Dealing with Family Problems

Hispanic girk looking sadFamilies are those whom we can rely on for support, for love and those whom we have a special bond with, but we don’t always choose to embrace our feelings towards one another.

According to Psychology Today, it is common to have family problems, especially when living with several teenagers at home with their parents. Some of these issues include alcoholism, abuse, feelings of guilt, depression, financial, and anger towards family members.

The Better Health Channel shares three tips on how to overcome these common problems that can be sometimes be too hard to deal with.

1. Communication
Even though it is a cliché when someone says “Communication is key,”  it is true. “A lot of the times, unwanted problems arise because we don’t talk to each other enough. If we could communicate more with one another, we wouldn’t have to deal with the extra stress of unnecessary problems,” says Bianca, 24. Talking might sometimes be difficult, especially when it is something that is bothering you, but even a small amount of communication goes a long way. Keep in mind that the idea is to resolve the conflict, not win the argument.

2. Listen
Try to stay calm by putting your emotions aside and don’t interrupt the other person while they are speaking. Sometimes we are too stubborn to realize that we are letting our pride get in the way of fixing our problems. Understanding what they are saying by asking questions through an open and honest discussion will be beneficial in the long run.

3. Seek Help
If it is a more serious problem where communication is not possible, seek professional help. “When I was going through some intense family problems, I didn’t know what to do. I decided to go to my school counselor and talk about it, it took a lot for me to go, but I couldn’t deal with it alone. And now I can talk to my family about it and things are slowly getting better,” says Mary, 19.

Whether it’s talking with your family or with a counselor, you are not alone. You don’t have to deal with your family problems by yourself. Millions of people are dealing with the same things you are. Communication is key, listen to your heart, and seek for what you need.

“My family and I don’t have a good communication environment. My parents are old school and they think their way is the right way. And there’s no way of  telling them otherwise. I was so fed up and tired with everything that I decided to take it into my own hands. I made my parents listen to me. I made them see how much stress and pain they were putting me through. And that was the smartest thing I could’ve done,” says 22 year-old Clarissa.

Even when you think it’s inevitable, something can be done about it. You just have to speak up, let your voice be heard. Clarissa adds, “I have never been this happy with my life, taking a stand for myself  was the scariest and the best thing I’ve done in my life.”

Teen’s Guide for Finding a Job

Money2Recently, my family and I went on a very cool family vacation in South America; every day was filled with fun-in-the-sun, hanging out with cousins, and no worries, whatsoever. When you’re a kid at 15, you don’t want to be worrying about anything but what fun thing you’re going to do that day. However, upon returning to the United States, I was immediately hit with the realization that all my friends were getting jobs.  I was VERY surprised that so many of my friends were already taking on this huge responsibility! Not wanting to fall behind, I immediately searched: “What do I need to know about getting a job as a 16-year-old?” Well, I found a lot of great info for chicas like myself wanting to get a job, but not knowing where to start.

Getting Started:

Find the basic information like hiring practices and salary. Most places that hire teens will start doing so at 16 years old, however, most states restrict what kind of jobs teens can do, and how many hours we can work. If you’re 14 or 15, for example, you can work a maximum of 8 hours on a school day, and 16 hours a week during the school year.

It is always good to know that there is a minimum on how much you are required to be paid, and each state has its minimum, which you can check at this link: http://www.dol.gov/whd/minwage/america.htm For a reference, the United States Federal minimum wage is $7.25.

Finding the Right Fit:

While not all places will hire teens, some great places to start looking for a job if you’re a teen include fast food and restaurants, or retail shops.  If you love little kids, why not be a baby-sitter? While it is not necessary if you’re working for your close grown-up friends, getting a baby-sitting certification class is always a good idea so you can show other adults you have experience once your customers start to grow. If you need help thinking of other jobs, some likely ones are as library assistants if you love books, as a lifeguard at your local pool, or maybe a job at your favorite arcade or amusement park, or as a sport coaching-assistant.  If you’re good with computers, you could work at your local technology appliances stores, like Best Buy– depending on your technical skills you could easily be earning $15 an hour!

