Santa Clara University

Lucero De Leon '12

International Ambassador


Why do you want to serve as an International Ambassador at Santa Clara University?

I want to serve as an international ambassador to reach out to undergraduate students interested in going abroad and persuade others to go abroad. Going abroad was a life changing experience for me; I witness new cultures, customs, and ways of living. I met students from all over the United States and built close bonds with them as we together went through the same experiences. I think these experiences taught me something new about myself and will be forever memorable. These are the things Id like to share with students interested in going abroad, in doing so I will help them prepare and enhance their college experience abroad.

What were the deciding factors in choosing your study abroad program-location?

I wanted to go to a Spanish speaking country in Latin America to experience a different Latino society, culture, and traditions from my own. I choose CIEE Study Centers Liberal Arts program in Santiago, Dominican Republic because I was fascinated by the Caribbean studies courses they were offering.  I also grew up listening to merengue and bachata, and was fascinated by the idea that I would learn about its roots and origins in the land itself! The program also presented opportunities for community service in the most needed poor communities of the DR.

Describe a defining moment in your abroad experiences and how that experience(s) has affected you personally, intellectually, vocational, spiritually, or academically.

The walk to the university from my host familys residency was a walk I will never forget. This walk reminded me every day of the reality of the Dominican Republic. This walk, which was considered a short cut for university students, went through different neighborhoods, the first one being La Zurza, one of the well-off neighborhoods in Santiagos downtown area, yet to get to the University, I had to pass through a rocky path that was neighbored by a river and handmade shacks. These shacks reminded me of the poverty that exist all over the Island. It reminded me to reflect that this beautiful island surrounded by sugar-white sandy beaches is another aspect of the reality of the island. I could never forget the harsh living conditions in which most Dominicans and Haitian immigrants live in. It was motivating to see how these people, no matter their circumstance, live life in high spirit, which I saw with their moving rhythmic music, rapid Spanish, and vibrant customs. Thanks to this trip I was able to learn the insights of the realities of Latin American countries and the insights to myself, and my values and customs, as well as my country. I grew a passion for these people and their culture.

What advises, recommendations would you give to prospective study abroad students? In retrospect, how would you prepare differently to maximize the study abroad experience?

I would advise prospective students to enroll in classes many locals takethis will help you meet Dominicans at the University! (this is a plus if you want to truly get that Dominican experience). With that said, do make friends with other abroad students, but also go out and interact with Dominicans. Take on a rural and/or urban volunteer activity if that is something you would like to do. Most importantly, I would tell prospective students to bring with them an open mind and be prepared to get out of your comfort zone. Remember that once you are out of your comfort zone, youre in the learning zone.