International Events on Campus

Darija Lessons ✍

─October 17, 2014

I went to Darija (Arabic) lessons in Kaufman Hall, and it was an especially interesting experience since I don’t know any Arabic, and there were few (if any) English cognates for me to latch onto. The language was really beautiful, and I spoke with one of the instructors who had been a part of the Arabic Flagship Program and was majoring in Arabic. He said he had been most interested in the language to gain a better understanding of the Middle East, and even after almost four years of study, he said he definitely needed more exposure before he’d be able to carry on more complex conversations. The lesson made me want to learn a little Arabic, but after seeing it written, it’s a bit daunting.

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Día de Los Muertos ✿

─October 31, 2014

       My friends and I attended and volunteered at the Día de Los Muertos festival on Friday, October 31st. It’s a (primarily) Mexican holiday when those who have passed are commemorated. Of course, there was lots of food and dancing, and they actually brought llamas! My friend Kelly and I were stationed in several different spots including an inflatable bouncy house for the younger children, and during the night (this was the most exciting part for me), I spoke with several Hispanic children (aging from about 9 to 13) in Spanish!
       Just through these first few months of the semester, I have become so passionate about language-learning. It’s so much more than just learning words and grammar – I feel like there is a transparent forcefield separating people who speak different languages. You can observe and deduce things about the people on the other side, but you don’t know them intimately, and you are essentially an outsider. But with my beginnings of Spanish-speaking, it feels like, little by little, I’m sticking my hand through the forcefield, then my arm, and as I progress (and hopefully travel abroad to study in a Latin American country), I will have passed through that barrier completely, and I will be able to truly get to know the people and interact with them fully, learning the intricacies of their culture and their lives. Outside of my Spanish class, I’ve been doing a lot of independent studying, and I was able to speak to children at the festival and understand them pretty well. I made sure to preface my conversations with the fact that I was only beginning to learn the language, and they were very sweet.
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 IAS Career Prep and Networking Event
─November 13, 2014
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       On Thursday afternoon, I attended the Career Prep and Networking Event for International and Area Studies. Though my major is environmental science, I’ve spoken with many people about the possibilities of working for an international environmental company or even using my background and skills to do volunteer work in developing countries who desperately need environmental advice and teaching. A few organizations that I’ve researched are Terra Nuova (located in Italy – it focuses on promoting socio-economic development in Africa and Latin America, and many of its projects are environment-related), and International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (organization that connects the environmental efforts of 120 countries in their efforts to enforce environmental policy).

I spoke with representatives who had been in the Peace Corps, and they discussed the close relationships that they developed with the communities they worked with. I asked about having to maintain some sort of job in order to support myself, and they said that I would be paid enough to live at the standard of the people I was helping. I thought that was really beautiful, and I think that will be something I will apply to do when I finish college. I took in everything I could, and my gaze landed on the table for Foreign Service, and as that was something I was interested in, I decided to go get some information.

I spoke with a political Foreign Service officer, as I had considered this type of work before coming to college. He stressed that moving every few years could be difficult for some and that the work, like most all IAS careers that I’ve learned about, is very involved, and not everyone has the drive to succeed at it. He mentioned that before he had familial commitments, the job was easier. Traveling every few years didn’t leave him hurting to see his family, and there was no one to consider but himself when he was offered a position in a more dangerous country. This hit home the most for me, as I don’t know how I would adapt to possibly years of not having my family with me in physical form. I took a few brochures and pamphlets to read over and then moved to another table near the back of the event.

The table was titled “Universidad de Alcalá,” and I spoke with Megan Reeves, a woman who had worked at the Instituto Franklin at the Universidad de Alcalá in Spain. I’m pursuing a minor in Spanish, so this interested me at first, but after speaking with her, I found out that it was more teaching-based and that many people who go are majoring in education, so I didn’t think it was a good fit for me. Overall, the event was so fun, and it was exciting to see more of the opportunities for international work and volunteerism. I was reminded of how excited I am to take my first study abroad trip.

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