Sleeping in the Sahara Desert, teaching in China, and witnessing political violence in Jerusalem were just stops along the way for Tasha Fox, a Wright State University M.B.A. student who turned her undergraduate career into a priceless lesson in world geography and culture.
And this of a student who nearly cut short her first trip overseas after being overwhelmed by the language challenges and trying to fit in.
“I got to travel the world while getting my degree,” said Fox. “It challenges you to look at the world in a different way. It challenges you to look at yourself in a different light. I think I’ve learned more about myself traveling than anything.”
Fox grew up in Xenia, Ohio. Her father works at Wright State in Student Health Services, and her mother, who got her M.B.A. at Wright State, works as a project manager for Hewlett-Packard Enterprise.
After graduating from Yellow Springs High School in 2011, Fox spent a year in Brussels, Belgium, as an exchange student. Although she had taken French in high school, she initially struggled a bit in communicating with her French-speaking classmates and Belgian residents.
At one point, she felt it was too much to overcome and thought about returning home.
“But it ended up being one of the best experiences I could ever hope for because it pushed me in a way that I’d never been challenged before,” she said. “I ended up learning French, and I never thought I was capable of that.”
When Fox returned to the United States, she enrolled at Wright State because it was financially attractive and she was offered several scholarships.
During her freshman year she went on a three-week study abroad trip to the African nation of Tanzania, organized by the College of Nursing and Health.
“We worked with an orphanage. And we worked with patients who had HIV/AIDS,” she said.
In the fall of 2013, Fox got a scholarship to teach English in China—near the northeastern city of Dalian—for a semester.
“It was a culture I had never really been exposed to,” she said. “Chinese was a language which was not attainable in my mind. But I learned a lot more than I thought I was going to. By the end of it, we all had to have a 10-minute conversation in Chinese for our final exam.”
In January 2015, Fox left the country again to study in France, taking classes in business, French culture, and geopolitics at two different universities.
Then over the summer, she traveled on her own to Morocco and took the opportunity to do some camping in the Sahara Desert. (It was chilly, and she didn’t experience any sandstorms.)
Then Fox went to Israel, where she volunteered for six weeks at Project Harmony, an English summer camp in Jerusalem for Jewish and Arab Israeli children.
“I think Israel was one of the most life-changing experiences I’ve had,” she said. “I went into it pretty naive. I didn’t know what I was in for. I had known a little bit about the conflict, but not enough.”
Fox said she was surprised at the open racism in day-to-day life. The school where she was teaching was spray-painted with hateful graffiti, and she witnessed a stabbing at a gay pride parade.
“Everyone in front of me turned around and ran, and I knew something bad had happened,” she said. “I was really close. I jumped up on a wall to see what was going on and could see bodies and blood.”
An ultra-Orthodox Jew was arrested in the stabbing, which claimed the life of a 16-year-old and injured five other people.
Fox returned to the United States in the winter of 2015, graduated the following April with her bachelor’s degree in French, and is now pursuing her M.B.A. at the Raj Soin College of Business, where she works as a graduate assistant.
She is not sure about her career path.
“I’m really interested in peaceful conflict resolution after going to Israel,” she said. “International law is really appealing to me. Working with refugees or immigrants in the United States would be amazing.”
Fox credits Wright State with giving her the chance to see the world and learn about other peoples and cultures.
“I’ve been blown away by the number of opportunities that they have had for me to study abroad and the scholarships they offer,” she said. “Everything is there; you just have to go for it.”