Hi! My name is Jasmin Hernandez Santacruz (that's two last names for the price of one!). I am currently a second-year student at UC San Diego, I’m majoring in International Studies with a focus in Linguistics and I hope to minor in Business sometime soon (fingers-crossed). When I'm not busy with school, I enjoy talking to friendly strangers and bicycling around my neighborhood, two things that are easily obtainable when you live in a place like City Heights. Growing up, I was surrounded by unique individuals, immigrants and refugees, whose value as members of my community, I was used to ignoring. It wasn’t until college when I realized how important these individuals are and how much I can learn from them.
At the beginning of my first year of college I signed up to become an English-in-Action tutor. The task was fairly simple, all I had to do was meet twice a week with an International Student and help him/her practice their English conversation skills. About a month after I signed up, I was able to get in contact with a Chinese graduate student who was to be my tutee. Little did I know that she would become one of my closest friends. I remember the attitude I held as I walked over to the Price Center at UCSD for my first meeting with Vivian, my tutee. I was nervous, yet excited, but for all the wrong reasons. I was happy for myself. I was getting involved in school, adding more activities to my resume, and branching out by forming connections with GRADUATE students. But this changed within seconds of speaking to Vivian. After getting through the initial awkwardness of our first meeting, I became surprised with how easily I was finding a way to understand and communicate with her despite her broken English and my lack of experience in dealing with non-English speakers. Although Vivian's English improved greatly, I can assure you that after a year of meeting with her, I was the one who learned the most from our weekly gatherings. I learned what it’s like to step foot in a new country as a foreign student, it takes persistence to attend lectures taught by professors who speak a version of English that is almost impossible for native-speakers to understand. But most importantly, I learned from her that it takes true humility to overcome all obstacles.
These were my greatest takeaways and I keep them close to heart not only when I am at school, interacting with other International Students, but also as a member of the City Heights community which is known as the home of refugees and immigrants from around the world. My experience as an English tutor motivated me to become more involved in programs and organizations that help these groups of people. From helping young children at Rosa Parks Elementary with their English skills, to volunteering with International Students at UCSD, my experiences with immigrants and refugees fuels my desire to help out in my community.
Aside from my interest in embracing the diversity of my surroundings, I am also a happy coffee addict and a huge bookworm. Travel is life! I just got back from a study abroad program in beautiful Ecuador and am now planning my next adventure to Brazil! In terms of books, I am currently reading Garcia Marquez’ Cien Años de Soledad and, of course, I am reading this book while I sip on my second cup of coffee for the morning. Learning new languages is a passion of mine and I hope to teach English abroad once I graduate college. I always love myself some good chisme (usually served on the side with some coffee), and I love writing about my savage Latina-side. By the way, did I mention I write blogs that have a little bit of both of these? If you’re curious to read, stay tuned!