Mak­ing changes in­ter­na­tion­ally

The Covington News - - THE SECOND FRONT - NI­COLE GOETZ news@cov­

Julie-Marie Dalbello looks like a typ­i­cal Amer­i­can stu­dent. She has blonde hair and blue eyes, but looks can be de­ceiv­ing. Dalbello’s south­ern Cal­i­for­nia girl looks are ac­tu­ally from South Amer­ica and she has a charm­ing Span­ish ac­cent and a fas­ci­na­tion for pol­i­tics.

While Dalbello’s fam­ily is orig­i­nally from Brazil, her par­ents made the move to the U.S. “You can say that they lived out the Amer­i­can dream since they started from noth­ing but two suit cases in the U.S., but later at­tained higher ed­u­ca­tion and ev­ery­thing we could ask for,” Dalbello said.

When Dalbello was 9 years old, her par­ents de­cided to make back to South Amer­ica. Her par­ents sought to help out the im­pov­er­ished ar­eas and im­prove ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem in Ar­gentina. Dalbello grew up watch­ing as her par­ents self­lessly gave back and pushed to make the world a bet­ter place. She would quickly de­velop a pas­sion to serve and help peo­ple as well.

Life was dif­fi­cult in Ar­gentina. The ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem was not per­fect as the teach­ers were not paid well and would go on strike for three months out of the year; thus leav­ing the chil­dren un­pre­pared for the next grade. Chil­dren would be forced onto the next grade no mat­ter how much or how lit­tle they knew ac­cord­ing to Dalbello. Due to the Ar­gen­tine school sys­tem, Dalbello’s par­ents en­rolled her in a pri­vate Chris­tian school that was taught in half Span­ish and half English.

When it came time for Dalbello to ap­ply to col­leges, there was no doubt she would go to an Amer­i­can school. She heard about Emory Univer­sity from a friend, but soon there­after, stum­bled upon Ox­ford Col­lege.

The small com­mu­nity ap­pealed to her. She thought it would be a bet­ter fit for her as she was from a very tight Brazil­ian-cul­ture com­mu­nity.

Dalbello, now a sopho­more at Ox­ford Col­lege, soon learned her fresh­man year that the small and warm, close-knit com­mu­nity was per­fect for her tran­si­tion from the South Amer­i­can life­style to the Amer­i­can one.

Like all in­ter­na­tional stu­dents, Dalbello had her own view of what the United States would be like.

“I al­ways thought ev­ery­thing was huge. Huge roads, huge cars, huge “small” sized-coke drinks. And clean. Ev­ery­thing is shiny and clean. And that it had good clothes and lots of good food, though waste­ful.”

While the por­tion size of food was a cul­ture shock to Dalbello, the big­gest shock was the at­ti­tudes of Amer­i­cans.

“I thought peo­ple would be a lot colder than they are, but I’ve learned that they aren’t; it’s just they aren’t as touchy as South Amer­i­cans,” Dalbello said as she com­pared the per­son­al­i­ties of peo­ple be­tween the two cul­tures.

She, like many other in- ter­na­tional stu­dents, thought Amer­i­cans were self­ish, cold, and al­ways fo­cused on the next big thing, but the South­ern charm soon worked its charm on her.

“Ev­ery­one is really nice. I re­al­ized Amer­i­cans are some of the most help­ful peo­ple in the world. It sur­prised me that I like it here now. I was really hes­i­tant to leave Ar­gentina and move here, but now I have tons of friends and I grown to love the cul­ture.”

How­ever, ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the Amer­i­can cul­ture came at a price for the Dalbello fam­ily. Dalbello’s par­ents, who are also mis­sion­ar­ies, used their sav­ings and took out loans to send their daugh­ter to Ox­ford. They spec­u­late that it will only get fi­nan­cially worse as her younger sis­ter will soon look to the states for a col­lege ed­u­ca­tion as well.

Although the Dalbello sis­ters are both choos­ing to study in the United States, South Amer­ica will al­ways be home.

“In both Brazil and Ar­gentina, the peo­ple are al­ways happy. They are beau­ti­ful coun­tries.

I miss walking around ev­ery­where and walking a block to buy food. There’s a lot of poverty there. Life per­haps is harder, but peo­ple seem to be hap­pier.”

Af­ter Dalbello grad­u­ates with a ma­jor in in­ter­na­tional stud­ies, she hopes to work for a non-gov­ern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tion that works to im­prove ed­u­ca­tion sys­tems.

Cur­rently, Dalbello vol­un­teers fre­quently at the ele­men­tary schools help­ing the chil­dren with their stud­ies and she also serves as a stu­dent in­struc­tor for the In­tro­duc­tion to Po­lit­i­cal Sci­ence at Ox­ford. Al­ready Dalbello is out in the world try­ing to make that pos­i­tive im­pact that she learned from her par­ents.

Submitted photo /The Cov­ing­ton News

Julie-Marie Dalbello in Chile. Dalbello is orginally from Brazil, but grew up in Ar­gentina and cur­rently at­tends school at Ox­ford Univer­sity.

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