Tina Francisco always knew that she wanted to help people.
It seemed like a natural fit to begin her studies at UP with a major in biology with the intention of one day becoming a doctor.
Although Tina really enjoyed her biology classes, she began to discover two new passion: German Studies and sociology. She had grown up on Guam, the daughter of a Chamorro father and a German mother and beginning college and taking advantage of the depth and the breadth of the liberal arts allowed Tina the chance to explore her biracial identity. During her first year, Tina declared a major in German Studies. As she learned more about her identity through German studies, she was simultaneously beginning her journey with sociology, opening her eyes to new ways of seeing the world and putting words to things she had been thinking about like racism and inequality. She was beginning to make sense of her experiences as a biracial person.
Tina’s blended cultural and ethnic identity made her eager to learn more about the experiences of marginalized people in Germany, motivating her to apply for an internship in the summer after her junior year with an organization called the Allerweltshaus in Cologne, Germany. As the only US-American volunteer on site, she worked with the staff to help aid a very diverse population of refugees and immigrants to Germany. She helped people new to Germany find practical solutions to everyday problems, like filling out a school application, as well as connecting them to resources such as courses in German as a second language and job listings. For Tina, this internship confirmed that she wants to continue to work with marginalized populations.
After graduation in 2019, Tina was awarded a Fulbright grant to serve as an English teaching assistant at a school near Bonn in Germany. She was the only Pacific Islander among 140 English teaching assistants in Germany and spent a lot of time teaching her students and her colleagues about Guam. Though her year in Germany was cut short because of the Covid crisis, Tina had begun to bond especially well with the fifth-grade Turkish-German girls, who looked up to Tina with admiration, seeing in Tina, a German-speaking woman of color, something of themselves.
Tina Francisco’s eagerness to learn more about who she is as a person and about her biracial identity ultimately led to an important detour during her studies. Through intellectually engaging coursework and hands-on, experiential learning, Tina has found her calling, and now, with a deeper understanding of her own unique identity and place in the world, she will pursue her passion working for marginalized and disenfranchised people. Tina plans to pursue a PhD in Sociology or will go to law school to advocate for the rights of indigenous people, especially those from the U.S. territories like herself. As Tina says: “It’s almost as if I’ve come full circle!”