Building your Work Experience:

If you’re working for a store, or other business, don’t expect to get your ideal job position right when you start if you have no previous job experience. In most cases, you will be getting paid minimum wage and working cleaning, delivering, and filing jobs before you can move to handling money or becoming a restaurant server. Don’t be discouraged, it takes time but you WILL get there.

However, because of the mentioned above, I advise you to start your OWN business, be your own boss! If you have a lawn mower at home, you could easily start a business and be getting a bigger portion of the pay! Start by asking around your neighborhood or around a close neighborhood that has bigger lawns. If that’s not for you, simply think of a hobby that you have, and see how you can use it to your advantage, be creative! If you like art or crafts, consider making your crafts to sell at a local market or fair. Use any of your skills to help get the job done for other people, in the end, you have more control on what job you will be doing and you will definitely be making more money for your work.

All you need is to make sure you have thought of a plan on how you’re going to run your business, and stay committed. Soon, the money will start rolling in!

Latina Spotlight: Marlett García (MSW)

Originally from Presidio, Texas, Marlett García is a Victim Specialist at the Paso del Norte Center of Hope

(a program under the Center for Children).

What are some of your job responsibilities?
To provide extensive case management services to victims of human trafficking to include crisis-intervention, immediate and long-term assistance, and referral support. To collaborate with law enforcement and social services agencies to provide ongoing emotional and social services to victims while working through the victimization.

Other responsibilities include: assisting victims with the completion of documentation and applications as a means to obtain federal, state, and/or local assistance. Also, to conduct trainings and presentations to agencies, community organizations, law enforcement, and medical personnel on human trafficking in order to increase knowledge and awareness on the subject.

What is your educational background?  I obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology with a minor in Sociology from Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas in 2011. Four years later, I obtained a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Texas at El Paso.

Describe your college experience and how it helped you prepare for your career: Attending college was one of the best decisions of my life. It was truly a wonderful experience! College provided me with the necessary skills to become a constructive, adaptive, and innovative professional. My professors and courses enabled me to learn new skills and improve old ones by creating a constructive and stimulating environment which was conducive to my professional and personal growth.  Learning about practices and services that assist individuals and groups prepared and equipped me with the skills necessary to work with male and female victims to include youth, LGBTQI community, and juvenile detainees who fall victim to human trafficking. The ability to provide adequate services to each client can be attributed to the education received while in college.

How did you find your current job?  In 2014, I began my final year in Graduate School at the University of Texas at El Paso. To meet the requirements set by the Master of Social Work (MSW) program, I became a second year intern for the Paso del Norte Center of Hope. As an intern, I was task with the duty to research trends, data and statistics, and evidence-based practices in order to understand the complexity of human trafficking and to improve the community’s awareness and knowledge on the subject. The position as an intern provided insightful information on the agency and its mission to serve victims of human trafficking. Immediately, right after graduation, I applied for the position of Victim Specialist for the Paso del Norte Center of Hope.

What did you do to prepare for this career? I spent countless hours researching human trafficking. To learn about its trends, indicators, challenges, gaps, and implications I spent many hours reading articles and books on the subject. I also watched numerous documentaries and movies that depicted true encounters experienced by victims of labor and/or sex trafficking.  Most importantly, I asked lots of questions. While serving as an intern, I shadowed my supervisor and mentor, Mrs. Virginia McCrimmon. Through her supervision I was provided with the opportunity to ask questions and learn about real cases and experiences from victims of trafficking. Immersing myself in the work, I learned essential information which became beneficial during the process of obtaining this position. Serving as an intern and familiarizing myself with the work and the topic prepared me for this career.

What do you like most about your job?  My favorite part of my job is having the opportunity to help individuals who are resilient, driven, and strong-willed despite their victimization and trauma.  For me, experiencing the moments when a client obtains his/her documentation or when he/she feels empowered to disclose information about the victimization is truly significant and powerful. Moments such as those make my job so rewarding.

What is the most challenging part of your job? Most challenging part of the job is the limitation to provide services to potential clients who do not self-identify as victims. Also, the trauma and experiences endured by victims of human trafficking can create a significant restraint on services as victims are not likely to collaborate with law enforcement unless positive rapport has been established.

