USTL provides full scholarships to outstanding students from Timor-Leste for two to four years of study at high-quality undergraduate degree institutions in the United States. Scholarship awards include full tuition toward either a bachelor’s degree or associate degree, travel, living stipends, medical insurance in the U.S., and visa costs. USTL is a program of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), U.S. Department of State.

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As a scholarship recipient holding the responsibility of an ambassador, I am gladly enjoying sharing my culture with people who I meet in the community I live in, classes and at the international events. Although the benefits of our presence may not cause a great impact, that is not what we are coming here for. With our presence, we can share with people about friendship, culture and share the different point of views on different topics. As well as, they could learn that East Timor geographically exists on this planet. Because not so many people do know it. So to encourage people to know about Timor, I contribute through events offered for international students by helping to decorate or present East Timor to the home community, being in a student panel for International students and other activities just to name a few.
The USTL scholarship has given me a significant opportunity to learn various educational lessons. Studying engineer here in this advanced technological university allows me to learn how to use advanced program and tools for getting tasks done efficiently. For instance, utilizing one of the latest software called MATLAB (coding software that engineers use for long calculations) to calculate complex questions in only a few seconds, compared to using hand and calculator can consume both time and papers.
Besides that, I learn more about professionalism in a working area in particularly about how people prioritize their responsibilities. Here, I get a chance to meet high skilled and experienced professors like when I do not understand, I always try to go to professor’s office hours. The professors always find understandable techniques to help me to approach the problems. Sometimes, there are still some that are hard to understand their explanation, the university environment is supportive, so the students can always get help from tutoring and resources from library or internet. But this shows that people are specialized in their area, so whenever someone needs their help, they are truly there to help you as a part of their responsibilities.
I also understand more about living in a diverse society, before coming to the USA, I used to wonder about American culture. But, now that I am living temporarily in this melting pot culture country; from my point of view, it has unique culture as it mixes all the culture from all over and blends them together to be “The USA culture”. As of this, they embrace all the differences and not to make others feel less welcome in this country. The thing I like about the USA is, they generally welcome and treated everyone equally, no matter who you are, where you from, what language you speak, etc. However, due to culture differences, there are always some customs that hard to agree with, but it is important to understand the differences. For instance, here in the USA when you eat, a friend or any acquaintance pass by they never say something (like we say “servida” translated literally served) as an invitation for the meal that they are eating. It would be quite rude in East Timor, but culturally American are quite individualistic, which is economically helpful I would say, so this is normal for them.
There are some basic stuff I notice how American society is well aware of the consequences of their actions towards their surroundings like recycling, smoking in public spaces and other mindful actions. I never got a chance to learn about recycling as a kid, because I could say in my family no one has ever been thought that it was a thing. Luckily nowadays, the scholarship alumni have been fighting so hard in East Timor to encourage people to be aware of their actions towards their surroundings, and it has done a small progress. Thanks to these guys! I am a big fan of kids, every house I go here in the States, I observe the kids seems to have been taught the impact of recycling on the environment. Thus, they can differ which are needed to be recycled and which are not. I may be old to know this now, but it is not late to share it with the kids who I spent most of my time with back home. Since we all know, kids can easily absorb a knowledge than the adults, and these will be considered as basic stuff for them in their everyday life.
All in all, studying in the society embrace all the differences, it encourages me to work hard on my limited knowledge I earned from home. It has now been broadened not only academically but also my understanding of the society as a whole. Hence, I humbly urge that this scholarship should be continually funded because there are so many potential Timorese who are eagerly trying to get this scholarship. I am so positive that their everyday life here in the US is a lesson just like mine. Learning from the greatest sources will encourage them to make small changes.

How does this scholarship benefit U.S communities?
As a recipient of the scholarship, how do you contribute towards your community in the U.S?
From my point of view, it has positive impacts on communities in so many ways. First of all, every time they ask me this simple question “Where are you from?”, and we say “East-Timor”. Some would act like they know because they may not interest in it or just to show that they are geography experts. Highly recommended to any Timorese here to double check that these people truly now where it is located because if you ask them back they will always look at you and guess the continents based upon your physical appearance. Some would say “Oh that’s in Africa” if you say no, then they would move your country in their head like they play puzzle trying to find a place where it could fit in. So, the next guess would probably “Oh, I guess it’s in South America”. Whereas, others would be like “Where in the world is that country”, this shows that these people are curious to know where it is actually located. Therefore, as a scholarship recipient with another responsibility of being an ambassador of my country, my small contribution would be helping to teach the citizens of this big country that our tiny island country exists in the world.
Also, I personally take advantage of contributing to the community in which I live by doing community services. It is always a great way for me to escape from college life and reaching out to the community. The last two spring breaks of mine, I volunteered in Rainelle (Southern part of WV) the community that was flooded in 2016. It sounds like it was a long time ago, so things have been rebuilt, but there still some places that need help with. During the week, we rebuilt houses, painting buildings, building a ramp, having meals with the families in the community, spending time youths and the kids at the church and home shelter. There, When I told them that I am from East Timor and where East Timor is, they always went like “wow, what brought you here?”. I could tell that they were surprised how someone from that far country went to their small community.
I personally think it has a great benefit for the community in particularly the communities that face problems like a natural disaster. I may not provide a great physical help, but emotionally, presence in the community truly helps them to feel that they are loved and cared by people from other countries.
What impact did you have personally?
What did you learn from this experience? What did you learn about yourself?
As I mentioned above, living in this society has broadened more my understanding of how the environment and education shape people’s ideas and lifestyles. It has been like a contact lens which I can see through and understand the world better; it helps me know better how to build friendship relationship with people from diverse backgrounds and especially with the people who I am closed to and know. Through this educational opportunity, I have met and been inspired by so many intelligent people. They inspire me to work hard on my dreams and help others who need my help. For instance, this semester I attended a celebrating event of Hidden Figures movie for engineers, that was participated by an astronaut who shares the record for most Space Shuttle missions. His experiences on how he worked hard to achieve his dreams were quite intriguing, he had the dream of being an astronaut since he was only a kid when his parents introduced him to a rocket launching.
But before he became a pilot, he was previously an air force pilot, but he worked through his way until he pursued his dream of being an astronaut with an endless support from his family. With the knowledge of flying space shuttle and in science, he has helped so many young people to understand about living in zero gravity (outer space). He as well as inspiring young people regardless what dream they have to work hard on whatever you are passionate because from that dream you will make a difference. When you achieve and work on your dream, you never want to get retired. It can be noted that with the supportive surroundings and people anyone can fight achieve his/her dream. A fun fact, I got to talk to him in person, had him signed the book I bought from him and even took a picture with him. Participating these small activities here in this university has been a great impact on myself as inspiration that leads me to my dream.