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Mentor Profile


mentor picture Ana Campos
Ana Campos
Associate Director, Office of Undergraduate Student Housing
University of Chicago
I was born in Japan because my Mexican father went there for a year and a half to study dentistry with my U.S. born mother who taught English at Kansai Gaidai University in Osaka. After two year stints each on the island of Guam... I was born in Japan because my Mexican father went there for a year and a half to study dentistry with my U.S. born mother who taught English at Kansai Gaidai University in Osaka. After two year stints each on the island of Guam and in Guadalajara, Mexico, we moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin when I was five where my family has lived since. Growing up in Milwaukee I never thought of myself as a minority. If anything, the fact that I could speak Spanish with my family (my father only spoke Spanish to me as I grew up, my mother only English) was considered "cool" by people I met and my friends. Growing up I attended an elementary school where French was taught from kindergarten through eighth grade. I always assumed I would study languages. In high school I continued this interest by studying both French and Spanish. I always knew that I wanted to study abroad in both a French speaking and Spanish speaking country in college. The spring semester of my sophomore year in college I studied abroad in Toulon, France and the spring semester of my junior year I studied abroad in Valladolid, Spain. I received my B.A. with majors in Spanish and French and a minor in Public Relations from the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire, and my Masters in Educational Administration for Postsecondary Education from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln.


  1. I did not have concerns about racism while studying abroad. In my life I have not experienced overt racism based only on my appearance. I believe one reason may be because I am fair-skinned (my father's heritage is European [Spanish and Italian] rather than indigenous Indian in Mexico), so my ethnicity and heritage are not immediately obvious to others who have pre-conceived notions about how a Hispanic person "should" look. I did not experience any racism while in France due to being a Hispanic woman. And, in Spain, I was considered more of a novelty because the Spanish I spoke was "Mexican" Spanish which the Spaniards considered to sound "sing-song" like.
    6 answers – Racism
  2. I always knew that I wanted to study abroad in a Spanish speaking country. Growing up, my father talked about Spain and the Castilian Spanish and his desire that I be exposed to it. While it was not the driving decision for my attending this particular program (I did not want to go to Mexico as I had been many, many times), it certainly was an intriguing factor. My father had told me that some of my ancestors were from Salamanca, Spain, so I certainly was interested in going to Salamanca to be able to say that I had been there.
    3 answers – Deciding On A Program – Racism
  3. The importance and influence of their family, not just parents but extended family, cannot be understated or ignored. If their parents are telling them that they cannot study abroad for whatever reason, this is very real to the student and to tell them that they should do what they want, regardless of what their parents want for them, does not take into account the family's influence on them. In some cultures, respecting your elders is paramount. I also think that having a Q&A with students from underrepresented backgrounds would also be a good idea so that students who are considering going see others like themselves having successfully studied abroad and can ask questions that are most important to them.
    9 answers – For African Americans – For Asian/ Pacific Americans – For Hispanic/ Latin@ – For Native Americans
  4. I think one important thing to remember is that in other countries, their societal issues are not necessarily the same as ours. For instance, in some European countries the people of African heritage do not experience the same problems as the people of Middle Eastern heritage (this was long before 9/11/2001). I think that issues of class are more the issue in other countries, rather than purely about one's ethnicity or heritage.
    1 answers – Racism – Safety Issues
  5. I think the biggest issue here is to make sure that other factors - family and cost - are addressed first and extensively. Some families may have to be convinced that this experience will be beneficial for their child. The ways to afford studying abroad should be discussed openly and extensively. The "critical mass" concept is important with any underrepresented group. The more that do it, that more that will. One suggestion is to create a group of students who have studied abroad whose purpose it is to attend underrepresented student organization meetings to talk directly to them about the reasons why study abroad is beneficial. Reaching out directly to them may help bridge the divide if they are not showing up on their own to informational meetings.
