Leading a successful life has been struggle and worthwhile learning experience for Lorain County Community College international student, Yoshila Deew. Seeking an education in America, 27-year-old Deew came to the U.S.in the summer of 2010 and enrolled at LCCC in the fall of that year. Traveling just over 10,000 miles from her hometown of Java Indonesia, an island best known for its coffee and natural beauty, to northeastern Ohio.
Even though Deew had experience working with different cultures while employed at Malaysian Airlines, she still some culture shock when she first arrived at LCCC. “It is really free speech over here,” Deew said. She said that with freedom comes taking responsibility for words and actions. “I learned when I was in Indonesia we don’t really have that kind of freedom. We have freedom, but its limited.”
“Very conservative,” is how Deew described the environment at her Indonesian school compared to her education in the U.S. In Indonesia, students are required to address their teachers with courtesy titles and make little eye contact, unlike instructors at LCCC, where a more informal atmosphere is usually encouraged. “Respect is important,” Deew explained.
Deew was also surprised by the absence of school uniforms in American schools, which is typically a symbol of school pride and acts as a social equalizer by averting certain behaviors. Deew accepts the American dress code as a freedom of expression, but wonders if the sense of competition that arises from it creates a distraction for American students. Understanding that how people perceive her will have an affect on the success of her career, Deew follows her own personal mantra of “If you want to be judged highly about yourself, put yourself in a display where people can highly judge you in a good way.”
Upon returning home in Jan. 2011, Deew learned that her mother had breast cancer. “I think she didn’t want to make me think much about it and to concentrate on my school,” Deew said. Almost two years later, in Dec. 2012, she received news that her mother’s cancer had become more serious, leaving her little time left to live. Deew had to postpone her final exams LCCC and return home to Indonesia so her and her mother were able to share their final goodbyes. “She was dying in the hospitals and the doctors said, ‘Take her home because there is nothing we can do’,” Deew remembered. Two weeks before Christmas, her mother passed away. Deew later learned that her mother was able to grant her four-year old sister, Trixie, the opportunity to study abroad with Deew.
But before she could leave for America with her sister, Deew needed to be awarded custody first. “I had to fight in court a long time,” Deew explained. Obtaining custody of Trixie proved to be a challenge as the court had never seen a case like her’s before. There was ‘no man of the house’ as Deew put it. If her sister was going to live with a family member, staying with Deew was the only option.
Not everyone in her life supported the decision to adopt her sister. Some even suggested that Deew place her sister in an orphanage. Some claimed that the 4-year-old wasn’t Deew’s sister since they don’t share the same father. “Is family defined by blood?” Deew asked. “ I don’t think so. I love her she is my sister and my daughter,” she said.
Ignoring the attitude of those around her Deew refused to sacrifice her sister to achieve her dreams. Deew eventually won guardianship of her sister, Trixie.
Deew was able to obtain visas for herself and her sister, after receiving help from former LCCC staff member, David Arredondo.
The sisters were finally able to honor their mother’s last wish. They left Java for Ohio On May 9th 2013, Deew’s 25th birthday. Deew spent the day traveling to America with her sister, one of her fondest memories. “It was the best birthday,” she said.
After graduating from LCCC with an associate of arts and an associate in business administration in the spring of 2014, Deew is currently earning a Bachelor of Business Administration at Kent State University through the LCCC partnership.
Faith, family, and the LCCC staff were how she endured through the hardships, Deew said, adding that they mean more to her then they will ever understand. “They always believe in me,” Deew said. “I know the feeling of having no one and suddenly having someone.”