Keeping It Real with Camila

NAME: Camila Yeruti Maldonado Franco
HOMETOWN: San Lorenzo, Paraguay
PROGRAM: EducationUSA Academy

TCALC: What’s your favorite thing about your home country? 

CAMILA: I would say that the best thing about Paraguay is its people. They are kind and easygoing. Our hospitality is well known, and it makes us stand out. A plate of food and a bed would never be denied to any visitor.

TCALC: How did you decide to go to EducationUSA Academy at Temple, and when will you finish high school? 

CAMILA: I knew it was going to help me to learn more about the process of applying to US universities. In addition, Temple gave me a scholarship, which was crucial for me to attend the program. I just finished high school with honors this December. I am part of the 2019 prom. 

TCALC: What was your first impression of Philadelphia? What was the best thing you saw or did in the U.S.? 

CAMILA: Even though I had visited other states before, Philly was completely different. There was so much history to learn about in each building and street that gave me a better sense of North American culture. Also, in my country, there are not so many public libraries, so it was impressive for me to see all these places full of people with so many books accessible for everyone. 

TCALC: If I only had 24 hours to spend in Paraguay, what would you tell me to see or do?

CAMILA: First of all, to start the journey with a happy heart, I would recommend having some empanadas at LidoBar in downtown Asunción. They are the very best. Then, just a few blocks away you can find the Independence House, where we proclaimed our freedom (it still looks like the same as 200 years ago). Then you can chill a little bit in Aregua, which is just two hours from the capital, and get some souvenirs from the craftsmen. Whatever figure you can imagine, you will find it. Seriously, even a Marvel hero made of mud!

TCALC: What’s your favorite meal from Paraguay? 

CAMILA: It is called "Sopa Paraguaya"— a traditional dish. It is made of cornflour, eggs, cheese, and onions. It is called soup but actually, it is solid. The story behind it says that the cook of one of the ex-presidents had an accident while preparing another food, but ended up creating a delicious and unforgettable snack.

Unforgettable, indeed. 

TCALC: What’s the best thing you ate in the U.S.?

CAMILA: I had the chance to taste such a diverse menu in just five blocks around campus. I tasted a lot of hamburgers and french fries, but Five Guys was absolutely the best. Also, the cheesesteak was so yummy and the portion was huge! I could not even finish it!  

TCALC: What is your favorite memory from EducationUSA Academy this summer? 

CAMILA: Every night, after we finished our homework we always had some dynamics to just get to know each other a little bit more. One night we did a dance battle. It was the best thing ever - I laughed so hard that I could not even breathe! We accompanied this with some karaoke and a mix of different styles of music that made it unique. I will never forget our anthem: “The Middle” by Zedd. We literally learned it by heart! 

Camila loves a dance party!

TCALC: Can you talk about your inspiration for your winning Freely Magazine article?

CAMILA: Well, when I arrived I saw the contest and I signed up. Every night I wrote my memories from the day, so I just described how I felt and what I learned from my group. My classmates and the community at Temple from the woman in the entrance door, to the professors and coordinators - everyone inspired me to write about how an international student finds a place in there, even though they are far from home.

Camila with her essay contest prize and her classmate runners-up.

Read Camila’s contest-winning article here.

TCALC: What have you been up to since the program ended? 

CAMILA: I studied for international exams required to apply to US universities, started writing college application essays, turned eighteen, and kept working on my projects such as the Book Club that I founded at the beginning of the year. I am still finishing some applications and just received my first acceptance letter to Smith College!

The Big 1-8!

TCALC: What are your plans for college?

CAMILA: I would like to pursue an education major with a minor in creative writing or maybe psychology. I am applying to US universities because, thanks to the liberal arts system, I will be able to explore my interests and strengthen my abilities. During the program, I visited the College of Liberal Arts and learned a lot about the opportunities offered thanks to a meeting with a counselor that helps students to choose the best for them. 

TCALC: What’s something you learned from participating in a program with people from so many different countries? How do you feel the program prepared you for college-level courses?

CAMILA: I am serious when I say that I didn't even know some countries until I met my now-friends in the program. During our last days, we were just fantasizing about meeting again in some country which was so nice. I think it made me a more open-minded person and I got more sensitive about how every culture has its own traditions and the respect that each of them deserves. Thanks to the class, I improved my writing and speaking skills, but most importantly my critical thinking while doing research and debating. In my experience, this motivated me a lot to get more involved in what is going on around me. Thus, finding my own truth and answers. 

Eyes on the prize.

TCALC: What advice would you give to other students thinking about studying in the U.S.? 

CAMILA: Studying in the U.S. is an opportunity that absolutely should be taken if possible. It is immeasurable how this can make you into a new person. Believe me, you come back home and you are not the same anymore, you are better. You must be a brave person to leave your comfort zone, but the benefits and rewards are worth it. Just try it!