Updated: Oct 12, 2019
I am just an American, half Arabic and half Latina wanting to impact the community. This is my story:
When I moved to the United States, I was fairly comfortable. I was provided with an A-2 visa by the Embassy of the United States in Bogota based on my labor status as an Officer for the Consulate of Colombia in Miami.
To be honest, I arrived with money, which was a combination of governmental funds from Colombia for me to relocate and the monthly financial support of my parents.
As soon as I started my job I rented a fancy 2-bedroom apartment in Coconut Grove and bought an SUV. I registered my son in a public school and because I could understand and speak English, the process was not so challenging. Locals often say Spanish is enough to live in Miami—and I entirely agree.
Then I met my husband and moved to State College. Shortly after arriving, I felt I was in trouble as I had to speak English 24/7 and improve my overall communication. Moreover, I thought I wanted to move back to Miami because I just struggled to mingle and fit in with this community.
The adjustment period was demanding and required me to juggle several aspects of my life at once. The challenge varied from larger tasks—like finding a job—to daily trials, such as learning the proper lingo of English, writing a solid email in English, taking care of my kids and trying to pass my Master of Laws with all As. I wish I had someone to tell me what to write in a school’s note—although my 5-year-old son's English combined with mine was enough to learn how to tell the school that my son was sick.
It may sound funny to you (reader), but language can be the greatest battle, even if one understands and speaks it fluently. Once, I even almost got in trouble because I did not know that my (then) 6-year-old son could not go with me to Colombia without an excuse. "Laws of truancy? what is that," I asked. In another occasion, I called 911 because I did not find my cat! Don’t dare to do so, BTW.
I went to law school for a Master of Laws and Judge Kistler allowed me to do an internship in his chamber. There, I met Bonnie. She was my first boss in State College and through the Coordination of the Youth Aid Panel (a part time job) I learned that State College aims to build a safe and diverse community, and that I was welcomed here. I just had to accept the opportunities and volunteer.
Today, I participate in almost every event that my schedule permits and utilize 70% of my time for generating inclusion and building relations with international communities. In addition, I am a Board member of a few non-profits such as Global Connections and the American Association of University Women.
Now you might be wondering what’s my next step, right?
These are the things I want to share with you. I will be updating this page with local opportunities to volunteer, links for jobs, word documents with forms labeled "how to,” events, etc.
Why should you check this page?
Because you are a foreigner, new in town, and you feel lost about everything around you. OR, you are an American who doesn’t know about all the fun things in Centre County. Also, if you love traveling, check out my blogs. I will be writing for the Centre Daily Times beginning Oct 12th as a freelancer.
What you will find in this page:
* Translations from the community that I find interesting and important. Feel free to shoot me an email if you need anything translated and you cannot pay for it.
* Events in which I am volunteering
* Events that I believe are important to attend
* Events in which I am not volunteering but I believe in promoting diversity, inclusion, awareness, etc.
* Ideas (form) about how to write an email in English
* Ideas (form) about how to send a note to school in English
* Articles about the events I volunteer in the community.