Amanda De Souza

About me:

If someone were to tell me a year ago that I would go to China the summer before starting my senior year, I would have never believed them. I feel that I have progressed and grown as a person in the past year, and this China trip has taught me so much about myself and others. Learning about a new culture while experiencing it first hand was a shock at first, but looking back at it in this moment, I think it was absolutely amazing. When I first heard about China I thought, “oh hell no, I would not survive there” then when I got more information, heard the price, talked to my parents, I was set on “this is a once in a life time chance, not many people I know can say they’ve been to China” my mom told me if she would’ve moved to America earlier in her life and went to school here and gotten that opportunity she would have taken it.

It was really difficult for me to leave my family, I’ve never traveled far without them. Traveling across the world by myself was a big step. I felt afraid of disappointing them, scared of losing my things, spending too much money. But at the same time I felt ready to be independent, free and ready to prove to them that I’m responsible.

I loved working with the children in Hengshui. It showed me my love for teaching and that I might like to pursue it. I’m very passionate about children and learning new cultures. I’m so anxious to see where life will take the students I wish them the very best and know they will do great things. I could write so many pages about that week of being at the school but I’m going to keep it summed up. The children made the heat and living at the villas so worth it and I will never forget that experience. They are such hard workers and kind genuine souls. I never have felt so welcomed and loved. I have a whole new perspective on the Chinese culture and will never be quick to judge a culture or stereotype it without experiencing it first hand or learning about it from people who have. Hengshui will always have a special place in my heart.

Another very significant part of my trip was visiting the Great Wall. I never in my life thought I would go there. It’s one of the 7 wonders in the world. The view was mesmerizing and I felt on top of the world, ready for anything. I felt like if I could climb up to the Great Wall of China I could do anything I put my mind to. I can’t explain how magical the feeling was, how beautiful it was. I feel so blessed and grateful for having gotten this opportunity. I Facetime my parents and showed them I felt like they were there with me. It felt like a dream.

I feel that this trip was an amazing experience and that many more students should experience it at least once in their life. I want to thank all the chaperones and people who put it together, I’m very grateful for the opportunity.


Atiyana Alvarez

About me:

Today July 30 2018 is the last day of one of the biggest adventures in my life. I’m leaving China, the beautiful hot humid cultural country to go back to a much more familiar cooler windy cozy place I like to call home. Although I am very ecstatic to go back home, I will miss China very much because I did have a very true life changing experience. It started when my group first arrived on July 12th 2018, I knew nothing about China except for the fact that in America we have Chinatown which I had thought was going to be about the same thing. Of course my assumptions were all wrong. I was wrong about a lot of things but that’s what made the experience so much more worth it.

Chinese students and the Chinese people in general have taught me and helped me realize so many factors in my life that I took for granted before I came to China. Simply the fact of accepting that little things can carry such deeper meanings than what they appear on the outside. The Chinese culture has taught me to just be myself and that what the rest of society has to offer is not what I have to be because there is so much more to life than pleasing others expectations. For example when we had gone to the Great Wall of China, it showed me that when you finally get to the top you realize that the journey on the way up made the success that much more worth it. The Forbidden City and ancient city grounds have taught me that true beauty lies within the images that pictures cannot capture. The photographs aren’t the same as actually being in the moment and physically feeling every emotion that runs through you when you actually take in the moment.


Natalie Hom

About me:

Never have I gone on a trip outside the United States without my parents. With this program, I got the opportunity to go to my birth country for a unique life experience. I was born in China and even though my parents are from Hong Kong, I could never fluently speak Cantonese, and definitely not Mandarin. When I heard about this cultural exchange experience I was at first not that interested, but honestly, after I heard the price was $650 for everything, I was immediately interested and wanted to go. I was talking with my mom the night before I heard about this trip, about how I should learn more Chinese and use the language more. So after hearing about an opportunity to be immersed into Chinese culture and to learn, first hand, how students learn, eat, and live, I was ready to experience and take in all the memories.

