some awkward situations. But I also had so many new and amazing experiences. I rode an elephant, took a boat ride across a sacred river, and walked the same palace floors as ancient kings. I encountered beliefs and outlooks different from anything I’ve ever known, and I like to think I’ve adopted some of them as my own.

One of the greatest things I gained abroad was my identity as an American. Even though the United States is one giant melting pot, I feel many Americans live with the belief that we have no culture at all, as though when our immigrant forefathers came to this country, our heritage had been bleached out of us.

I am so glad I went on this trip. Had I not gone outside of my comfort zone, I would have missed out on so many experiences and friendships. Thank you to the Diversity Ambassador Scholarship for making it possible!

Haley Dzuik