Art History and Finance major Kellee Matsushita '09 believes that the CYA program gave her the opportunity to question and develop her own cultural identity and values in a way she wouldn't have been able to in the US. "While I was not raised with an incredibly strong cultural background, my interactions with other foreign exchange students and local Greek people provided me with an incredibly valuable opportunity to reflect on the authenticity of my own cultural heritage. For the first time I had a fresh framework in which to consider responses I received from students in my earlier years, like when I brought cold soba noodles to school for lunch, and they said they looked like worms, or when my mom insisted on bringing red envelopes filled with chocolate coins to my class to celebrate the Chinese New Year."
Kellee, a Chinese-Japanese American whose second language is Spanish, was faced with many questions about her identity while being abroad, but feels that the opportunity allowed her to break stereotypes. "I realized that being so far away from all the things you know provides a chance to overcome boundaries, regardless of your national or ethnic identity."
While in Athens, Kellee took Aegean Art and Archaeology, Modern Greek, Ancient Greek Vase Painting, Religions of the Middle East, and Politics of the Middle East. She also did volunteer work helping victims of the massive summer forest fires that had left many Greeks homeless.