Brenda Salas Neves
Born: Arequipa, Peru
Lived in: Peru, Germany, Hong Kong and USA
Brenda was born and grew up in Arequipa, Peru’s second largest city. She is from a small family–her parents and an older brother–but she is also close to her extended family of uncles, aunts, and cousins. “Both my grandmothers live in my city and I always spent weekends with them and with my aunts, uncles and cousins. Every weekend was like a reunion and party, ” Brenda remembers.
Brenda was in high school when she saw an article in the local newspaper about scholarships for studying abroad. “I was surprised because I met all of the qualifications that were listed,” says Brenda. “I started reading about United World Colleges on the website mentioned in the paper. I liked the idea of studying abroad and decided to apply.”
After several weekend selection retreats and an intense interview with a panel of eight, including US Embassy personnel, Brenda was accepted to the UWC program. “I was selected to go to Li Po Chun United World College in Hong Kong. At first my Dad wasn’t sure he was going to let me go. He thought it was too far away and too different from Peru,” Brenda recalls. “But, he relented and away I went.”
Brenda loved Li Po Chun United World College and Hong Kong. “That is the best two years of my life so far. I gained so much–a new world view and a new philosophy. ” While at Li Po Chun UWC, Brenda began thinking about going to university. She spoke with Steve Udy, her high school counselor. He told Brenda to take a look at Lewis & Clark College. She liked what she found on the website and she met an alumna of the College who was living in Hong Kong. “She was super nice and very interesting. After talking with her, I felt that Lewis & Clark had everything I was looking for–a setting in a fairly large city, the opportunity to be involved in theater, and a very international focus.”
Brenda arrived at Lewis & Clark in the fall of 2005. “I have to admit that the first year was hard for me,” says Brenda. Studies were more difficult and took much more time that I expected. We had quite a few essays at Li Po Chun UWC, but it was nothing like the number of essays and papers I had to do at Lewis & Clark.”
Brenda is now a junior and feels very much “at home” at Lewis & Clark. She is a very good student and has quite a record of involvement. She has served as chairperson for Latin America at the annual international fair. She has worked as a Spanish language tutor for L&C students and as a grader for one of the Spanish language faculty members. She has volunteered at the COOP, an on-campus coffee house run by Lewis & Clark students. She has participated on the women’s crew team. And, she has been able to fulfill one of her interests–acting–by taking an acting classes. Even with all these activities,
Brenda hopes to travel to China this year on a Lewis & Clark overseas program. She is studying Chinese in preparation–something she did not get to do while living in Hong Kong. “I had the chance to travel around China when I lived in Hong Kong. I am fascinated by Chinese culture, history and art and I the L&C program would be a wonderful opportunity for me to deepen my knowledge of this exciting country.”
Brenda is still thinking about her career options at this point in time. “I’m not sure what I plan to do after graduation. I may want to travel a bit. I might want to go to graduate school.” In the meantime, Brenda plans to volunteer at a local home for troubled Latino youths and their families. “I have to get involved in order to change things”, she reminds us!