A Letter from Kristian

Dear PRESTASI,

I am sending you this letter to tell you how much fun I’m having in Tucson and my graduate study at English Language and Linguistics (EL/L) Program, the University of Arizona (U of A). Tucson’s warm weather and the worldwide reputation of many graduate programs at U of A have made me very thankful to USAID Indonesia for having given me the opportunity to study here.

People know Arizona as the home of Grand Canyon National Park. However, Arizona actually has much more to explore than only the Grand Canyon. It is the center for world astronomic research and also has the preservation center for native-American Indian cultures and languages. What makes it more unique, it is very common to hear people speak in Spanish rather than English, as Arizona is one of the states which lay in the border with Mexico.

The city where I live, Tucson, is the second largest city in Arizona and the number of Moslem population here is relatively high. From what I observed during Iedul Fitri and Iedul Adha prayers in 2012, more than 500 people were attending the park for the prayers. The Islamic Center of Tucson (ICT) and some other mosques are open for 24 hours and they have various religious-related programs for all ages. There are also some stores that sell halal foods, including Asian stores in which we can find foods made in Indonesia like instant noodles, salted fish and many others. Every month, Indonesian families in Tucson gather and hold Qur’an recitation meeting, which I enjoy very much as I can meet fellow Indonesians, learn about Islam, share about life in Tucson, speak in Bahasa and more importantly eat Indonesian food for free.

Currently, I live in an off campus apartment near the university boulevard, the downtown of Tucson, the main gate of U of A and ICT, with two other students from Turkey and Indonesia. My Turkish friend, who is also my classmate in some classes, is currently studying at Ph.D. Second Language Acquisition and Teaching (SLAT) Interdisciplinary Program and my other roommate, is pursuing his M.Sc. in the Department of Microbiology.

U of A is known worldwide as the center for astronomy research program and the center for American Indian Language Development Institute. According to National Research Council, U of A’s linguistics anthropology is ranked first in the U.S., while its graduate linguistics’ program is ranked ninth among linguistics program in American higher education institution. MA EL/L and Ph.D. SLAT offer quite unique path in their program. They are interdisciplinary programs of some departments: College of Humanities, College of Science, College of Education, College of Behavioral and Social Science and CESL. As the programs in those colleges are highly ranked, MA EL/L and Ph.D. SLAT Programs are said to be one of the best interdisciplinary programs in Applied Linguistics in the US.

I am personally grateful to be admitted in M.A. EL/L Program at U of A as this program is closely connected to Ph.D. SLAT Interdisciplinary Program. To graduate from EL/L, I need to take 30 credits and as a USAID PRESTASI scholar, I have a responsibility to take at least 9 credits. This opportunity makes me able to graduate later with at least 36 credits if I only take 9 credits in each semester. All of my EL/L credits can all be transferred as SLAT courses. It means that I only need 24 more credits or approximately 2 more semesters in order to get Ph.D. in SLAT.

Some classes that I’m taking this semester have given me interesting insights. For example, in the Methods for TESOL Class, I learn more about the challenges and the strategies to improve the quality of English language teaching in Indonesia. This class inspires me to start writing a book about English teaching method in Indonesia. I’m currently working on a research about indigenous language preservation issues in Indonesia and doing a paper focusing on the challenges that Indonesian students face when they learn English tenses.

This term, I have just been elected as General Secretary of EL/L Students’ Association at the University of Arizona. This organization facilitates weekly colloquium meeting for EL/L students, helps international students at CESL (Center for English as a Second Language) to practice their English and succeed in their study, organizes faculty’s or guest speaker’s presentation in the department, represents EL/L students in the university events or invitations from other institutions in Arizona or the United States, gives a travel grant or other awards to EL/L students who will give presentation in a conference and many others. Actively involved in this organization is a wonderful experience for me as I have an opportunity to learn many things, meet new people and work together with them.

I do wish that next semesters, I would have more wonderful classes in my graduate study, do well in my research for thesis, make more friends and have an opportunity to visit USAID PRESTASI scholars in the other states in the U.S. Again, thank you USAID Indonesia and PRESTASI for this wonderful opportunities and experiences!

 

Yours truly,

Kristian Adi Putra

USAID - PRESTASI Scholars

Graduate Student at English Language and Linguistics program, The University of Arizona, USA