What advice would you give to help a girl prepare for a job like yours? Never be afraid to ask questions. To learn and become comfortable with your position, you must never be afraid to question your role and that of your agency. Give yourself the opportunity to learn new skills as well as improve new ones. Take time to assess your strengths and implement them in your work setting. By acknowledging your strengths and skills you will become a more effective and innovative professional.

What do you do for fun when you aren’t working? I like to dance, cook, and paint on my days off. I also enjoy volunteering for different organizations around the community. Keeping myself engaged in healthy activities is vital for my well-being as it provides balance and stability.

 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star_Wars_The_Force_Awakens-1As of January 2016, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the fourth highest-grossing film at the worldwide box office; raking in $1.54 billion and is projected to overtake “Avatar” at $2.89 billion, “Titanic” at $2.19 billion and “Jurassic World” at $1.67 billion. The big-screen often lacks diversity and representation of women, but Star Wars: The Force Awakens enhances both the strength of women and representation of minorities.

Guatemalan-American actor Oscar Isaac and British-Nigerian actor John Boyega as Finn have received wide acclaim for their roles in the film. Isaac received recognition for his role in the 2013 black comedy-drama Inside Llewyn Davis.  Isaac is often noted as part of the next generation of great actors, garnering comparisons to Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, and Jon Voight. Isaac’s rise to fame and increasing importance in Hollywood is a step towards equal representation of people of color in film, since he subverserses Hollywood’s expectations for Latino actors by avoiding being typecast.

“The people that cast films and TV shows, hopefully they will able to see past their limited ideas of what ethnicity is,” Isaac said in a backstage interview after his Golden Globe win. “There’s not a lot of us and it’s difficult for people that look not like the status quo in this country to get great roles, and it’s happening a little bit more and I feel humbled and honored and blessed to have the opportunity to do that.”

Although not a Latina, actress Daisy Ridley deserves recognition for her role as Rey. Ridley provides much needed female recognition in big budget blockbuster action films. Unlike other females in actions films, Rey is not meant to be a supporting character to a male lead, but rather she is her own character: steadfast, strong, resilient, self-sufficient, and smart. While her character could use further development, it is important to note that this is only the beginning of Rey’s journey, the audience expects to see her character grow and mature as the trilogy goes on.

Nonetheless, it is Nigerian-Mexican Lupita Nyong’o who also deserves recognition in her role of Maz Kanata. Nyong’o lends her voice to the thousand-year-old sage pirate that has a mysterious connection with the force and helps our heroine, Rey, through her journey.

Nyong’o was born in Mexico City to Nigerian parents. Although raised in Kenya, Nyong’o spent time living in Guerrero and studied at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico at the Learning Center for Foreigners. Nyong’o lays claim to her Latinidad through her Mexican nationality and brings much needed recognition to the 1.38 million Afro-Mexicans who were just officially recognized by the Mexican government this past December.

Nyong’o’s breakthrough performance was in 2013 in the critically acclaimed historical drama Twelve Years a Slave. Her role as Patsey earned her an academy award for best supporting actress; she is the first Kenyan and the first Mexican actress to receive an academy award.

“I’ve seen the quarrels over my nationality, but I’m Kenyan and Mexican at the same time,” Nyong’o said in an interview with El Mañana. Furthermore, Nyong’o talks about the difficulty and racism she faced while living in Mexico. People are quick to disregard Nyong’o’s Latinidad by claiming that just because she was born in Mexico City that does not mean she can be considered Latina. It is time for Nyong’o’s complex and hybrid Latina identity to be embraced by Latinos just as Latinos should embrace the large community of Afro-Latinos who have been subjugated, underrepresented, and oppressed for too long.

Whether you are a die-hard Star Wars fan or not, seeing strong female characters (who can forget Leia) and the inclusion of minorities in the big-screen is noteworthy.

Getting Involved in Sports

People turn to sports as kids, teens, and young adults for a number of reasons. For many, playing a sport is an extracurricular outlet that allows them to exercise their skills in teamwork and physical activity.