    5 answers – For African Americans – For Asian/ Pacific Americans – For Hispanic/ Latin@ – For Native Americans
  6. Pienso que es importante recordarte que en otros países, los temas que preocupan a la gente de la sociedad son diferentes a los nuestros. Por ejemplo, en unos países europeos la gente de origen africano no experimenta los mismos prejuicios que la gente de patrimonio del medio oriente (tomando en cuenta que esto fue antes del 11 de septiembre de 2001). Pienso que la gente en otros países se preocupa más de temas tocante a las clases sociales que de la gente de otros países con etnicidad u origen distinto.
    1 respuestas – Asuntos relacionados con la seguridad
  7. I think the easiest way to do so is to be open to everything about it, to not judge it, and to not compare it with what you are accustomed to. Whatever the traditions, customs, and social mores of the people that you are now living with, you are best off observing them, and incorporating those that you are able to in your every day interactions as soon as possible, rather than complaining about them or resisting them. For instance, if you are a woman visiting a country where women are subservient and do not look men in the eye. As much as that may feel “wrong” or just plain difficult to do for some from the western tradition, your transition into the culture will be smoother and you will gain more from the experience if you can do it out of respect for their culture and ways, rather than feeling like you are somehow compromising your own belief system. Look at it from their perspective - their lens - not your own. Exerting this extra energy to learn and observe can result in culture shock. I think the best way to handle those feelings is to spend some time with your fellow compatriots, if there are some available and it is possible, from time to time so that you are not always feeling like the odd one out in the beginning. Spending time with people where you do not have to exert the extra energy to remember what are new traditions and ways of behaving will re-energize you.
    4 answers – While Abroad – Culture
  8. I found the best ways to do this were to meet other students in the Universities that I attended, and to do what the locals do – which in my case meant spending the afternoons in various bars/cafes socializing and talking, and then going out dancing in the evenings. In addition, I also advertised that I would like to be a Language Buddy so that I could practice my foreign language with a local, and they could practice English with me. We would speak for 30 minutes in one language, and then 30 minutes in the other. This way I made new local friends, and was introduced to their circle of friends as well. Lastly, I spent a lot of time with my host families and tried to attend any of the familial activities to which I was invited. Meeting their extended family and friends always provided additional opportunities to learn about the culture of the country I was in, and make stronger connections with my host family.
    4 answers – While Abroad – Culture
  9. I think one of the best ways that I found helped my friends who were homesick (I never was), was to remind them that this visit was temporary. That this was a once in a lifetime opportunity/experience, so we needed to just put ourselves out there and enjoy it as much as possible. If they were having a hard time, I’d ask them what they did enjoy/like about the experience thus far – however minor – and use that as the starting point. I also found that if they spent all their time thinking about their significant other and/or family back home – and constantly writing to them or calling them – that it was all the harder to help them to connect. Ultimately, people have to make up their own mind about the situation that they are in – to make the most of it – or to be sad. I would do what I could to continually invite them to do things with me and others from our group or local friends we had made so that they didn’t just sit in their bedroom missing home. Now, 20 years later, the two friends that I had who were quite homesick while we were abroad, have both been married for many years to that significant other that they missed so much while we were abroad, and both, ultimately, have fond memories of their time abroad.
    3 answers – Health – While Abroad – Culture
  10. I think the most important thing to do is to try to find someone in authority who can assist you – e.g. a police officer or someone who has some ability to assist you in your specific situation. For example, I was in a train station, and a man kept aggressively giving me unwanted attention. I had to be in that train station for something like 12 hours waiting for my next train. I had tried to find the station police, but could not. I could see that the ticket agent was noticing my situation, and after several times of my rebuking this man, he called me to him and offered that I could sit in the area behind the ticket window with him, waiting for my train so that the man could no longer approach me. He then also called the station police to have them tell the man to leave me alone. That ticket agent was an angel! I spent the next 12 hours waiting for my train behind the ticket window in peace.
    1 answers – Safety Issues – While Abroad
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