Pursuing a Global Perspective
Cerritos College History Student Jasmin Gonzalez Spends a Semester in New Zealand
For Immediate Release:September 14, 2007
Media Contact:Allison Abel, Public Affairs; (562) 860-2451, ext. 7878
NORWALK, CA -- September 14, 2007 -- When Jasmin Gonzalez started school last month, it wasn’t just a new circle of friends, new school and new teachers she had to get used to; she also had to adjust to life in a new country more than halfway around the globe.
Gonzalez, a 20-year-old history major from Norwalk, is the first exchange student from Cerritos College to study at International Pacific College in Palmerston North, New Zealand.
“It’s going to be a completely different experience,” she said in an interview conducted the week before her departure. “I don’t plan to think about L.A., my home or my friends. My goal is to absorb their culture.”
Having an interest in international relations in addition to her history major, Gonzalez could hardly ask for a better supplement to her education than to study overseas.
And as colleges go, IPC happens to be a prime institution for cross-cultural interaction, according to Nick Kremer, executive dean of Cerritos College’s Community, Industry and Technology Education division. Kremer, Cerritos College’s chief link with IPC, was a key player in negotiating an exchange agreement with the college several years ago.
“IPC is an excellent place to immerse one’s self in other cultures,” he said. “The college draws students from Japan, Malaysia, China and Indonesia, among other countries. And with her interest in international relations, Jasmin is a perfect fit for this opportunity.”
While Gonzalez is considered a minority in the United States, she’s grown up surrounded by others who share her Hispanic heritage. But she knew that once in New Zealand, being a minority would take on a whole new meaning. Fortunately, Gonzalez isn’t a stranger to being friends with those of other cultures. In the past, she’s served as vice-president and secretary of Cerritos College’s International Student Association, building friendships that transcend racial and ethnic differences.
“ISA and all its members and staff are a second family to me,” she said. “Through ISA, I have gained friendships I will always cherish and will always work hard to keep. Even though all of us come from either different cultures or different parts of the world, we all get along and understand each other perfectly.”
Danita Kurtz, coordinator of International Student Services at Cerritos College, knows well the benefits of international study.
"The experience Jasmin is getting for herself and her future career is wonderful,” said Kurtz. “Studying abroad is an experience unlike any other. It exposes students to new cultures, opportunities and experiences.”
Gonzalez found in Kurtz, as well as Kremer, enthusiastic support as she prepared to study abroad. “Both of them pushed and pushed to get me as much scholarship money, help and information as they could,” she said.
Gonzalez originally learned of IPC through one of her instructors, history professor Dr. John Haas. Haas leads a program at Cerritos College called the Global Consortium, that gives students the opportunity to participate in teleconferences with students from other colleges and universities all over the world—one of them being IPC, where Haas has guest lectured.
“I have been involved in almost all the teleconferences Dr. Haas has done,” said Gonzalez. “The conferences are absolutely necessary, in my opinion. They not only connect many different parts of the world, but also allow us to hear others’ opinions and interact with them.”
Gonzalez also appreciates that the teleconferences have helped her see that “other parts of the world are interested in things that are happening here in the U.S., and vice versa.”
While Gonzalez thoroughly enjoyed the teleconferences, she knew that interacting with people in far-flung parts of the world and building cross-cultural understanding would take on a whole new dimension if it were face-to-face. So when Gonzalez heard of IPC, she wasn’t about to let the opportunity pass her by.
“I’m really excited about being surrounded by people from different cultures and different parts of the world,” she said.
One senses that for this outgoing 20-year-old, a semester in New Zealand is only the beginning.
Cerritos College serves as a comprehensive community college for southeastern Los Angeles County. Communities within the college's district include Artesia, Bellflower, Cerritos, Downey, Hawaiian Gardens, La Mirada, Norwalk, and portions of Bell Gardens, Lakewood, Long Beach, Santa Fe Springs and South Gate. Cerritos College offers degrees and certificates in more than 180 areas of study in nine divisions. Annually, more than 1,200 students successfully complete their course of studies, and enrollment currently averages nearly 20,000 students. Visit Cerritos College online at http://www.cerritos.edu/