Alaskan at heart, Malaysian in soul

Wednesday, March 27, 2013 - 19:00

Let me start my first column entry by introducing myself. My name is Sivesh Sangar and I am an exchange student from Malaysia. I am under the Kennedy- Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Program (YES). I am on a semester program which lasts for 6 months. I will be in Alaska till the end of June. I am hosted in Eagle River and I am a senior at Chugiak High School.

I would like to share my experience of what I had to go through before getting here. Out of 1,400 students who were interviewed across Malaysia, I was one of just 45 students selected for this once in a lifetime experience. It was an extraordinary moment. When I got my placement, I nearly fell off my chair. These were the exact words in the email: Sivesh got placed in ALASKA!!

My friends made fun of me when I told them that I was placed in Alaska. They said that I would just live in an igloo and play with polar bears, but I started doing my research and learned more about Alaska. They even gave me a nickname: “Iceman.”

I started to fall in love with it and could not wait to reach Alaska and see it with my own eyes. Of the 45 students in the program, 43 are in the mainland, one is in Hawaii and I’m in Alaska.

The first thing I realized when I stepped off the plane was the weather. Originating from a country just six degrees north of the equator — where the coldest temperature I experienced was 75 degrees — walking out of the airport when it was five below was not the best thing that’s ever happened to me. But I was excited, as it was my first time seeing snow. You would never find a 17-year-old getting more excited just by seeing the amount of snow on the ground.

I’ve reached my quota of words, wait for my next column on April 11 to find out more about my experiences with the differences between schools in Alaska and schools in Malaysia. Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it. Have a great day ahead.


Sivesh Sangar is a 17-year-old foreign exchange student from Malaysia who attended Chugiak High. To reach Sivesh, email [email protected].

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