​From the United States to Japan

How Latinos Achieve Studying without Borders

Daniel Zarate 

Original Article: La Opiniόn, January 29, 2016.

(Translation Credit: Letty Kilian)

Daniel Zarate practices his fast pace learning of a difficult language that can take up to 12 years to master. “I understand Japanese,” he writes on a chalkboard.

This International Business student at Santa Monica College has been preparing himself to reach a goal that seemed impossible: to continue his education in Japan.

Zarate, age 20, will begin his studies at Temple University, Tokyo where he will be for the next two years. “When my parents arrived, their experience was that everything was new. I want the same. I thought to myself: Why not go and study in another country?” said the son of a Salvadorian single mother who is a truck driver.

More and more, Hispanic students see beyond the borders of the United States to prepare as professionals, but abroad, this number is not proportional to the one recorded in national institutes. According to the Institute of International Education, Latinos made up 8.3% of American students in other countries in the 2013-14 academic year. However, they make up 16% in domestic schools.

Whites, in contrast, accounted for more than three-quarters of students abroad.

One of the main barriers would be the cost of living and studying far from home. An overwhelming majority choose four European countries: England, Italy, Spain, and France.

The most notable example of Latino students in Europe is Nohemi Gonzalez, who was killed in November by terrorists in Paris, France. She was studying industrial design as part of an international program at California State University Long Beach. Gonzalez’s adventurous spirit took her to Europe as she followed her dream born in the streets of El Monte.

Zarate’s dream was born in the city of South Gate, where many only aspire to graduate from high school and find employment less arduous than their immigrant parents.

“They came so that their children would have a better education and I see that no one from my family is following that goal. I feel that I am the only one that can do it,” said Zarate.

In his role as a student leader, Zarate asks other young people to think big.

“Once a student asked me, ‘Where are you going,’ I said Japan. And I asked him, ‘Where do you want to go?’ and he answered ‘Florida’. I told him ‘Don’t limit yourself, Florida is in this country, why don’t you go to another country?’ After that, he told me that he was thinking of going abroad,” said Zarate.

For “dreamers,” young people who benefit from Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), there are now opportunities to study in their homeland. The CSULB California-Mexico Studies Center, in collaboration with several universities, offer four programs that will allow more than 100 “dreamers” to study in Mexico this summer.

Useful International Training

While Americans more than ever, receive career training in other countries, the number of foreigners in universities in the United States grew to more than 70% in the last 14 years. Most come from China.

According to the National Association of Foreign Student Advisers (NAFSA), vocational training in other parts of the world is essential to an increasingly globalized economy.

“A recent survey showed that almost 40% of companies surveyed, lost international business opportunities due to lack of trained personnel,” said the organization.

Zarate has set another goal for himself once he is in Japan: to be part of the organizing committee of the 2020 Olympics which will be held in Tokyo. “I want to be a world leader: he says.”

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