What is it like to lose a loved one to a bombing? Or to leave the Gaza Strip for the first time? How about harboring a major crush on a British pop band in Indonesia or reckoning American stereotypes about your home country Tanzania?

Four exchange students wrote personal essays on those very subjects for Raven Radio earlier this year. We’re sharing them again for International Education Week (IEW), a joint initiative of the U.S. State Department and U.S. Department of Education.

In the past 25 years, Sitka families have hosted 70+ international students. A handful of Sitkans have also gone abroad with AFS (American Field Service) during high school.

This series was produced by KCAW reporter Emily Kwong and Krisanne Rice, the local cluster coordinator for AFS. 

If you missed any of the AFS student commentaries, give them a read by clicking the posts in the slider below. And if you are interested in recording a commentary for Raven Radio, we’d love to hear it. E-mail your idea or commentary to news@kcaw.org.

Ibrahim Nyiti: Africa is my home, not a headline

“I think of Africa as home. If only people could stop thinking of that one or two wrong things and look at the 100 plus things we have, the world could be a different place.”

Lina Abu Zubaida: Leaving Gaza for the first time

“I will return to Gaza a stronger, more tolerant, and more open-minded person. I will be able to share that strength and have impacts in my community that I wouldn’t have done otherwise.”

Namrita Kumari: Shining a bright light on Pakistan

“When parents send their children to school in Pakistan, they pray for them to come home safely and alive. But, instead of supporting the suffering ones, the world blames Pakistanis and calls them terrorists?”

Regina Kelen Toby: Traveling the world on the wings of One Direction

I would like to tell you how five amazing men inspired me to make my dreams come true.