National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) participant is the U.S. Department of State’s November 2018 American Abroad Student of the Month. From Mesa, Arizona, Jessica attended Westwood High School before going to Beijing, China with NSLIY.
Jessica, a NSLI-Y 2017 Summer alum, is currently on the 2018-2019 NSLI-Y Academic Year program in Beijing. Since arriving in Beijing, Jessica has become the Director-General of the Model United Nations club, a featured performer in the chamber ensemble, and a member of the dance club at her host school, Beijing No. 80 High School. As an active member in the school community, Jessica embraces every opportunity to interact with local and international students. One of her favorite activities is sitting next to random people in the cafeteria, hoping to strike up a conversation and hear their stories. Listening to the experiences of the people she meets not only enables her to practice her Chinese, but also to expand her world view.
In October, Jessica volunteered to plan the annual Halloween party at the Beijing American Center. The event, a hit in the community every year, sold out in only a few hours! It took much organization and creativity to craft a presentation and activities that would provide an American Halloween experience to local children. Jessica accomplished this work on top of her academic studies, extracurricular activities, and time with her host family.
Jessica’s host mother recently published a blog post raving about how great a role model Jessica has become to her host sister, praising her dedication to learning Chinese, her adaptability, and the “sunshine” personality she has brought to the family. In the blog post, her host mom stresses the importance of international relations and observed that cultural understanding begins with adolescents. Jessica and her host sister have already learned so much from each other, and thanks to Jessica’s great attitude and curiosity, her host mom looks forward to the continued, mutual, cultural learning experiences.