There were many great experiences and memories that I will honestly treasure. Some of my favorite memories were made at Lin Fen Experimental Middle School. On the first day of class, I met two girls and one guy, names 贾静文, 杨雪瑞, and 情场浪友. Every day since then, I talked with them, played some games, and we taught each other a part of our cultures. One specific moment was when there was a break and everyone around our table was on their phones with their textbooks out in from of them. 贾静文 looked at me and said “Oh, these are our textbooks, we must memorize all of this or else we cannot go to bed.”

There were many things to learn from this trip and many things to share with others. Something important to share is the difference between cultures and how to deal with them. My group, was honestly one of the better groups at this, we treated the Chinese students as out equals and talked to them as we would talk to friends, but maybe a little slower for better understanding. Others, students and chaperones included, would talk to the Chinese as if they were infants who couldn’t understand anything. They didn’t appreciate the Chinese culture and were slightly racist, they didn’t even notice their comments made us American students feel ashamed to be American. Something I took from this part of the trip is to let others know how smart and able the Chinese students were, and how lively their culture is, not the stereotypical views of studying all the time and being mindless dolls that follow everything that their parents say.

I learned a lot about my own culture that I never grew up with, I will still try to be in contact with the friends I made, to update them on what happens in American and to keep in touch with them, so the day they come to America, it will feel like no time has passed.


Maria Vega Arevelo

About me:

Maria Vega Arevelo, Middle College at Skyline College’s Class of 2018 received the $12,000 Marie A. Calderilla Scholarship which enables women to pursue courses of study within the San Mateo County Community College District that they would otherwise be unable to follow due to limited financial means. The selection committee looks for academic promise, women who have demonstrated a commitment to completing a degree or certificate program or to increasing their work skills, and personal characteristics such as honesty, good judgment and perseverance.

Maria applied to the Middle College at Skyline College for “the opportunity to accelerate my academic and career aspirations. I had the opportunity to learn about myself which I am thankful for and realizing my love for Engineering and wanting to work in the STEM field.” Maria gives back to her community by volunteering at the local library and church, she wants to “become a person who makes a difference in the world.” She want to be an engineer and work in a company that will support her creative ideas and inventions or projects that she plans to have in the future. Her career and educational plan is to remain at Skyline College and take advantage of the Promise program, earn an associate degree in Mathematics, and transfer as an engineering major to University of California at Davis.


Ahlaya Millen San Mateo County Community Colleges Foundation Scholarship
Ana Giula Silva Serra Dale and Helen Mersereau Scholarship
Anson Ma San Mateo County Community Colleges Foundation Scholarship
Carolann O’Day Leadership and Community Service Scholarship
Celeste Dela Llana San Mateo County Community Colleges Foundation Scholarship
Diego Escalante San Mateo County Community Colleges Foundation Scholarship
Hailey-Skye Center Atkinson Foundation Scholarship
Jeremy Kattenhorn Atkinson Foundation Scholarship
Johanna Umanzor San Mateo County Community Colleges Foundation Scholarship
Juliette Cabezas San Mateo County Community Colleges Foundation Scholarship
Raena Manantan Isaac Mejia Scholarship for Middle School Outreach Program
Anna Jalandoni Dale and Helen Mersereau Scholarship
Maria Herrera Luna San Mateo County Community Colleges Foundation Scholarship
Angel Villegas Atkinson Foundation Scholarship
Kyaw Tun San Mateo County Community Colleges Foundation Scholarship
Leann-Kate Gajunia Pacific Dining Student Scholarship
Luke Cruz San Mateo County Community Colleges Foundation Scholarship
Mario Acuna San Mateo County Community College District Bookstore Textbooks Scholarship
Patrick Perez Dale and Helen Mersereau Scholarship
Rheanna Mariano Atkinson Foundation Scholarship