If Melissa Wilson wanted to pursue one of her dreams she knew coming to the United States was her best option. "I'm from Montego Bay Jamaica that's on the Northernwestern coast of the island and I wanted to come to the United States because after leaving high school I didn't have many opportunities to do exactly what I wanted to do where I was and I know that the states offered a lot of different opportunities because doors are wide open here," she says.
"So I decided to come here to study and I really wanted to do dance ever since I was little and we have a few art schools at home, but they are not big as the ones here so I saw that this school had a dance program so I decided to come here and its been going well so far I started off at the basic level and I've enjoyed it so much so I just really want it to continue."
Melissa is studying at Hollins University located in Roanoke, Virginia. Initially she thought she would be home sick, but that ended up not being the case. "This is my freshman year and when I first got here the first thing I thought was that the campus is so beautiful because of all the trees and everything the whole decorum and at the beginning we had orientation for the internationals and the different games we played the different social activities it really helped me to warm up to being at the school here," she says.
"I [also] kind of got to know some of the people here and they seem very, very friendly its kind of amazing because when I first got here I thought I would feel very homesick being so far away, but people embrace you so much and make you feel so warm that sometimes you forget that you are not at home so that was one of the biggest things that stood out to me."
When it comes to her classes, Melissa says she is happy that all of her classes kind of blend in together and that makes it easy for her to learn. "Surprisingly, the classes that I choose this year even though they aren't really a lot they all seem to blend together well because I choose to do Spanish I choose to do dance, visual arts and also my first year seminar and also a sports class what I've seen like a link between all of them where one class that I take it helps the other. I'm taking modern dance here and this is something that I wasn't use to before because I am normally just use to dance like at church, but being here at first my opinion was like it is kind of weird to see them dance, but now it has opened my mind how people perceive dance and how the different ways in which you can use dance and I don't feel so narrow minded anymore I feel like my mind has broaden and so I am just keeping my mind open but it is a good program here."
Melissa has a few more years before she graduates from Hollins University. Whether or not she goes back home she says its not up to her. "This is a four year program unless I decide to do my masters I will graduate in 2013 and I would love to be a dance teacher for little children and if possible a teacher of the visual arts like painting and drawing.
I would love to go back home and teach there, but depending on how things goes till then or what God has in store for me then I will know whether I should stay or go back home."
Melissa says she is proud to be an international student studying in the United States. "I'm kind of proud that I am an international student here because I am able to stand out in some ways and I am able to represent my country in some way or another. I kind of like it when people come to me and say oh you have an accent where are you from and I tell them I am from Jamaica and they say nice and I am able to share a little bit about where I am from with them and I just think it's wonderful and I also think I've grown in just being more open minded to people and its good just to get to know the person."