Hi there! My name is Alexia Arielle Vargas, but everyone calls me Lexi. I am Puerto Rican raised in the United States of America and I have lived in China for 3 years.
大家好！我叫 Alexia Arielle Vargas，大家都叫我 Lexi。我是在美国长大的波多黎各人，在中国生活了 3 年。
When I was in high school and college, people would ask me, “Where would you like to travel if you could go anywhere?” I’d say, “Asia, China would be an amazing place to see and learn more about.” Throughout my life living in New York City, it was always a dream to travel and being able to come to China would be such a wonderful opportunity.
I come from a family of 5 siblings, three brothers and a little sister. I was a middle child, and we didn’t have much, but we made the best out of every situation we were in. I was kind of an odd ball growing up, but a pretty good scholar. I had opportunities to go Europe because of my performance in school to accept an award, but it did not include the travel cost and neither my school, nor my family could afford it, so I was unable to go. When I was in college the opportunity to study abroad began to feel more real. I really began to feel like this would be my opportunity to travel abroad and begin my journey to see the world.
During this time, I began having some family and relationship issues and felt like I had to be the glue to keep everything together, so I decided that it wasn’t my time yet and I had to push my dream aside a little while longer.
Throughout my years in college and university getting my bachelor’s and master’s degree in education I knew one thing for sure, I wanted to teach and work with children. While I was in school, I would work four different jobs (including teaching), volunteer at community centers to help underprivileged students with their homework, host mingle nights at the elderly hospital to play games, do hair, paint little old ladies nails and sometimes even boogie (don’t let the elderly fool you, they know how to party) all while going to school and taking night classes. There were no days off. I was busy every day, 7 days a week, but I loved it. Being involved in my community and meeting new people was always such an adventure for me. During my last year of University, I knew that a new chapter in my life would soon begin, but where?
攻读教育学学士和硕士学位期间，我明白了自己的理想：我想当老师，和孩子们一起学习。上学时，我打了四份工（包括家教），在社区中心做志愿者，帮助贫困学生补习，晚上去养老院举办活动：玩游戏，理发，给老太太涂指甲油，甚至跳舞（别被老人家骗了，他们懂得在派对上怎么玩），同时我得学习，上晚课，没有休息日。一周 7 天，我每天都很忙，但我喜欢这样的状态。参加社区活动，认识新朋友，对我来说是一项挑战。大学最后一年，生命中的新篇章即将开始，我该何去何从呢？
I started applying to schools abroad, but was very skeptical, I didn’t know anyone who worked or lived abroad. I would hear stories of other people’s adventures of traveling or studying, but no one in my life lived abroad. At this point in my life, I’m thinking going abroad is just a fairytale fantasy, a dream and just a dream. What are the one in a million chances I’d get a job abroad doing what I love- teaching? Could this be possible?
I had also applied to many other schools around the States. Going through countless interviews from different schools in the States as well as abroad like Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, and Xiamen. I began hearing back from more schools overseas than from schools I had applied to in the States. I received offers from schools in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Xiamen. After doing some research and browsing through social media I knew Xiamen was for me. There wasn’t much out there about Xiamen, but when I learned that I’d be living on an island surrounded by palm trees and mountains (the exact opposite of NYC) I knew this is where I wanted to be. I saved up as much money as I could for years and thought this is my opportunity to go out there and really live my dreams.
When I first moved to Xiamen, I began questioning everything, worrying if I made the right decision. I just left everything and everyone I know behind. Even though I was so excited to be immersed in a new environment and culture, I was worried I couldn’t do it. Getting to know the city, I realized I live in such a beautiful city and within no time I knew I wanted to be as involved as possible. I began getting involved in community events and meetings. I even had the opportunity to host events like a Christmas painting event for families and friends and even a beach clean-up. When COVID-19 began I wanted to try and help lift the spirits in our communities, not just in Xiamen, but all-around China and drew a picture and took a selfie to help send positive messages around and asked the community center if we could gather pictures of our community members and put together something to help give back and to stay positive and strong when lockdowns began. So many people got involved and it started to spread throughout China. Till this day I like to be as involved as possible meeting so many different people from all around the world. This has truly been an amazing opportunity. I have made such great friends that I consider family. Xiamen has become a place for me that feels like home.
I was born and raised in the big apple of New York City, also known as “the city that never sleeps”. A place where everyone gravitates towards the food, Broadway shows, and the beginning of eras like hip hop music and graffiti art.