Study Abroad Japan Experience

In June 2018, a group of ACC students set out on a study abroad adventure to Japan to study ceramics, drawing, painting, and photography and learn about Japanese culture. Here is what one of our students, Savannah Lewis-Sweed, experienced.

Lewis-Sweed and partnerMy favorite thing about the trip to Japan was immersing myself in nature that I was unfamiliar with. Growing up in Colorado, I had the privilege to explore trails and mountain scenes and going to Japan was an even greater privilege. Since the climate there is usually rainy, moss and small leafed plants grow everywhere. Japanese building surrounded by vegetationThe air seemed to linger with the scent of gentle rain. I would love to return and see Mount Fuji and explore the anime centers of Tokyo. One of my accomplishments was I made these little thank you notes to go with these miniature wheel-thrown pots my girlfriend, Vanessa, had made for the special people we encountered in Japan. It felt good to collaborate and create something small, but meaningful. In Japan, tips are not accepted, but small gifts are a great way to show appreciation.

water pouringPrior to the trip I was anticipating what I would learn about myself. In Japan, I was able to trust others and accept that my quiet nature greatly benefited me in several social situations. I learned a lot from listening and I believe that lesson will benefit me in the future. While learning about myself, I also learned about Japan’s culture. Despite the large crowds, it was hardly ever loud. Everyone spoke at a respectful volume. Savannah and VanessaThe subways, streets and even the alleys were spotless. Hardly ever will you find stepped on food, gum or even cigarette butts tossed in the streets. The city even has cleaning crews who wash the sidewalks and roads. The people who live in Japan take pride in leaving public places clean and litter free. Although there were many attractions and exciting foods to try, I wouldn’t have enjoyed the trip nearly as much without my girlfriend, Vanessa. She has always supported me in my decisions and helped me through several firsts on the trip to Japan. I also had the wonderful opportunity to bond with people I had never talked to before and discovered that we have more in common than just ceramics and a love to create. Together we were able to enjoy every moment in Japan and always had each other’s back.

purple flowerThe kindness and thought put into every moment in Japan made it difficult to return home. After being in a different culture for so long, it was challenging to face reality. There wasn’t a transition period from a country of lush and love. Arriving to DIA didn’t feel familiar or as comforting as I had anticipated. Upon returning home, I was faced with this persistent feeling of struggle and strife to truly see if I wanted to change, if I really wanted to be a person who was kinder, more patient, and considerate of myself and the energy I bring into the room.vegetation There were certainly moments once I was back home where I felt like the worst version of myself. It was an emotional and mental tug of war, one side wanting to give into my inner selfishness, where the other was begging the other side to see reason and trust that adopting a giving nature, doesn’t mean being left with nothing in the end. I was forced to face my actions and to see myself as my girlfriend, friends and peers saw me. I compare it to when reptiles shed their old skin in order to make room for their new skin. The process is uncomfortable, but the journey is worth the destination. Any opportunity for growth should be taken and understood that allowing events and experiences to change you is not an easy process, because if it was easy, everyone would do it. It has been nearly three months since my return from Japan and I can say with confidence I have gratefully accepted how a study abroad trip to Japan has changed me.  

by Savannah Lewis-Sweed

ACC Student Spotlight: Leah Porter

ACC Student Leah PorterAt ACC, Leah received lots of support from administrators, faculty, and staff. When she realized she want more than just an associate degree, she reached out to several ACC employees and was offered help in fulfilling her goals and achieving her dreams.

Leah loves that ACC is small and that everybody is very nice. She also loves that ACC has a Dean of Students, Vice Presidents, and the President of the college walking around communicating with students. “Our school doesn’t preach inclusivity, we practice it,” said Leah. ACC has become her new family.

The three most valuable benefits Leah have received from ACC are:

  • Education
  • Confidence
  • Leadership skills

Leah tells people that if you want success, there are lots of resources available to help you find your success within the school or on a national level. She also said, “ACC changed my life. At ACC, I have achieved what I thought was impossible. I received awards from ACC and the national level.” She is the honoree in the PTK’s All Colorado Team, Coca-Cola Gold Scholar, Guistwhite Scholar, and ACC’s Rising Star. ACC is proud to have Leah as part of the family.

She graduated in May 2017 and is transferring to CU Denver for her Bachelor’s in Business Management. Her new goal is to pursue a Master’s Degree in Higher Education to inspire others the way she has been inspired. “My experience at ACC is beyond wonderful,” said Leah. She will continue to Move Mountains!

by Karen Browning, ACC Marketing Project Manager

ACC Faculty Spotlight: Adam Shelffo

ACC Business faculty Adam ShelffoAdam has reached his 6th year at ACC as a business faculty member. Additionally, he is a Littleton native and a proud graduate of Columbine High School. So in many ways he has always considered ACC home and is honored to serve in the community he was raised.

The best thing about being a part of the ACC community is the relationships Adam has developed with the ACC student body. “I love hearing stories from my students, whether it is my 14 year-old student talking about product placements in Twilight movies or a 60 year-old student discussing employee motivation,” said Adam. Day in and day out, he just loves getting to know each of them to better serve their needs.

He would recommend ACC to others because this is a place that allows you to grow and flourish in a safe and nurturing environment that prepares you to confront life. “I feel honored to work at ACC, where I am able to serve the needs of our students; while allowing to capitalizing on my strengths and engage my passion,” commented Adam.

