Friday, June 1, 2012

Fulfilling a Dream in China

Joanna Irizarry-Zaraza, Verrazano Class of 2013, is a Spring 2012 recipient of a Verrazano Study Abroad Scholarship to support her study abroad experience in China during the summer.  This is the first of three posts that Joanna will be contributing about her participation in the study abroad program.
Hello my fellow Verrazano students,
Joanna Irizarry
My name is Joanna Grace Irizarry-Zaraza, and I am 23 hours away from the beginning of my dream coming true - studying abroad in China. All I can hear is my heart thumping extremely quick and loud. I have mixed feelings at this point. As I said, I’m going to China after dreaming about stepping onto that land since my childhood years. I am also extremely sad because it is the first time I will be anywhere without my parents for more than 2 days and also because I am leaving my significant other of 5 ½ years; but I’m thrilled to see the cultural differences of China.  Chinese culture and language has always had a firm grasp on my curiosity.  Perhaps it’s the way the people greet each other or even their different tones of voice and body languages that makes me even more interested in their history.  My interest has led me to decide to minor in Chinese Studies, and I have gone through the process of applying for scholarships and trying to stabilize my emotions for this enrichment opportunity of a lifetime.
I am a high achiever and very ambitious, so I have tried to take advantage of every opportunity that comes in my direction. Throughout my college career, I have reached many significant milestones through skill and practice. I have had experience in mentoring and tutoring with “Strategies for Success” as part of the JCC Beacon program and SEEK program. I have worked with children with disabilities in the Staten Island Mental Health Society. In addition, I had a gratifying experience in accepting the 2009 Senoritas Del Futuro scholarship of $1000 from El Diario for my dedication as a Latina female and achievement in my academic status. I am a member of the Emerging Leaders Program, Chi Alpha Epsilon (XAE) National Honor Society, CSI Dean’s List, CSI SEEK Honors, and also a member of the CSI Swim Team. I have participated in The Model NYS Senate internship, and have been a tutor at the Center of Accessibility at CSI. I have never questioned any of these educational extra-curricular activities. Sadly, I have been attempting to finish my Study Abroad application since 2010, but I have prolonged this trip because of fear and financial dilemmas. I feel blessed, thanks to The Verrazano School and STOCS, for providing me support and a scholarship for me to study abroad and for making my dreams come true.
Studying abroad in China will be a magnificent learning experience that will enable me to reinforce my skills in being an active learner and give me the opportunity  to grow as I have always wished. I have had a profound connection to China’s history and its culture. I know for a fact that by me experiencing a summer in China, I will be developing my language skills by interacting with native speakers and will also understand more about China’s ancient culture. This will allow me to mature and encourage me to reach my full potential in my academic career. By living in China for a month I will get hands-on experience of the culture.  I will have the opportunity to analyze things such as the educational system and music.  With my experience in China, I will be able to learn what is appropriate or disrespectful in the Chinese culture. I hope to one day I will open my own clinic (since I am a psychology major) and consult in three different languages: English, Spanish, and Chinese.

I decided to study abroad in China with Brooklyn College. The reason I choose Brooklyn College is because the program consists of traveling all over China to sightsee and learn about the different environment in each city or area. I will have the honor of going to Beijing (China’s national capital), Xi’an (starting point of the ancient over-land Silk Road), Nanjing (China’s ancient capital), Suzhou (famous scenic city -exquisite gardens and water towns acclaimed), and Shanghai (China’s leading financial center).  I will also have the pleasure of going to Hong Kong, Yellow Mountain, and Yangzhou. I hope I get to experience all these different locations in China thoroughly because I’m extremely excited about traveling all throughout China, but I do fear that it might be rushed.  I hope not; I hope to soak in every second of this adventure!
I honestly hope that my experience will helpful fulfill my curiosity about and passion for Chinese culture.  I hope not to be too home sick and enjoy every event that I can. I know this is a life changing event and I am more prepared than ever. I just pray to get there and home safe and sound and that my family will be safe as well.

Wish me luck in my experience in China!


  1. Hello All,
    Hello Friends, China is one of the most important countries in the world and also one of the least understood. Been there, talking to people, and seeing how life is lived will help you understand China in a way that people who haven't been there never can. Learning Chinese you instantly add a very marketable skill as well as gain the ability to understand China more deeply than someone without the same linguistic talent. Thanks..
    Study In Shanghai

  2. Interesting picture and engineering examples. I would love to see them, especially the China Pavilion. visit this link