In-Between

by Ela Alvarado

I never knew how to describe my experience as an international student until a student at a Mosaic Night described himself as an “in-between.” He was in-between cultures, skin tones, and, most importantly, identity.

As I transitioned to Taylor, I found myself not being able to relate to anyone. While most international students were born in a foreign country yet raised in the U.S, I was born and raised entirely out of the United States. The few students who shared my background didn’t have a solid foundation in the English language. I went to a bilingual school but didn’t have anyone who understood that experience. While there were American students with a developed background in the English language whom I wanted to be friends with, my accent and insecurities got in the way of developing those relationships.

I was an “in-between.”

However, God had better plans than to let my differences create a divide among my brothers and sisters; he used them to unify me to his body!

He used those differences to create conversations of diverse cultural dishes, have compassion on those whose English didn’t come as easily, explains my fascination for English to others, hears others’ love for Spanish, and build relationships over the most unlikely circumstances.

There was one question I got more than any others: “What was the biggest difference between Honduras and the United States?”

What shocked me the most? I never knew how to answer that question. After having a bilingual education and being highly immersed in the American culture through travel and pop culture, there was simply no difference between my home and the place I now call my second home. And I’m thankful for that immersion. It became clear how grateful I was for that experience when I met a girl from South Korea who had a similar background to mine. I finally had someone who delighted in American culture as much as I did, yet understood the struggle of people underestimating our English-speaking abilities.

I’m thankful to be an in-between, and the person whose differences bridge the gaps in relationships. I’m grateful to be an international student at Taylor University and, more importantly, a unique member of Christ’s multi-faceted, wholesome body.

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