Versia Hodges II graduated from ENMU in 2013 with a bachelor’s in communications with an emphasis in broadcast production. In May of 2017, the former Greyhound basketball player will receive a master’s degree in communications from ENMU.
Q. Tell us what you are currently doing, and how did this come about?
I teach English to 315 middle school students in China. Yes, 315 students! Half are 7th and half are 8th graders.
For some that may not know, I love using Google. Back in March 2016, I thought to myself, “Hmmm, why not teach abroad in China?” After nearly two weeks of searching, along with constant trial and error, I stumbled across the organization AYC Ameson.
More than 500 questions later--consulting with colleagues, friends and family members--I was on an international flight to Shanghai, China five months later.
Q. Tell us about your travels since graduating from ENMU. What are some of the experiences that stand out?
Before China, I spent a considerable amount of time in Los Angeles and Seattle. I first received a taste of international travel going to Vancouver, B.C., for my birthday in 2014. Some would say that Canada doesn’t count, given how close it is to the United States, but it counted for me.
Also, I traveled to Portland, Oregon, for a basketball tryout for an international league--which I loved!
Vancouver was the highlight of my travels after graduation. From the culture, the environment, and, even more so, the cuisine: gelato, pasta, to buffalo meat burgers, oh man, Vancouver made me want to cut my losses and start a new life there. I was that impressed.
For the three days I spent in B.C., one thing led to another. After meeting my friend Emilia, from Helsinki, Finland, the rest of the way was taken care of. I met her friends who were either Canadian, Russian or a combination of the two. And from there, I can recall sitting on the rooftop of their house watching the sun rise from the mountains to having the best mint-chocolate chip shake I’ve ever had in my life. And for the record, I despise chocolate and mint.
So, it must have been good to convince me otherwise. This experience was perfect. Literally, nothing went wrong.
Q. How do you contrast the atmosphere of the countries you have visited and the people you have met with what you experienced in the U.S.?
Well, for China specifically, to put it simply, it’s like going to Mars for the first time. Regardless of how much research you do of the area prior to arrival, the real effects will not hit you until you are actually living, breathing and experiencing it in real time.
Personal space in China? Forget about it. On a daily basis, you tend to bump, nudge or indirectly rub against others. No one would get offended, lash out at you, or insist for you to say, “Excuse me,” like an American would. It’s just a part of life. Just imagine being in a place where there are one billion plus people! It gets kind of crowded.
Since I have been in China, I have visited Japan, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia. In Japan, the people have a great working knowledge of English, which was helpful when asking for directions. My initial reaction to the Japanese people was that they were well organized, polite, meek and awkwardly indirect and obedient.
Singapore however, which has a higher population of Chinese people--aside from the warm weather and expensive lifestyle--Singapore was nothing more than a spot for tourist to take tons of pictures, go zip-lining or bask in the ambiance of “touristy culture.” After all, you can get from one end to the other of the country in two hours or less.
Now Malaysia, the cuisine was incredible! If you ever go, get this drink called Milo. Basically, it is hot chocolate with ice cubes. Bizarre, but so delicious!
With Indian, Cantonese, Chinese and Malaysian influences in the dishes, the combination of culture and flavor were unforgettable.
In regard to the people, being that Malaysia might as well be called “jungle country,” the people were laid-back and friendly. I don’t know too many movie theaters that allow you to walk in without shoes or flip flops. Nonetheless, this seemed like the common normality.
As for Thailand, more notably Bangkok, Thai people have the reputations of being friendly and hospitable. I quickly found this out to be fact the minute I arrived. Need I say more?
Q. What have you enjoyed most about your adventure, and what have been the biggest challenges?
Above all, the most enjoyable experience for me was that I challenged myself to do something out of my comfort zone. I have never backpacked before, let alone having my first go-around through four Asian countries. But this challenge taught me more about who I am, what I can bring to the table, and how far I’m willing to risk my life in pushing for my dreams.
Q. What stands out about your experiences or people you met at ENMU?
What stood out as the most rewarding experience at ENMU were the people I met and my ambition to embrace as much about the university as possible. From the International Club, the Student Fees Board, working at the Physical Plant, playing basketball for ENMU, front desk coordinator in the CUB, giving presentations, participating in Dawg Days, and volunteering within the community of Portales, all of these experiences have humbled me for the better.
Q. Where were you born, raised, and what was your life like growing up?
I was born in Los Angeles, California, and have lived in various parts of Southern Cal; Paramount, Cerritos, Norwalk and Chino. As a kid, growing up was fun! The world was my playground you could say. All I wanted to do was play and do things exciting all the time.
Whether that meant playing basketball with friends, climbing trees, throwing eggs at cars as they drove by, and video games, my childhood was the coolest ever.
My parents have been working for retail grocery stores for as long as I can remember. At first, it started out with me and my sister, Quian, who is 33.
But when my father remarried, he inherited two kids from his wife, Jacob (22) and Jessica (19). Then, we added twins to the family. Both girls named Maya and Mariah (10 years old). So, total there are six of us, with me being the second oldest.
Q. What are your hobbies?
As time changes, my interests change. Or transcend, whatever’s your preference. I enjoy swimming, yoga, dinning out, soccer, basketball, philosophy, art, design, music, photography, fashion and traveling to name a few.
Q. What is your ultimate career goal?
My career goal is to be able to travel and work. Staying in one place for too long can leave me bored and become tiresome.
Q. What gives your life meaning? Besides career goals, what else do you hope to accomplish?
Life is one big improvisation. You have to adjust as the situations come.
As for hope, I don’t believe in using the word. For me, “hope” is an excuse not to work or strive for something. So, this word does not exist in my vocabulary. If anything, my rewards will be an exact replica of my contribution, my service. Period.
Q. What was your general impression of Portales, and ENMU?
Before I officially moved to Portales in 2011, I was quite nervous and stressed. At the time, I couldn’t fathom the idea of leaving my family and friends behind to explore this new territory.
As I engrained myself into the ENMU system, it really saved my life. I mean, the university gave me the chance to study, develop, and acquire experience that would help prepare me for life ahead. To thank ENMU so much, I got a Greyhound tattoo on my left arm to prove my alma mater.
As a rural community for someone used to cities, Portales presented obstacles that I didn’t think I could conquer. But, looking back on it, I give a large amount of credit to ENMU.
Greyhound pride for life!
Q. Other thoughts?
I want to travel the world and experience new ideas, concepts and ways of living. You just may find out who you really are. #gobegreat
View more photos and read about more of Versia’s adventures at: https://filt7r.com/