Evelyn currently runs track and cross-country at Americas High School in El Paso, Texas. “People don’t appreciate girls in sports, specifically Latina women…so I think it [is] better to have more diversity,” states Evelyn Gomez , 16.  Although Evelyn makes a very good point by acknowledging that female athletes are not shown the same appreciation as the men in the world of athletics, she also recognizes that girls and women continue to excel in their respective sports, regardless, and achieve their goals.

“I admire the [girls] in my high school that get scholarships for the sports I play.” Seeing that her fellow teammates can accomplish so much is very motivating to Evelyn.

19-year-old college sophomore Zaira Lujan also ran track and cross-country throughout her years at Coronado High School in El Paso, Texas. When she started at the University of Rochester in the Fall of 2014, Zaira had intend to run track again, but plans changed and she did not join the team. Instead, come second semester, Zaira found herself playing a different sport altogether, one she’d never imagined she would play.

“I went to the [rugby] practices and loved the vibe the team had. They were open and accepting…I’m glad that I gave it a chance,” said Zaira.

Having played multiple sports, both Evelyn and Zaira know a thing or two about dedication and teamwork. These are the values that make each team member strong in mind and body. “In my competitions, I didn’t run against other girls, per say, but I ran against  myself. I don’t know about the abilities of the other runners, but I know mine and that’s all I need to concentrate on…” says Zaira, as she reflects on her years as a runner. Zaira believes that through self-motivation as well as encouragement by her coaches and teammates, she has become a better athlete.

Evelyn also acknowledges the positive impact that playing a sport has had on her life: “Participating in a sport provides structure and discipline…It helps you be prompt, ready, [and able to] overcome challenges.” These are qualities that both athletes have been able to apply when they are participating in their respective sports, but they have also positively affected their approaches to academics and other responsibilities.

Not only are women athletes underappreciated, as Evelyn suggests, but Latinas are also noticeably underrepresented in U.S. sports teams. This is not necessarily something that should be a weight on the shoulders of young Latinas, whether they are simply looking for an activity to join or looking to play professionally. However, it is something for the nation as a whole keep in mind. It is difficult for girls to even name a professional U.S. Latina athlete that they can say they admire.

Evelyn and Zaira definitely advise Latinas everywhere to stick with or try out a sport, if they are up for it. They both see the value of playing in a sport from a non-competitive standpoint, as participation can result in new friendships and help one learn about her physical strengths.

Rosca de Reyes

Photo Credit: http://www.mexicoinmykitchen.com/2011/01/rosca-de-reyesthree-kings-bread-recipe.html

Photo Credit: http://www.mexicoinmykitchen.com/2011/01/rosca-de-reyesthree-kings-bread-recipe.html

On January 6, families and friends gathered around the continent to take part of a 300 year-old tradition.

Día de los Reyes is traditionally celebrated twelve days after Christmas. Similar to Christmas, children expect to receive presents from los Reyes Magos (the three wise men) who brought the presents of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to newborn Jesus. In preparation for los Reyes Magos, children leave their shoes outside filled with hay and water for the animals that los Reyes ride on.

La Rosca de Reyes (king’s bread/cake) is usually served for merienda along with chocolate caliente or atole. The round shape of the bread evokes the crowns worn by los Reyes Magos while the colorful dried fruit signifies the crown jewels. Others extend the metaphor of the circular shape to the symbolism of the eternal love for God, which has no beginning nor end.

Arguably the most significant part of la rosca is the appearance of a plastic infant Jesus. If the plastic doll appears when cutting a slice from the bread, then the person who found the plastic doll must host a feast on February 2, otherwise known as Candlemas Day. On February 2, the people who were sharing the rosca rejoin again to eat tamales and drink atole. Sometimes there will be more than one plastic figurine hidden in la rosca, which helps reduce the cost and work of the festivities on February 2nd.

While some families prefer to avoid getting the plastic doll, it is actually considered good luck to find the baby Jesus — it is believed that finding the plastic doll is a sign of prosperity.

Other traditions include hiding a ring and a thimble. It is said that the person who finds the ring will be the next to get married, and the person who finds the thimble will spend the rest of the year single.

Latina Leader Valeria Chavez

Valeria Chavez
A recent graduate of Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey, twenty-four year old Valeria Chavez has earned a law degree from the prestigious Mexican university. Driven by the injustices that she saw by everyday life, especially towards minors, she felt an internal calling to help those that were oppressed by their situation.

