By Michaella Jiyun Kim
“Hood is part of who I am right now,” senior Nilsa Gonzalez said.
Nilsa M. Gonzalez, who came to theU.S.fromPanamain 2009 to get a higher education with a scholarship, kept saying hello to people, not only students but also faculty and staff who were passing. It seemed that she knew every person atHoodCollegeand has adapted to the school without difficulty.
“I have tried to say hello and talk to other people not to be miserable here since I was a freshman,” she said.
Gonzalez came to Hood on the recommendation of her friend, but she had a tough time as a freshman. “I easily felt miserable when people saw me like a foreigner,” she said, “because American students had their own music, TV shows, and culture, but I didn’t have.”
Hood is small institution and has a few international students, so international students have trouble being involved in American culture and feeling a sense of belonging. But she was unable to return to her country because her family was too poor.
Another difficult thing was the language barrier.
When Gonzalez came to Hood, she was not used to English and she could not understand what was going on in school, even the orientation.
Shortly after school began, Gonzalez was informed by her RA that she needed to throw away her candle that she brought with her from home and pay a $50 fine for having a candle in her room.
“I was really upset at that time, so I always told other international students do not have a candle in their room, especially if it has a special memory,” she said.
Later, Gonzalez decided to do something to adapt herself to Hood, so she tried to meet new people every day and made events such as Asian Days and the occasion for Davis Foundation Scholarship with support from the admission office and the international office.
Also, Gonzalez sought advice from professors and made friends with anyone she could talk with in school.
Her best experience at Hood is leading the international shows in the international club for the past two years.
“During intermission of the show, some people came to me and said they didn’t want to stop the show and kept watching it,” Gonzalez said.
She added international club is not just for international students but also for American students who want to share their culture and learn other cultures.
After the success of the international show, Gonzalez tried to do more things for international students at Hood, volunteering a welcoming program, becoming president of the international club, and mentoring other international students.
However, Gonzalez believes that Hood should provide more programs for international students.
“Still there are a few programs for international students here, especially exchange students,” she said.
Gonzalez wants to become a social worker in the United States government after graduation, and get a Master’s degree in social work.
“I’m participating in many conferences, internship, and work both inside and outside of the school, and I’m meeting many new people and learning a lot from them,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez recommends Hood to other international students because Hood has no map.
“If people like a small school, are able to take their own risks, and have a passion for making and organizing new things, Hood is the right place for them,” Gonzalez said.
She assured that people easily fail many times, but they could learn from their failures.
“Take chances, put yourself out there, and learn from your failures,” Gonzalez said, “at least try to do something because there is no perfect way of doing things, and you will not lose but win if you try.”