Ashley Amparano is an international student from Mexico and a transfer student from Pacific Union College. She has not only gone through challenges, but also many successes throughout her journey.
Ashley Amparano, sophomore nursing major here at Walla Walla University, came to the United States first as a high school sophomore aged fifteen when she attended Milo Adventist Academy in Oregon. After graduating from Milo, she attended Pacific Union College in California for her first year of college. After one year at PUC, Amparano transferred here to WWU’s nursing program where she is currently studying.
Amparano has moved many times in the United States since being here. It is not easy to move for anyone, but it can be especially difficult to move when you are in a different country than your home. However, since Amparano has moved so much in recent years, she has learned how to move with more confidence and courage. Not just in traveling, but in life experiences too.
She said of why she chose to come to WWU, “I heard the nursing program was good here and I prayed about it, and I felt like God told me that he wanted me to stay in an Adventist University. Every step of the way of the application process it was just yes-yes-yes, and I got accepted at the nursing program and into the school.” 
Being accepted into social groups can be a challenge for both transfer and international students. Amparano said, “I feel like it’s harder because I’m transfer student, everyone already has their friend group[s] and then I come and it’s just, ‘Hi, what’s up?’ It’s been a little hard to be here [in the US] and to know everyone and get used to the school and just people here. But I’m used to it because I’ve been here a long time. It happened when I went to high school, it happened when I went to PUC.” 
Amparano’s close friend, SamanthaLee Perez, a junior theology major, remarked:
I know that Ashley’s had to already adapt to many different environment changes, so it’s amazing to see her give Walla Walla a chance. She’s willing to try every day, she’s willing to smile every day, and she’s willing to be involved and be there for people even though she needs people to be there for her. I’ve seen her in her homesickness, but she still helps me feel at home when I feel the same way. I’m transitioning as well as a transfer student, I’m not used to this, and she’s used to the changes and used to being away from her family so she’s taught me some things as well about moving. And it’s good to have another Latina. Another Mexican Latina as well, to help me feel at home even when we miss the rice and beans. We can still hang out and joke together. 
An article written by Mireya Nadal-Vicens, M.D., Ph.D. and Gene Beresin on International College Students stated, “One of the most profound problems for international students is homesickness. This is compounded by academic, social, cultural, and financial pressures – all potentially resulting in excessive stress, anxiety, and depression.” 
Amparano further recalled what she missed from home,
[I miss] my family and my mom. My mom and I are super close, and I am an only child, so I guess that’s why I am really close with my mom. And with my family too. Also, [I miss] the food. Growing up my mom didn’t work in our town, she had to drive away one hour to where her work was, so, I was raised by my grandma you could say; she would take me to my school and she would pick me up, then she would cook food for me, but my mom would get back from work super late. So, I miss my grandma’s cooking. 
One of the favorite foods her grandma would make is the traditional Mexican meal, “mole” (pronounced MOH-lay). Amparano said, “It’s with chicken and rice. It’s pretty good.”  It’s a food that invokes nostalgia for home and family.
Amparano also misses her friends back at home in Mexico: “Friends from back home, I really miss them. I’m the only one that is in the United States, everyone [else] is back home so I miss them.” 
A simple solution to missing people is to call them. Amparano said, “If I miss my mom, I will call her or facetime her.”  Fortunately, her mom is in the same time zone. Many other international students have the extra challenge of communicating with family in different time zones.
Writer Heidi Paxson wrote, “True, in college you are on your own, but you do not have to be alone. Your family is still a part of your life even if they are not physically there. They want to support you, share your ups and downs, and keep you connected to home.” 
Amparano lived in Mexico for fifteen years.
She recalled her time in Mexico, “It was like a normal life. My family is there, my friends are there, [and] I went to a private Adventist school. You go to school and after that you go to music lessons, and then you eat together with your family, and on Sundays I would go to my grandma’s house, and we would all eat together.” 
Amparano expressed this humbly. Amparano’s remarks on home show that she had peace, love, and care at home. That is not to say there were not challenges at home, but that ultimately the environment was peaceful.
In contrast to peace, when asked about current affairs in her home country while being here in America, she said, “Where I lived before, it was a very peaceful town. It was very rare if you heard about drug dealers or gangsters. [However] in Mexico now a problem is feminicidios, homicides of women.” 
Writer Olivia Adams from visionofhumanity.org reported, “The incidence of femicide, or the murder of a woman for gender-based reasons, has risen significantly in recent years [in Mexico], from 427 reported victims in 2015 to 1,004 in 2021, marking a 135 per cent increase.”  This is a current issue in Mexico. Sadly, these statistics represent the violence that is being committed more frequently against women in Mexico.
As Amparano’s family is in Mexico, this worry of femicide or even violence being committed becomes more present in her mind. However, as Amparano mentioned, where she lived was peaceful.
Her hometown is about two hours away from the San Diego border in California and only fifteen minutes away from the beach. One of Amparano’s most beloved activities to do there is going to the beach.
She said, “I live close to the beach. I love it. I love the beach.”  Smiling and chuckling, she emphasized her love for the atmosphere of the beach. She remembered fondly the warmth of the sand, the crashing sound of waves, sunsets on the beach, and family and friends to share it with. 
Something unique about Amparano is that she plays the violin very well. During the first quarter she played violin for the University Orchestra and now plays for Nuestra Iglesia or other churches on Saturday mornings to provide praise music in church. If you go to Nuestra Iglesia, it’s likely you’ll see Amparano contributing her time and love for music.
Lastly, we learn valuable advice from the relationship that has meant and means the most to Amparano, the relationship with her mom. Amparano’s mom frequently told her: “Servir a los demás.” As translated by Amparano, “She would always tell me, that’s why we’re here: to serve others.”