During her time as a college student she “[discovered] the inconsistencies within the Mexican system, the large pockets of corruption that asphyxiate the country, the high poverty rates, the millions of injustices that Mexican women suffer [as well as the kids] that were abandoned by their fathers to pursue the ‘American Dream’ or the mothers that were kidnapped by organizes crime so they can work in drug laboratories. Who is not going to be motivated with all this suffering,” challenges Chavez.

Being aware of the world that many Mexicans live in, Chavez threw herself into her community. Back in 2007 she began volunteering at Los Brazos de Dios A.C., a kitchen soup in Chihuahua, Chihuahua for children and teenagers that were afflicted with poverty. Every December the organization planned a posada, gathering of several days that provided lodging, and Chavez would talk and play with the children. Throughout the rest of the year she would celebrate El Dia de Niño, Children’s Day, or visit them in the summer to see what they were up to.

Although she moved out of the state, Chavez continued to make an impact wherever she went. In college, she created the program called Rescatando Mentes, Rescuing Minds, which drove to “rescue the minds” of children and educate them on topics that might be taboo for them. Chavez was inspired to create this program since in 2014, in areas of Michoacán, Guerrero, Jalisco, and State of Mexico, children were being kidnapped from rural places by criminal groups regardless of age and sex.

 

“It occurred to me to present this idea to the Instituto de Desarrollo Social del Tecnológico de Monterrey (IDESS), to start a community service project and that way form a group of my peers that will help me carry this out,” says Chavez.

According to Chavez, the program was built on four building blocks. The first was to giving children ways to prevent being victims of sexual assault, what to do if they were victims already, and how to talk about it.  The second pillar was to prevent addiction of drugs. They kids were informed of the types of addiction that exist and the consequences that happen due to the addiction. The third pillar was to motivate them and inspire the children. They were shown videos, had presentations, and given role models of legendary figures that managed to do great things by starting with nothing. The last block was built on the rights of children. Chavez and her team explained the rights they have as children and reminded them that they needed to be respected. Overall, the project was a success as the children and schools welcome this project into their classrooms.

Chavez built her experience as acting president of, La Sociedad de Alumnos de la carrera de Derecho y Ciencias Políticas, the Society of Alumnus  for Law and Political Science, for three semesters of college. She helped organize trips to historical landmarks in Mexico such as the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation, Senate of the Republic, Government Palace, among many more. Within the second semester, the organization had invited key figures from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Ecuador. Chavez says that these visits were crucial as a student since you learn things outside of the classroom.

 

Being the first lawyer in her family, Chavez says that her father is her greatest inspiration to continue working. Although he passed away fourteen years ago, she remembers how her father was able to accomplish great things despite not going to college. To this day, Chavez continues to be reaping from her father’s hard work. “To me that is something that is worthy to admire every day,” says Chavez.

Currently the young lawyer is working in Ochoa Figueroa de Abogados, a law firm in Mexico, where she is the leader of an investigative project. Her team is currently compiling a “Libro Blanco,” a document meant to yield information over a certain topic, for the State Government of Mexico so they can look for any administrative inconsistencies within their spheres.

Where ever she is, Chavez wants to create change. “I wish to make a difference and leave a fingerprint wherever I go. There is no [final] answer and I believe that no one has discovered it, but I want to continue working towards making smaller changes to hopefully create a large one. There are many things that move me like injustices, education, and poverty, and they all can’t be solved at the same time. But I am sure that it doesn’t matter if you’re in the lowest position or the highest one we might find ourselves in, there will always be something worthy to do for society.”

