Mary Asala (Heydweiller) is a 2005 Notre Dame graduate and majored in Spanish and Italian. She currently lives in Albany, New York as an immigration paralegal and has three daughters. Asala writes about her time abroad in Puebla as an undergraduate student and how it helped her become a more global citizen.
Studying abroad in Puebla had a huge impact on my life. It was the first time I had spent significant time outside of the U.S. besides on vacation and gave me a totally new perspective - life seemed to slow down in so many important ways in Mexico. I had time - time to talk with friends, time to walk endlessly, time to appreciate the world around me, and not just be caught up in what came next, what I was supposed to do, what tasks I had to accomplish.
After graduating from Notre Dame in 2005, I returned to Puebla to complete my master's degree in applied linguistics at Universidad de las Américas (UDLA). I lived in Mexico for nearly five years during and after my master's program. I worked as an English professor at UDLA for four semesters. I had kept in touch with my Italian professor from Notre Dame, Professor Barbara Mangione. She expressed an interest in teaching Italian at UDLA and she and her husband soon arrived in Cholula as well.
Working as an English professor was one of my favorite jobs I have ever had. After I graduated from the master's program, I moved to Acapulco and co-owned a heavy equipment rental and sales business. I also worked as a freelance translator. After several personal changes, I decided I wanted to be closer to my family in upstate New York. I have been working as an immigration paralegal at a law firm in Albany, New York for the past 10 years.
My experience in Puebla allows me to relate on a more personal level to my clients, as I can understand what it is like to live in a country and culture that is not your own.
Because of my experience in Mexico, I see the world as a global community.
My husband, Chukwuma Asala, is an immigrant from Nigeria, and we have three daughters: Celeste, Skylar and Shayera. I hope that my daughters have the opportunity to know the world and see that in every country and culture there are good and bad things: things that you will identify with and others that you will not, including the country in which you were born. There is no better way to get to know yourself and know your purpose in life than to gain knowledge of others.
Learn more about opportunities in Puebla.