For some Simpson students, studying abroad means something other than traveling to far-off destinations like Germany, Tahiti or London.
For them, the far-off destination is Indianola, Iowa.
Alejandro Caballero, a 20-year-old junior, is an international student studying at Simpson. His home is Juarez, Mexico.
“I still miss homemade, spicy food,” he said, laughing. “It’s one of the biggest changes I faced here.”
On the other hand, there is snow. “I just love it,” he said. “I love winter. I tell students I’m making up for all the years I didn’t get snow in Mexico.”
While U.S.-born students have to adjust to new cultures during their May Term or Study Abroad experiences, the same is true for Alejandro and the other international students who find themselves in the middle of Iowa.
His journey to Simpson began as a youngster in Juarez. His sister, Elizabeth, received a scholarship to the Lydia Patterson Institute across the border in El Paso, Texas, by winning a writing contest sponsored by a local television station.
The institute is a private school founded in 1913 and supported by the United Methodist Church. Simpson has had a long-time relationship with the school, and Elizabeth was awarded a college scholarship. She graduated from Simpson in 2008 and now works for the U.S. consulate in Juarez.
“When it was time for me to go to high school, my mom thought my sister was getting a great education, and obviously she wanted the best for me, too,” Caballero said. “She decided that I would go to school in the United States.”
He was awarded a half-scholarship to Lydia Patterson, and spent his first two years completing the English as a Second Language program. He also worked every day after school, and officials rewarded his determination with a full scholarship.
“I continued working as hard as I could until I graduated,” he said. When he was offered a scholarship to attend Simpson, “it was one of the biggest days of my life.”
On campus, several professors “were really nice to me and helped me get through that first year. My second year, I had communications professors who were very encouraging about my photography.”
Alejandro is majoring in integrated marketing communications, and he has proven adept at photography. He hopes to eventually find a marketing job in the United States after graduation.