Self Defense

Learning to use the mind as a weapon is empowering. It is also, paradoxically, humbling. And power that is cooled by a sense of humility is a good thing,” said Myrna Y Boyer, the founder of the Women’s Personal Defense Center in El Paso.
Boyer was able to share with us her amazing story about how she survived and overcame an attack that almost took her life. When she was 36, Boyer encountered a male passerby in a hallway and immediately sensed danger. To refrain from being impolite, she decided to smile at the man, showing no hard feelings. After they passed he turned and hit her in the back, throwing her far down the hallway rendering her unconscious. Her spidey senses weren’t far off, but she ignored them. She woke up in a room with the man’s legs on her arms pinning her down, with his hands tight around her throat. Miraculously she was able to lung him off of her and escape, but so did he.
Almost twenty years later, Boyer has been able to focus her energy on helping women learn self defense mechanisms. Boyer believes self defense skills are important for girls and women with statistics stating how one out of every five women in America has been the victim of rape, or attempted rape according to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey. Also, less than half domestic violence reports are reported to police, so something must be done. Females ages 12 to 24 are at the greatest risk for experiencing a rape or sexual assault finds the Department of Justice. With these grave facts sweeping the nation, Boyer gives free self defense lessons and workshops to women, and lectures around town. She has written on the power of the mind in the face of an assault and informed Latinitas on ways to stay safe.

Boyer also wrote the article, “The Mind as a Weapon: Gaining the Edge in personal Defense” as a guide to women on how to brace themselves in the face of an attack. First she describes personal safety. “Effective personal defense practices are 90 percent attitude and 10 percent technique,” she shared.

Boyer also urges an awareness of your surroundings to help form the correct attitude if any danger should occur. Once again, Boyer stresses how important your attitude is, even the attitude your body language can communicate. “Defense begins with prevention,” and the more you can communicate an awareness of your environment and those around you, the better you can become at taking preventative measures. “Often people unknowingly allow a potentially dangerous situation to escalate simply because they fail to spot the threat.” Boyer is describing the fact that an attacker can come in the form of anyone, that cute guy down the way, the weird one in the corner or some random person walking by, “safety demands that you understand the dynamics of an assault and an assailant.” Boyer also stresses how your intuition will more than likely come in handy in the face of an attack, “listening to your inner voice when a man is giving you the creeps is a good start.” In other words, when your spidey sense is acting up, listen to it, try to understand what it’s telling you. Get away, go somewhere overtly public. If you have a bad feeling inside, then you are more than likely sensing a surrounding danger.

There are a few helpful tips Boyer has left with us to keep in mind just in case you’re met with any kind of fear for your life.

1. Make yourself less accessible. If you can take cover take it, if you can run, run.
2. Never bargain with your attacker.
3. Use all weapons at your disposal.
4. Fight furiously and maintain forward pressure against your attacker.
5. Don’t stop fighting until you are safe.
6. Fight to get away, practice getting away.
7. If your assailant has a weapon, (if you are in grabbing distance) Defend, Disable, and Disarm, focus on what holds the weapon and attack it. (if you are further away) escape.

Boyer states, “techniques ride on mindset. As important as they are to learn and perfect, they are useless if you are paralyzed with fear.” She stresses the use of the mind as a weapon in any type of situation. The more control you can have over you mind in a tense or stressful situation, the better able you are to think, you’ll have a better ability to react quickly and make smarter moves. Regardless, there are preventative actions to be taken in a sticky situation, staying calm and understanding your surroundings with the right attitude are what Boyer lives by. So remember girls, the more alert you are, and the better attitude you can muster in any given situation, the greater the outcome. Latinitas greatly appreciated the time Myrna Boyer spent with us and we hope you can all learn a little something from her advice.

What’s Your Study Style?

How do you learn? To be able to answer that question, you must first figure out your way of thinking. There are plenty of ways to gather information, but there are ways that can help you better understand and remember knowledge for school tests.

Eudemic.org provides 7 different styles of learning to help one understand their style of gathering information. Solitary learning is best described as someone who prefers to study independently. If this sounds like you, be sure to study in a quiet, distraction free place. It’s always okay to talk amongst yourself and think out loud to help yourself memorize what you need to know.

The verbal learner is someone who learns faster by hearing. If this sounds like you express your  style with your parents and teacher. They may give the okay to bring a small tape recorder during verbal lessons. This way you can use that recorded info while you study.

Aural learners also learn better while listening, however it’s even better for them when they are hearing it in music form. If you feel that you can pick up on learning lyrics to a song quickly this may be your style! Try thinking of your favorite melody and make it school based. For example,you can use rhyming words to expand your vocabulary or even with counting. If you have a keyboard or something that plays different samples of sounds you can study each lesson listening to each sound at a time. The next day before you study again, play that sound and see if you can remember what you were studying the time before.

