Hello! My name is Helena, and since this is my first post here, I figured I should introduce myself. I am an international student from Brazil, and I am currently in my second year at Hillsborough Community College (HCC) in Tampa, Florida.
International student community
My schedule is very packed, in every way you can think of. I am the president of the International Students Ambassadors Club, and that's by far my favorite title here. As International Student Ambassador (ISA), we are responsible for bringing international students together and making them feel like HCC is their second home.
The majority of my friends are international students from literally all over the world: Japan, Sweden, Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil (of course), France, Germany, Ecuador, and so much more. They even joke that the club is basically our whole friend group, but we really can't help becoming closer to people from different countries.
My favorite event from the ISA club so far has been the International Festival that we organized in spring 2023. It was on the last day of classes, right before summer, and we had tables from all continents. Each table was filled with snacks, drinks, giveaways, games, and questions from all the different countries. It was such a fun time! We had a table for Brazil with guaraná soda, bis wafers, and so many other Brazilian snacks.
Our Brazilian/Venezuelan friend had a game near the Latin America table where you could challenge her on soccer kick-ups to win a new soccer ball, but she went the whole day undefeated (probably since she was part of the Venezuelan national soccer team!).
At our Japanese table, we had a game to pick up Hello Kitty croc charms with chopsticks. If you were able to move them all to a different plate in the set time, you could win one of the croc charms.
My favorite part of the fair was the temporary tattoos with different flags, country names, etc. By the end of the day, all the students had their country’s colors on their faces. We also had an “ISA passport” (a paper that we made that actually looked like a passport) that you used to go all over the "world" (our campus quad). All the tables had their own stamp with the country's landmark, and when the passport was completed, you could exchange it for a sandwich.
More clubs & activities
I am also a student in the Honors Program, and the Vice-President of the Honors Club. I really like the community of the Honors Program. We create some fun events for the honors students, and we also contribute to the Keeping Tampa Bay Beautiful initiative. It is a very nice community, and our work there is also exciting.
On top of all of that, I am also a senator of the Student Government Association, and the chair of my sub-committee. We are responsible for Athletic Involvement, focusing on college spirit and trying to bring more students to the athletic games. We have decided to plan some "Tailgates" for some games during the semester with music, food, giveaways, games, and a lot of school spirit like painting the school colors on the students faces and having everyone cheering for our athletes. I have been attending the volleyball games since my first semester because I am friends with some girls on the team, but there are many students who have not been to an HCC athletic game yet, so we want to bring more people to enjoy this as well.
I love to be involved on campus, and living on campus also gives me more flexibility to attend the events that fill my days. My friends and I like to attend all of the events because there are usually prizes, and we enjoy being together and trying new things.
So far, the experience has exceeded all my expectations, and I am definitely not ready to say “Bye!” to HCC when I graduate next year.
Helena Pamplona Ardigó from Brazil is studying at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Florida.
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