"Views and Values": Adriana Mendoza Leigh '12 from Peru

Adriana Mendoza and Hawina Bulcha at Ethiopian restaurant
Name: Adriana Mendoza Leigh
Major: History and Economics
Class: 2012
Citizenship: Peru

I heard about liberal arts colleges from my high school counselor. Williams stood out among the others for it had a need blind financial aid policy for international students at that time. Yet thinking back on my decision to come to Williams, I’m struck by how little I truly knew about the college. I’d never been to the United States before. I didn’t get the chance to visit the campus. But I’m glad that I didn’t think too much about it… I probably would’ve chickened if I had, given Williams’ rigorous intellectual environment.

I miss my family. Despite the fact that the friends I’ve met here are like family to me, there’s nothing like when I used to come back home from school to find my mum complaining about my mess! Here, you’re much more independent; you come back to your own room, your own space, but it’s an empty one. It doesn’t feel like a home as much, but that could be just due to my poor decorating skills!

I value the size of Williams the most! With it has come close relationships with my professors and an opportunity to let my voice be heard in class–and hear from the rest of my classmates in discussion. I also like how most students are enthusiastic about learning and passionate about their fields.

Life has changed, but I’m not sure I would say that the United States or Williams has changed me. I think one’s environment may propitiate a change, but it is ultimately upon the individual to decide the ways in which they change and grow. Being exposed to such a diversity of opinions has pushed me to question my own assumptions more deeply. It has increased my understanding and tolerance of different views. But, I think I’m still far from being as accepting of others’ values, as I would like to. I think the biggest thing I’ve learned at Williams is the importance of questioning myself and foregoing assumptions about others.

The first time I flew into the United States, the Sky Mall magazines on the airplane amused me. Not sure if this is exclusively American; I haven’t traveled much. However, they have the funniest things for sale! There is this Upside Down Tomato Garden… I’m just puzzled that people are willing to pay for it!