Meet Aisaule Samarbekova! The Psychology major from Kazakhstan reflects on her freshman year at LCC as full of growth and transformation. Organizing events at StuCo, leading Bible studies, and being part of a multicultural community continues to help Aisaule become even more confident in her abilities and in faith, and even more open-minded.
How would you describe your life growing up?
My life has always been active and moving, I tried a great variety of activities. For example, I was involved in photography, singing, dancing, painting, and all kinds of creative activities. My main interest for a long time, however, was English. I thought I would be an English teacher, and I volunteered in an American cultural center and led some speaking clubs there. Having graduated from high school, I took a gap year during which I actually tried working as an English teacher and I came to realize that it wasn’t something I was really interested in long-term. I found myself desiring to help people in broader yet deeper ways, and not just by teaching a specific skill or language. My experience in FLEX led to this realization.
How did you learn about FLEX and how did it impact you?
I actually learned about the program years before I applied. I watched videos with people’s testimonies and experiences, and I also heard about it at the American cultural center and my high school. It sparked my interest, and for a few years, I dreamed about participating in FLEX. The dream eventually came true, and it set a new course for my life. The biggest shift was me becoming a Christian while in the US, and together with that, becoming more open and peaceful within.
Did FLEX bring you to LCC?
Yes, I learned about LCC through other FLEX students. We would discuss various universities and talk about the places people were applying to. The name of LCC came up, and I was intrigued by a North American-style university in the heart of Europe. I did my own research and decided that LCC was a place for me because I liked the American style of education, and Europe was new for me altogether.
You’re a Psychology major - how did you become interested in this field?
In high school in the US, there was a class for students with special needs. I made friends with one girl who had mental difficulties. We became close friends, and by the end of the year, I saw her change, and become more open, and started to feel better mentally. Seeing how simply being friendly and nice to somebody can help them in profound, meaningful ways truly inspired me. Having gone through a depressive phase myself, I had only my own family to talk to and seek help. In Kazakhstan, mental health problems tend to be stigmatized and not talked about. The younger generations try to be more open about depression, but in general, not many people talk about it. I saw this issue firsthand, and that’s why I want to study psychology and help remove the stigma from mental health issues.
Your freshman year was marked by your role in StuCo as the Event Coordinator. How was this experience?
I was part of the Student Council in high school, so I had some experience already. I was also a FLEX representative in my city, and I led a music club that taught English through music and lyrics. I’ve always enjoyed organizing events, so StuCo wasn’t a totally new thing for me. But it was an interesting experience! I think the highlight was the Talent Show. I knew it was an annual event that everyone was looking forward to. Even though it was online, we made it work and it was really nice. I’m proud of StuCo because we all worked together as a team.
Being a new face in the LCC community, was it challenging to adapt and to assume leadership roles?
Actually, it wasn’t difficult to adapt at all. During my gap year, I was living by myself, so by the time I was in Klaipėda, I already knew what adult life was like. In fact, on my very first day at LCC, I already felt like I was home and that this was a place I belonged in. With that being said, I did have doubts about applying to StuCo. I was thinking that nobody knew me and no one would choose me because I was a freshman. Yet I knew that I had the skills and the experience to be a suitable fit for the leadership role, so I successfully applied.
Are you involved in any Leadership positions next academic year?
Yes, I will be a Discipleship Assistant. This year I already led Bible studies on my floor, and I loved it. I wanted to take it to the next level, and I see this position as a chance not only to serve the community but to grow spiritually as well. I have some really cool project ideas for the next year!
Reflecting on your freshman year at LCC, what are the ways in which you have grown as a person?
I’ve definitely become braver, being able to share my ideas and making them come true. I also think I’ve become stronger in my faith, and I can comfortably express my beliefs. I’ve always considered myself an open-minded person, but at LCC I’ve become even more willing not only to share my ideas but to listen to what others have to say and contribute. Being exposed to many different ideas and many different people is transformational.