Faculty get a chance to know students by name. Employees get the opportunity to cultivate their strengths as a teacher and as a person. And ACC provides a space to foster relationships with students and colleagues alike. Adam Moves Mountains!

by Karen Browning, ACC Marketing Project Manager

Why Study Abroad with ACC?

Dreaming to go to London, Paris, Zurich, and Milan was just a dream 2 days before the spring semester 2015. That first day of spring semester Adam Shelffo (Business faculty) walked in and started to talk about a business class offered in the summer. Right away, I tuned out because I did not want to do a summer class. Next thing he says is, “We will be going to London, Paris, Zurich, and Milan.” Boom, it was done. I was going to be in my first summer class, going to Europe for 2 weeks. Those 5 months prior departure, all of the students and Adam met and discussed details for the trip. Getting to know the strangers that I would be living with for two weeks overseas was necessary.

Streets of London

Streets of London – photo by Raelynn Padilla

During these meetings we discussed how the “class” aspect was going to go, what we needed to pack, more importantly HOW to pack, as well as forms and other necessities for departure. The most stressful aspect was the packing, from a girl’s perspective anyways. Considering we had no idea what the weather was going to be even though it was in the summer, we got rained on a day in London. We had to pack for the different businesses that we visited, too, as well as for any adventures we went on. Tennis shoes/walking shoes are HIGHLY recommended with the amount of walking.

When we arrived in London, it was much more than I imagined. I have dreamt of seeing these places since I was a child. It was surreal. Taking a double decker bus, having fish and chips, seeing Buckingham Palace, the London Bridge, Big Ben, and other “touristy” things were amazing. For our first business visit in London, we went to Parkour Generations, and, yes, we did partake in a little parkour action. That summer I realized how much core strength I did not have. However, Parkour Generations taught us that in business or in life, since obstacles are always around, it is not bad to look at different ways to go around them, and having people there to help you is okay.

Eiffel Tower at Night

Eiffel Tower at Night – photo by Raelynn Padilla

After our 4 days in London, we took a train ride to Paris for our next 3 days. In Paris, we saw the Eiffel Tower, from many different angles, the Notre Dame, we also saw the famous Mona Lisa in the Louvre. A few of us after an evening boat tour through Paris went and saw Moulin Rouge. That performance was phenomenal. Bucket list item checked off. I think the best part of Paris, France, for me was going to see Chateau de Versailles. There are no words to describe the beauty of that place, the artwork, the hall of mirrors, the gardens, just perfect. If you get the opportunity to go to France, definitely check out Versailles

On from three great days in Paris to a breathtaking 3 days in Zurich. Green and blue, that all I have to say to describe the views. We got the chance to go to Mount Pilatus in Luzern. It was a 20-minute ride in a 4-person gondola up to a 3.5-minute ride on a 30-person aerial cableway car. From the top of the mountains, the view looked exactly like they do in the National Geographic. After a couple of hours exploring, we went on to the world’s steepest cogwheel railway. A total of 40 minutes to go down the mountain. Waiting for us at the bottom was a boat that took us all the way back to Luzern. An hour and a half on the boat seeing the green mountains and grass, along with the beautiful blue sea, was the best boat ride I have been on so far.

Boat ride to Luzern

Boat ride to Luzern – photo by Raelynn Padilla

The last 2 days in Europe were spent in Milan, Italy. First off, the food was AMAZING! I love Italian food, maybe a little too much. Anyways, we went to the Duomo di Milano and got to walk along the top of it. To see the detailed architecture out of marble is indescribable. When we toured it, it was being cleaned, which we were told takes years because of the size and details. On the north side of the Duomo, is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, which is a high-end shopping mall. Names like Prada, Versace, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Giorgio Armani, and even Ferrari.

Duomo, Milan

Duomo, Milan – photo by Raelynn Padilla

Along the way we had homework, which was to note the differences between these cities as well as the US. Differences from eating, dressing, to communicating, which I can speak for the other 11 students that went, there were many differences. One expects differences, but never expects the depths and details of every little thing you do on a daily basis. We learned how businesses run in each city. The interactions, the daily duties, expectation, and most importantly the etiquette of business. There were many adventures and sightseeing times, but the business aspects of the trip really put into perspective the uniqueness of the cultures around the world.

Why go again? This will be my second year going on this trip with Adam Shelffo, along with, hopefully, three other students that went last summer. I am super excited to go with these guys. You create a little family that you have to depend on across the ocean. These are the people you lean on when you run into obstacles, like still trying to figure out which way to look when crossing the streets of London. The people that you laugh when you get a little home sick, and remind you that you are on an amazing trip. The people that definitely help you with your homework last minute. Lastly, the people that you create amazing memories with and now have inside sayings and jokes that never get old. I am glad I went because I created friendships. I wish all 11 of those friends could join us again, but I am excited to create more friendships with the newcomers.

I am excited to learn about these new cities for this summer, Dublin, Amsterdam, and Brussels. I am excited to learn about the other new students that are going to be joining us. I am extremely excited that Terri Scrima will be joining our trip as well. She always has great assignments and lessons in her classes, so having her communications apart of the curriculum is going to make it a great class. Overall, I am looking forward to a fantastic experience.

For information, contact Adam Shelffo, adam.shelffo@arapahoe.edu or Terri Scrima, terri.scrima@arapahoe.edu or visit the ACC Study Abroad web page.

Pack your bags, grab your shades and come join us in the Danger Zone!

by Raelynn Padilla, ACC Student