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YES Abroad Alumni Spotlight: Giana Marie Scattini
By Giana Marie Scattini, YES Abroad 2018-2019, Philippines
What are some of your biggest accomplishments since becoming an alum of the YES Abroad program?
I just graduated with an international bachelor's degree from the University of Bologna in Forli, Italy where I also did an Erasmus (study abroad semester) in Argentina taught entirely in Spanish.
I am now working at an international language school in downtown San Diego.
I have inspired others to travel and learn about other cultures and I am in the process of creating a website/non-profit that helps under represented individuals and people from lower socio-economic backgrounds find opportunities to help them achieve their dreams abroad.
What are some of your favorite memories from the YES Abroad program?
Like many other YES alumni, I could go on and on about my experiences and memories from my year abroad. Here are a few that stand out to me:
- Host mom woke me up at 4am to be on a Filipino game show
- Participating in local traditions and ceremonies (weddings, the family party in the cemetery to honor the dead, anniversaries, birthday parties, debuts, etc.)
- Host family took me to their farm and showed me how their business operates (they grew a special kind of nut that was used to make a essential oils)
- Trying local street foods with host family and local friends and also learning how to make local dishes and pastries
- Participating in my classmates dance performance for school (making costumes, going to rehearsals, etc.)
- Taking public transportation for the first time and impressing locals with my language skills
What are some of the ways you’ve stayed connected to fellow alumni since your exchange experience? What about your host family or friends that you met abroad?
My cohort and I have remained very close. Just about every year since the Philippines we meet up in a new country and hang out for a couple weeks. We use our group chat every single day and we're each others' best friends. We have plans to move in together within the next few years.
Although I did not have the most positive host family experience, I know my cohort still stays connected with their host families and one of them was even invited to attend their host sisters' wedding.
And finally, of course, I still follow almost all of my classmates on social media and message them periodically.
How did the YES Abroad program impact you professionally? What about personally?
YES Abroad influenced me to obtain a university degree in a foreign country, study abroad from my foreign university to another country, travel on my own, and now work in an international environment.
YES Abroad has positively impacted my personal and professional life and I honestly do not know who or where I would be if I hadn't participated in the program.
What is one piece of advice you would give to current or future YES Abroad program participants?
I remember when I was on program, my cohort and I tried to reach out to the alumni from the year before us and we were kind of disappointed with their responses to our questions.
Now that I have completed the program, I would probably respond the same way they did because a huge portion of the program is trying to figure things out for yourself.
So, go with the flow, say YES, be safe, and don't be afraid to look stupid.
If you can get through a YES Abroad program, you will be able to do and accomplish absolutely anything you want afterwards.
In 10, 20, or even 30 years, what do you hope the legacy of the YES Abroad program will be?
I hope that YES continues to grow and expand. It is a program that sounds too good to be true and I wish more students knew about it. I hope as the current alumni get older and have kids, that their kids will want to participate in the program as well and create generational cultural awareness.