By Ashley Festa
Cabrera, who goes by Susie in Texas and by Sushan in China, accepted a job with an American company right after she graduated from UIW in December. The company, Rooster Products International, needed someone to help establish a representational office in Shenzhen, China, a city about an hour away from Hong Kong.
With a bachelor’s in communication arts and a minor in Chinese, Cabrera was the perfect person for the Asia operations coordinator position. She learned how to communicate effectively, and now she’s learning business sense on the job. Fluent in conversational Chinese, Cabrera gets help from a tutor to learn the industry vocabulary she needs to express herself at work.
“I’ve always liked China, the culture and the people and challenging my language skills,” she said. “My parents have always pushed me to be open to other cultures, which is in large part why I became so interested in the Chinese culture.”
Business and language classes and an internship have taken her in and out of China for four years. She’s a trailblazer in many ways; UIW doesn’t have a sister school in Cabrera’s favorite city, Shanghai, but she worked out a way with the university to study there. She also helped create the minor in Chinese as a foreign language program at Incarnate Word. Now, more students are following her lead.
“I feel that UIW is always encouraging diversity, spirituality and kindness. All these things I can find here in China, and I enjoy encountering them daily,” she said. “I was not so nervous because China feels like a second home for me.
“Here I am, learning a lot about myself and the things I love in life. I am most grateful for the unconditional love from my family, friends and boyfriend. They have made this whole experience much easier.”
Not that leaving San Antonio was easy. She misses her loved ones in Texas, and though she likes Chinese culture, she finds some aspects challenging. Like the time her landlord touted the oven in the apartment she was about to rent, and Cabrera found a bread toaster.
The best part of being in China is “being in the middle of a country that is progressing so quickly and seeing that before my eyes,” she said. She’s amazed at the number of entrepreneurs. “In the U.S., people go to college to learn how to work for someone else. But in China, it’s more about what you can do for yourself.”