Guilty for Putting the ‘Fun’ in Funds

(This blog is for a scholarship through Generation Study Abroad - not my usual content but I’ll try to make it appealing. Also, need to write all of my thoughts in less than 500 words. I’ll try my best to keep it short.)


My beautiful mother and I

I never thought we’d ever afford the silly things we wanted as kids. Momma Lim made sure our fridge and stomachs were full, but it came with a price. As a single parent, money was always tight, my siblings never got the things we wanted. Retrospectively, I’m glad she never spoiled us with silly material things. When the time came for me to start thinking of Universities to go to, in almost every conversation we had, she told me that I needed to apply for outside funding. She was clear in telling me that she had no funds to support my education. When I discovered the power of scholarships, my life was changed.


Of course, there aren’t scholarships that are toward shopping sprees, (though that’d be nice) the scholarships I received were used toward holistic investments. Because of the Act Six program, I’ve been able to go to Bethel. Through Act Six, connections and relationships have helped me see the world beyond the walls of my own narrative.

Friendship!

Going to a predominantly white institution was a huge culture shock for me. All the schools I’ve ever attended were very diverse, diversity was all I knew. Systematic oppression, white favoritism, and white fragility were all terms I’ve learned during my time at Bethel being a conscious womyn of color. I knew immediately, I didn’t belong at Bethel, through Act Six, I found my community.

We still struggle to survive at Bethel but regardless, we’re together. Striving to dismantle the racial oppression we face on our campus, we link arms and advocate for each other. Studying Environmental Studies and Reconciliation Studies at Bethel, I’ve been able to clearly see the issues of colonization, patriarchy, and the institutionalized church. Finding a study abroad program that fits with all of my interests was a challenge.

Summer Internship with the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program in the Pacific Northwest

I’ve chosen to study abroad with HECUA because they aim to acknowledge oppression and social justice. The same way my friends and I create community, HECUA’s close-knit organization fosters language and an environment for growth. The New Zealand program explores the ways culture and the environment share a relationship. The program aligns almost perfectly with my interests in environmental conservation as well as exploring liberation for oppressed communities. Understanding these cultural contexts in terms of advocating for the environment, is an aspect that I wish to continue outside of my experience in New Zealand.

As a potential advocate for this scholarship, I hope to encourage young people to not give up in seeking financial help. The message that I want to bring to youth is that their struggle in finding financial funds for their dreams is worth the hard work. The goals I have to study abroad is larger than gaining research or career experience. As a potential scholar, motivating youth to see a future beyond the walls of their current narrative, is what I hope to do. To be the voice I needed to hear as a young person, the voice that tells them that though their circumstances might not allow for it now, they too can travel abroad one day.


About the Author:

Maricella is notorious for planning potential future careers. She plans to one day be a youth developer, environmental conservationist, a marriage and family therapist, and an executive director of a non-profit. Keep up with her monthly blogs at Mari Xiong to keep up with her next move. With her free time, Mari writes life lessons in bullet form.