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Angelica Salinas '13
Why do you want to serve as an International Ambassador?
My experience abroad was much more incredible than I could have ever anticipated. I want to share that experience with other students and hopefully encourage them to embark on journeys of their own. I truly believe that my time in South Africa helped me grow as a student and as an individual. I am definitely a better person for having gone on an abroad program. As an International Ambassador I hope that I will be able to keep my experience alive and aid others in reaching their goals of going abroad.
Deciding factor for studying abroad?
In deciding where to go abroad I considered a few things. The first thing I knew, what that I did not want to go to Europe. It seems to me that almost everyone wants to go there and I wanted to have a different experience that most people. I also realized that Europe is a fairly easy place to get to. I know that sometime in my life I will have an opportunity to travel there. On the other hand, it is much more difficult to get to Africa, let alone live there for 5 months. I wanted to immerse myself in a culture unlike my own filled with rich historical value. I also knew that I wanted to go to school with local students, not study at a center with other Americans. At the same time, I needed to go to a University that would fulfill major requirements back at Santa Clara. The University of Cape Town is a large university with such a variety of interesting classes, and I knew I wanted to study there.
Defining Moment Abroad?
During my time in Cape Town I volunteered for an organization called Children of South Africa or CHOSA. I worked in a township there, which is a poor settlement that developed during Apartheid. Here I taught English and Math to high school students ranging in ages 14-21. The students I taught lived in an home that was basically an orphanage for children whose parents had abandoned them or were unable to care for them themselves. Their home, Emasi, was a combination of shacks put together which housed over 30 children - from babies to the high school kids. There first time I went there I knew my life would never be the same. Never before had I seen such poverty first hand, but at the same time, never before had I experienced such joy and happiness that these kids showed me. Each time I arrived there I was greeted by tons of smiling faces. Before actually working we would spend around half an hour playing. In my work I realized that what each and every child at Emasi needed, was love and a friend. Each of them had so much love in his or her heart, with no one to share it with. I come from a world where people are constantly complaining. But these kids live without, and not once did I hear a complaint.
Advice to Prospective study abroad students?
My advice to prospective study abroad students would be to not be afraid to go out of your comfort zone. Go somewhere that will challenge you to live in a way you never have before. Interact with as many locals as possible and learn from them. Many abroad students go abroad and only hang out with the American friends who are on their program. In my opinion this is the biggest mistake. In order to get the most out of the abroad experience you have to fully immerse yourself in the location you select!