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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Hey, readers! Welcome to my first-ever blog post, where I'm excited to share a slice of my first-semester adventure—from a small village in Timor-Leste to the sprawling campus of West Virginia University (WVU). I'm thrilled to share a remarkable chapter of my first academic journey with you. Join me as I recount my experiences transitioning from a small village in Timor-Leste to the vibrant West Virginia University (WVU) campus.

Growing up in a small village on the east side of Timor-Leste (Lospalos), education felt like a distant dream. English only entered my world in junior high school, starting from the very basics—the alphabet and numbers. Unlike my peers, my academic journey followed a Portuguese curriculum, making the transition to an English curriculum at West Virginia University a daunting challenge.

The first week at the university was overwhelming. Everything was new and unfamiliar—from the vast campus to the large student population and the education system itself. I had never used a laptop in my previous schools, but here, it seemed to be an essential tool for everyone. The realization of the technological advancements and their integration into education hit me, forcing me to adapt quickly. I found myself using the library's laptops to complete assignments, a stark contrast to my traditional note-taking methods. Due to the language barrier and differences in the curriculum, completing assignments became a time-consuming task, taking me 3 to 4 hours to a single assignment. The challenges were immense, but my perseverance kept me going.

Surprisingly, my favorite course this semester turned out to be ENGLISH 101. The professor assigned a project that resonated deeply with me—an opportunity to write a narrative based on personal experiences. This was my chance to put into words a story I had always dreamed of sharing.

Reflecting on the process of writing this paper, I encountered several challenges and gained valuable insight. Writing this paper was tough because it was my first time tackling a narrative, and English is not my first language. After following the Portuguese curriculum for over two decades, I felt overwhelmed trying to condense my story into three pages. However, I believed that sharing my true experiences would resonate with readers.

Worried about the language barrier, I approached my professor, who encouraged me to infuse my own dialect into the narrative for a more nuanced and diverse perspective. My English tutor gave me a great tip when I shared my concerns. She suggested I add some dialogue in my native language or the language used in those moments. She said it would showcase my identity and make readers curious.

Inspired by her advice and the work of Gloria Anzaldua, I began to incorporate elements of my native language into my narrative. During peer review, I was worried about how people would react to the non-English dialogue. To my surprise, a friend appreciated the choice. Another peer suggested I mention where I came from and add more details about my country. I followed this advice, describing my hometown and sharing personal experiences that celebrated our cultural heritage. In the end, I turned my language challenge into a narrative that not only told my childhood story but also celebrated our diverse heritage.

"A Village Boy's Dream" became more than just a project; it became a bridge between my past and my present. It was an opportunity to share my story, break down barriers, and celebrate the diversity that enriches our shared educational experience at West Virginia University. As I continue my academic journey, I carry with me the lessons learned from that small village in Timor-Leste, grateful for the chance to turn a dream into a reality.

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