International student mothers accept challenge of new culture


Sevilay Kelek/SCC

Desfa Yusmalina studying in her English class on campus of SCC

Sevilay Kelek, Reporter/SCC

Desfa Yusmalina and Refiloe Kitchin came to the US from Indonesia and South Africa. The respective countries are at least six thousand miles apart.

Yusmalina is from Bangka Belitung Islands, a province of Indonesia. Yumaslina is a Community College Initiative Program participate.

The CCI program is a one-year scholarship that provides exchange students with new leadership skills and cultural experiences. At 30 years old, Yusmalina is studying Business Management at Scottsdale Community College.

In July, her American traveling started and she crossed pathes with Refiloe Kitchin.

Kitchin is from Kuruman, Northern Cape province of South Africa.

Kitchin is in the International CCI Program at SCC, she is 28 years old and chose an area of study that is rare for women in her country.

“Not many women are studying Computer Information System in my country,” Kitchin said.

Yusmalina and Kitchin have different lives and backgrounds, but they both came to the US leaving behind their families for their goals.

Yusmalina was studying Islamic Education at College of Teaching and Educational Science, Muhammadiyah Bangko Belitung in Indonesia. She has worked as an administration staff at a senior high school for three years and has also worked as an Islamic, Math and Arabic teacher.

Sevilay Kelek/SCC
Refiloe Kitchin studying in her apartment

Kitchin was studying Information Technology and Web Development at the Central University of Technology. After she studied to become a Microsoft Certified Professional at ATTI College in South Africa.

Yusmalina and Kitchin want to be successful their academic and working career. They want to improve their leadership skills and help in their families for the future.

Yusmalina and Kitchin have been voted among their CCI peers to have the most successful life stories and are a model to other women.

Their common trait…they are both mothers.

Kitchin is a single mother and her daughter Anaya is 9 months old. Also,

Yusmalina has a daughter and a son. Her daughter’s Zahira is 8 years old, and her son’s Faiz is 6 years old.

“My family, my husband, and my children support me studying,” Yusmalina said.

She says her family believes that if you want to change your life, you must do it yourself and cannot ask someone to change your life.

“I love my child… when she was 7 months old, I came to Arizona. It’s very difficult for me. She is very young and I feel like I need to be there, although honestly she is living with my parents who I more than believe can take care of her. My mother is very helpful for me. When I see my child on Facebook, I want to be there,” Kitchin said.

Yusmalina and Kitchin are roommates with two other Indian friends.

They are equally happy to learn about the different cultures (Indian, African, Endonesian…)

“We have a different country and culture, and we share our culture.  We know about their food (Indian food, South Africa food…) their dances and clothing. Also when we feel homesick, we miss our families and our culture. We can homesick together.” Yusmalina said.

” We are learning our languages, sometimes we ask for example, how are you saying hello in your language,” Kitchen said.

They are very happy be participants in the CCI Program.

They are learning about the American culture, economy, lifestyle, and education system.

“Terimakasıh CCI atas dukungannya!” Yusmalina said.

” Kea leboga CCI ka kemo nokeng ya lona!” Kitchin said.

These words in their languages mean, thanks for your support.