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J: I was born and raised in the Philippines. When I was 13, my family moved to Guam. I came from a conservative Asian family and, at first, coming to the United States was very different from what I was accustomed to. I definitely went through a period of culture shock, but I guess because I came to the U.S. when I was hitting puberty, I adjusted faster than I expected. My heart still belongs in the Philippines, but a part of my identity was shaped here in the United States.
Having seen and experienced the hardships of living in a third world country, I took advantage of every single opportunity that came my way. And as I sought further education, the poverty and oppression in societies like my homeland piqued my intellectual curiosity. That is why I became interested in studying International Studies.
J: Of course, I see myself doing well, taking challenging classes, and making the most out of what Arcadia has to offer. But besides that, I see myself being involved not only in the Arcadia community, but also the surrounding local community. I am the Mock Trial co-captain, which is under the Politics, Law, and Civil Education (PLACE) club. We’re preparing for the regional competition in February. Mock Trial allowed me to not only compete at Princeton University last semester, but also to make lasting friendships and connections. I love my team and experiencing a taste of what my future career might look like.
Another activity that I recently got involved with is being a First Friends pen pal volunteer through Arcadia’s Community and Civic Engagement Center (CCEC). It is a nonprofit that serves immigrants held in detention. I am able to exchange letters with Juan, a detainee from Mexico, and provide him hope by simply conversing with him in Spanish and serving as his outside world connection. I haven’t written to him a whole lot yet, but receiving his letter felt very rewarding because people, like Juan, in detention centers are my fellow immigrants, and I just hope I’m creating an impact in his life.
J: College is different. In high school, I didn’t have to budget or manage my finances. But now, I fend for myself as a working student. I take responsibility in working to pay for my studies because I don’t want to associate the cost of my education with my parents. While being a working student, I was also playing for the women’s tennis team last year. Although it was undeniably tiring having to study, work, and go to practice, I always loved tennis for the feeling of controling the game and understanding that if anything goes wrong, there’s no one else to blame but myself. I like being independent and having that sense of accountability with my own actions. All of these opportunities, no matter how overwhelming, changed my mentality by strengthening my will to achieve more. I knew that there was a price for wanting to do so many things, and it helps me with basic skills such as time management, taking care of my mental health, and knowing my priorities.
J: At this point, my constitutional law class has to be my passion. Political and social issues, specifically societies remote from the west, interest me. Just recently I attended Amnesty International’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference in Philadelphia and such interests of mine intensified as movements about human rights and immigration rights were discussed. During my first semester at Arcadia, I was introduced to the International Criminal Court through my International Studies class, and I knew in a heartbeat that crimes against humanity and war crimes are areas I want to delve into. I’d like to specialize in International and Human Rights in law school. But my short-term goals to be more involved with organizations such as Amnesty and to intern at the Nationalities Center in Philadelphia, which provides services to refugees, asylum seekers, and victims of human trafficking. Social justice is an idea that I aspire to dedicate my life and future career to.