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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Thank you New Zealand


While waiting for my flight to depart for New Zealand, the flight attendants went through their typical preflight safety instructions.

“Make sure all large bags are placed in the over head cabins. All laptops and large devices put away. Buckle your seat belts, and in the event that oxygen levels decrease in cabins, oxygen masks will descend in front of each passenger. Put your oxygen mask on first before helping others.”

I’ve been on a plane a few times in my life. But for some reason since that flight, those safety instructions stuck with me in a way they never had before.

Truthfully, when I decided to go abroad, I was exhausted, anxious and terrified. I was exhausted from being at St. Joe’s for an accumulation of reasons: burnt out from overworking myself, feeling like I don’t belong here—a square peg trying to fit in a round hole. I was tired of situations on campus confirming that people like me are not welcomed here. I was anxious because I’ve always done everything to keep school as free or low cost as possible for my family between my scholarship and being an RA.

So, having that conversation about studying abroad with my immigrant parents—who taught me that going to school an hour and a half away from home was more than enough and more than they have ever done—was scary. But, I desperately needed a break from this place. I was terrified of the unknown. What would life be for me on the other side of the world? How would I afford it? I hate heights. I hate planes. How would I sit on a flight for 23 hours? I’m a senior, so what if I don’t graduate on time because I can’t get the courses I need?

Fortunately, my parents were able to find a way to make ends meet to assist me in studying abroad. Between climbing volcanoes, singing Maori (indigenous language of New Zealand) songs, going to a Zimbabwean bridal shower, dancing my butt off on a rooftop club in Auckland, stuffing my mouth with Tim Tam cookies, meeting beautiful people that hail from everywhere and standing in front of views I only use to see on my phone screen, New Zealand was one of the most life changing and breathtaking experiences of my life. I went expecting nothing, terrified and open to new experiences, and I got more than I can ever fully articulate in words.

In my almost four years of being at St. Joe’s my most memorable times are these moments of being outside and away from it.

I realized how important it is for students, especially students of color, to get out of the walls of this institution and to have an enriching experience that is more than what we receive here. Because truthfully, I have learned more about what it means to exist in the melanin of my skin in a space like St. Joe’s rather than anything academic.

Not that the world is any different from the realities of this place, but I think it’s important for students to be exposed to other experiences and realities that aren’t just pain, frustration and fatigue. I learned that the world is complicated, but it’s also astonishingly beautiful. The opportunity to go abroad gave me new experiences and realities.

I wasn’t just the black girl. I was a student. I was a tourist. Some days I did nothing and some days I felt adventurous. But overall, this experience was the first time in a long time “I put my mask on first.”

This is why it’s important for St. Joe’s to create opportunities and provide resources to ensure that members of different communities, and from all walks of life, have the opportunity to partake in life
transforming experiences that can save us and make our experience at St. Joe’s.

The reality is that if I didn’t go abroad, I don’t know where I would be right now, nor would I have the energy to finish what I started here at St. Joe’s. So, thank you Aotearoa (the Maori name for New Zealand) for breathing life into me more than you’ll ever know. And thank you to my parents, for your sacrifices that made this experience possible for me. I’m eternally grateful.

As for St. Joe’s, please create access for all students, particularly students of color, to be able to participate in more experiences like these.

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