By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend
Editor’s note: Far from Home is an occasional series in which we document a year in the life of international students at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College.
As Craig Miranda made his way up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, he could not help but stop to revel in the moment. The brisk air and tenacious winds that day were unlike anything the Kuwait native had experienced so far in the United States, but they did not deter his concentration from the history he was just then experiencing.
“I stopped right where Martin Luther King Jr. made his famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech,” said Miranda, a first-year computer science major at Penn State Behrend. “I just stood there, and I started to film a video. I could just feel the inspiration.”
Miranda’s epiphany atop the Lincoln Memorial was one of the many memories he made during a visit to Washington, D.C., this winter break. Rather than return home, Miranda opted to spend the holidays with his brother, Clive Miranda, who is currently pursuing a master’s degree in physiology from Georgetown University.
For more than 20 days, the two spent time touring the city’s monuments and sights. From the White House to the Washington Monument, every base was covered. For Miranda, whose exposure to the United States was previously limited to Erie, the trip was an eye-opener.
Protesters were everywhere. Public transportation was a new concept. And he had never done so much walking in his life.
“It really helped me compare and contrast Erie to other places that I have not yet seen,” he said.
For all of the trip’s unfamiliarities, one constant remained.
“I have such a strong bond with my brother,” Miranda said. “As soon as I got there, I could feel that bond being reunited.”
Miranda’s visit with his brother was also special because this marked the first time he spent Christmas and New Year’s Day away from his family in Kuwait. He says he missed home, but spending the holidays with his brother was the next-best thing.
Miranda even surprised Clive with a special — and appropriate — Christmas gift: a Penn State jersey.
The way that Clive expressed his gratitude might have been the best gift of all, though.
“He wore it onto the campus of Georgetown University,” Miranda said. “I forced him to do it, but it was so fun.”