Round Square Exchange Student on the Mesa

This time last year you would find Camila Calderon, our most recent Round Square exchange student, exploring the many cathedrals in her hometown of Lima, Peru, or delving into a warm plate of Lomo Saltado, a Peruvian dish of sliced steak, onions, tomatoes, fries, cilantro, and brown rice. When she wasn’t whetting her appetite for cuisine and culture, Camila frequently enjoyed the sun and waves of Lima. “But the beaches here have way softer tides,” she says. “And the sunsets are amazing!” Camila’s hometown school is set in the middle of bustling downtown Lima, so she knew she was in for a treat with such a drastic change of landscape.

In late January, Camila joined the Cate community as the second exchange student this year to call the Mesa home. One of more than 190 Round Square schools, Cate connects with other member schools to create opportunities for students and teachers to develop international understanding, self-confidence, and a range of interpersonal skills through studying on host campuses.

For Camila, the move away from her home school’s IGCSE and IB curriculum has been a blessing and a welcomed change. “We have way more homework here,” Camila comments. “But at home, I don’t get to experience my courses at a different level. What you choose is what you get. At Cate, I’m able to explore different opportunities to test myself and figure out what I like and what I don’t like.”

Camila participated in the exchange to challenge herself to be an active student in a different environment, to gain knowledge from her new surroundings, and to live and study with people from around the world.  So far, Camila has found plenty of joy in her studies and in her work with the Learning Center, where she visits different after school programs in Carpinteria to help younger children with their homework and make crafts.

The weekly Servons Speaker Series has made an indelible impact on Camila’s Cate experience. “So much sharing! I felt really inspired after [Hunter’s February 7] chapel talk. Being able to be comfortable with yourself, and not try to be something else, he’s right. That’s how you should be remembered. I love Cate’s student talks.”

The transition to Cate and the U.S. was perfectly smooth for Camila. “When you go on an exchange in a new place you expect to feel somewhat lost. But that’s something really nice about Cate. There was not one moment when I felt like I didn’t fit in here,” Camila states, smilingly. The people of the Mesa certainly played a part in easing her transition. “My hosts, [sophomore] Grace Johnson and her family, have been really great. And Emily [Calkins ’20] makes sure that I’m never alone.”

Camila and Emily have a unique connection beyond being campus buddies. This summer, Camila and her family will play host to Emily on her exchange to Peru.

Welcome to the Mesa.