The mathematical learner is one who learns best by using charts or formulas to study. If youre a note taker this may be your style!  Understood.org gives ideas on different ways of taking notes. Some examples would include the web; which almost looks like a spider. Grab a piece of paper put your topic in the middle then circle it. Then you create legs, on each leg you write an important fact about that topic. There is also the split page method. Draw a line down the middle of a sheet of paper; use the left for your topic or date, use the right side for definitions, facts, and/or details of when certain events took place. Ideas like these will help keep you organized while you take notes to study.

Reading notes to help you learn can also be compared to the visual learner. A visual learner is someone who learns better with pictures, words, and even colors.  Even if you like to watch someone demonstrate a lesson this may be you! Using flash cards can be helpful with learning. You would write a topic, number, or drawn image on one side of a card and the details on the other side. Color coding while taking notes could also be helpful. Use colorful play dough to recreate part of a map for that geography assignment. You may find that the colors will help you pin point each states location easily.  Think of something you want to memorize, then create a picture. You may find that the next time you see that image you will remember what you had learned before. Visual media is like a “how to” video. You may find that you grasp information better by watching someone show you how it’s done vs writing or speaking about it.

A social learner is someone who wants to interact with others while learning. If you have a tutor or have been part of a study group this may be you! Communication is key for your style and you learn better role playing or even using many techniques in a group setting. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and get involved with what you want to learn. No matter your style, you can always ask your family to help with studying too.

Last but not least is our “hands on” learner. If you like to actually touch or act out what you are trying to learn this may be you! Practice your fractions with slices of pizza for fun. If you’re in class and a teacher asks for a helper, get involved! You may end up surprising yourself and the class at how quickly you can keep up with the task.

We all have different ways of learning. Some may learn in more ways then just one. So before you get ready to study figure out your style. It may save you a lot of extra time and energy. Most importantly it can help improve your confidence and your grades too.

 

Diary of an International Student

A story of an international student 

I look to my old self now and think: “Oh I’ve changed a lot.” A few years ago, I decided something that would change the rest of my life. I decided to come to study in the US and to leave my home in Mexico. My main motivation to come here was to follow my dreams. I’ve always wanted to do something different and positive that would benefit a lot of people. I wanted to become a journalist. So why not study in an American university and start working on my dreams now!

Not everything was easy.  I was really afraid. First of all, it was college and it’s a different environment from high school. Secondly, it isn’t my home. Most of the people around me used to say that I wouldn’t make it. A lot of them told me that I would come back before my first semester ended and some didn’t even want me to move away from my home! I also had to work on improving my knowledge of the English language. I fought against all the bad vibes and made it through.

Even if it’s a few minutes away between the my hometown of Juarez, Mexico and the neighboring border city of El Paso, Texas, everything’s different. I moved across the border to attend college and become an international student. The culture changes, the language, the ways people interact is different. At first, I wasn’t really excited about the differences. At the beginning, my surroundings were very different from what I was used to. People acted differently. It felt like not a lot was similar to what I was used to seeing every day. After a few days of “analyzing” the place and observing, I realized that it’s not that different. It’s just a different stage of my life. It would have been the same back in Mexico. It is just that I was growing up and that I was about to enter a new chapter of my life.

It’s hard at first to adjust to a new place. It is important to not to try to “fit in” and be like the rest. What I did was act like myself and adapt to something new. More than a year later, here I am telling you my story and my journey through it.

What do I miss? I miss my old friends. I rarely see them. When I do, there isn’t enough time. I miss spending every minute of my day with them and doing the crazy things we used to do. A good thing is that I made new friends, and I appreciate every single one of them.

I love being here. I love the reason why I’m here. I’m here to follow my dreams and to become a better person. If you’re in the same situation as I am, that is amazing. This is a great purpose and you can achieve everything you want. If you live in another country and your dream is to come here to the US, do it. You can work hard for it. Some people may be against you and your ideals, but at the end it will all be worth it. While I’m still far from achieving what I want, today I can be happy because I’m on my way.