Jessica Yaser

Hometown: Evansville, Indiana
College: College of Health and Human Sciences
Major: Public Health

My initial motivation for studying abroad was to improve my Spanish language skills. I have studied Spanish since seventh grade but have always lacked a proper environment to truly test my speaking skills, so I crave that immersion experience. Since beginning my research into study abroad programs I have acquired other goals as well, such as to learn more about community health and developing nations and, most important, to be placed entirely out of my comfort zone.

I knew I wanted exposure to other cultures, so when the time came for me to choose a college, I decided on Purdue University, a school with a high international student population. International students hold a special place in my heart, which is why I chose to become an orientation leader for international students my sophomore year and probably why I yearn to become an international student myself. Their courage astounds me. In some cases, they leave home for years at a time, learn a new language, and take that incredibly scary, brave step onto a plane to a new, exotic place. During my time as a UR Global Leader, I made friends from China, Malaysia, India, Korea, and Indonesia. In addition to teaching me how to count from 1-10 in Chinese and the basic tenets of Hinduism, my international students from last August taught me what it means to take a risk. They were such an inspiration to me as I was just beginning my study abroad research.

Even if the three courses I take in the Dominican Republic do not transfer neatly and count toward my graduation requirements, the material covered in this program will still be enormously beneficial. Clearly I will be able to learn skills that relate to my future career goals. My main goal for this study abroad experience is Spanish fluency, or at least near-fluency. Learning Spanish in a medical setting when my future career will involve health promotion and/or management would be an invaluable asset. I expect this program to show me more about which direction I want to pursue within my area of study: health promotion in non-profit organizations, crunching numbers doing epidemiology research, community development, or some kind of hands-on, issue-specific advocacy. I expect my values to change as part of this experience, and I hope to see the words “salud” and “comunidad” differently and, as a result, make changes to my career goals. I am ready for the most valuable, most exciting summer of my life.

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