Christmas break for Taylor’s international students will bring experiences as diverse as the places they call home.
Christmas break is one of the most anticipated times of the year for Taylor students to see friends and family. Despite the excitement, for students whose homes are in crisis, it is also a difficult dynamic to navigate.
For senior Andrea Leon, watching the plight of her Venezuelan friends and family has been difficult. When she was in Valencia, Venezuela this past summer, Leon noticed how her home country continues to deteriorate. Thankfully, many of Leon’s friends and family were able to leave.
“Home in my heart is Venezuela, but my family just moved to Spain in the summer,” Leon said. “So I think that's my second home right now.”
For Christmas break, Leon will visit her family in Madrid, Spain for six weeks. She plans to explore the city and travel to London for a few days to visit a friend from high school.
Like Leon, junior Joaquin Hansen has been away from his home, Chile, amidst the most recent chain of protests against the government. Despite Chile’s seemingly healthy exterior, the current conflict reveals this is a thin veneer.
The internal issues of corruption and deception were hidden for 30 years, Hansen said. Now, they finally are coming to light. Hansen believes that people are affected directly and indirectly.
Those affected directly are protesting on the streets and getting shot by police, blinded by pellet guns, tortured and harassed.
“And then there’s the people who (are) affected indirectly, which is my family because it forms insecurity,” Hansend said. “So my mom has this small company, and she depends on the sales day by day.”
Unable to work for three weeks, Hansen’s family was hit by the conflict. Despite the intense events, he believes things will get better by Christmas.
Hansen will be in Santiago, Chile seeing his family and friends. One of the things he is looking forward to most is seeing his many pets. His family has four cats and three dogs.
“I really want to be with my cats and dogs,” Hansen said. “My family loves them. We love to pick up animals.”
Senior Chin Yi Oh will go home during Christmas break. For Oh, home is Ipoh, Malaysia where she will reunite with her family after a year and a half of not seeing them.
During the seven weeks in Ipoh, Oh plans to celebrate the Chinese New Year, eat a lot of good food and enjoy time with friends and family.
The Chinese New Year is a beautiful time of intergenerational relationships between grandparents, grandchildren, cousins and friends of all ages.
“Kids usually get blessings in the form of a red packet, (usually containing) money,” Oh said. “It's a form of blessings when elders give the younger generation blessings.”
Junior Christen Jacquottet also looks forward to seeing his family. He grew up in Normandy, France, a small village of about 100 people in the French countryside.
Instead of returning to France, Jacquottet will meet his family in Cuba where they hope to see vintage cars and city-life over the course of 10 days.
“(I look forward to) just experiencing the culture,” Jacquottet said. “(Cuba) seems like such a mysterious place. I have seen a few documentaries, but I don't know much really, I don't know what to expect.”
Scattered around the world, Taylor’s international students will enjoy special times with those they love most.