profiles of AMS students:
The Global Stride program
allows to apply their stipends toward
study-abroad costs or intensive language programs. As part
of the Global Stride scholarship, the fellows interviewed
and profiled international students in the college’s
graduate program in American Studies, to help familiarize
them with people who have made cultural transitions.
The Gate is publishing
their profiles in an occasional series.
By Lisa Wu
'16, Global Stride Fellow
GR, American Studies Diploma program
One of Joséphine’s favorite
activities is watching and thinking about movies.
her favorite films is The Hunger Games. Originally attracted
to the blockbuster movie, she then turned to the popular
book series under the same title, by Suzanne Collins, and
is now writing a thesis about the notions of fiction and
reality in The Hunger Games.
Learning the English language
has opened up new doors for Joséphine, whether she’s studying
The Hunger Games or other works of literature, or just meeting
“When you learn English, your perceptions change,” she notes. “Now, I can speak
to almost everybody in the world since so many people with different cultures
understand English. When I am watching [an American] movie now, I can truly understand
Joséphine is enjoying her experience in Smith’s American Studies Diploma program,
for the opportunities it affords to improve her English, delving into American
culture and gaining new insights about it.
“Language is the medium by which you get in touch with other people,” says Joséphine.
With language, people can understand one another and collaborate to find solutions
to major problems.
Before coming to the United
States, Joséphine had heard a
variety of stereotypes regarding American culture and people. “Americans are
brainwashed and always smiling and extravagant,” she says, one stereotype that
particularly struck her. Also, the misconception that all American food is unhealthy
and consists of “burgers and fries and milkshakes.
“People think I’ll become obese here,” she chuckles at her friends’ and family’s
concerns, “but I think I’ll become slim and fit. I’m not used to being as athletic
as I am now.”
She has undertaken new athletic
activities such as kayaking, canoeing, and Zumba while at
Smith, and she knows many other Smith students who use the
athletic facilities on campus. While Joséphine never believed the stereotypes she grew
up hearing, she actively disavows them now that she lives among Americans and
embraces her new life as a Smith student.
As she discovers new activities
and gains new friends here, her views of the world continue
to change. She believes that with knowledge of another language
she can become a global citizen, “caring
about what happens in other countries, and feeling responsible if your own country
doesn’t act to change or fix things like war and civil rights.”
For her, gaining knowledge about
the world is a vital step toward the future.