Hello APC, my name is Camy Pierre-Louis and I am a sophmore at Rice University. In 2016 I was blessed with the opportunity to participate in a study abroad program in China through a language immersion organization called NSLI-Y. Looking back I learned so much from my NSLI-Y summer, here are some of my takeaways:
My NSLIY experience can only be described as surprising and life changing. I did not plan to apply to NSLIY nor did I know it existed until a friend showed it to me in the middle of the library. Excitedly, she told me that there was this program that let people who studied different languages travel for free. It sounded too good to be true, but I trusted the proceed, wrote my essays, did my interviews, and was accepted into the NSLIY Xiamen 2016 group.
Being in China was an unforgettable experience. My skin and hair texture made me very popular; there was a seemingly public celebration of foerigners and curiosity regarding my physical features that I had never encountered before. I grew to love the appreciation and began to encourage their curiosity. They made me feel special and displayed a kindness that demolished the “xenophobic” stereotype that I had been warned of. Below I’ve attached some of my excerpts from when I was in China and how I felt on the ride home. China changed me. China was not afraid to tell me how beautiful I am.
(DAY 0: PRE-DEPARTURE)
It’s gotten more and more real that I will be going to China for 6 weeks. I am not scared, but this morning I was a little sad thinking about all the people I’d miss like my friends, my family, and my parents. I know that this is what’s best for me and my future. I’m also fortunate enough to be born in this age of technology so something tells me communication won’t be a problem 🙂
(DAY 14ish : **China Side Effects)
There’s a certain standard for beauty here which includes not being overexposed. The lack of sexual subliminal messages from TV, advertisements, and general fashion really shows me how desensitized I was. There’s a general respect for women here that I really appreciate.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder
I really miss my family and friends so much more being here. Unconditional love is hard to come by so I miss them so much and I appreciate them that much more.
(Day 45: Coming Home : Shortest 14 Hours)
From an objective view, 45 days is a long time to spend with the same group of people and 14 hours is a long time for a plane ride. In actuality, these past 45 days and 14 hours have been the shortest of my life. I can be happy going home knowing I accomplished everything I set out to accomplish and more. I have improved my Chinese language skills primarily in reading and writing. More importantly, I made so many new friends and shared so many memories with these amazing people. Such an experience is something I’ll never forget.