Monthly Archives: October 2015

An Anxious Intern Awaits the Awful Intern Event

We are now pretty much halfway through the semester and the work from this internship hasn’t killed me yet. The infamous “intern event” looms in the distance of next month, but my anxiety and uncertainty about it has subsided. Okay, well my anxiety hasn’t totally subsided, considering I still need to make the flyer and the press release for the event and actually execute it, but the uncertainty is definitely gone.

For my event, I enlisted the help of Lee Ann De Reus, an Associate Professor of Human Development & Family Studies and Women Studies at Penn State – Altoona. Dr. De Reus is a close friend of an organization on campus called Global Brigades, where I’m on the executive board. Due to this pre-existing relationship, Dr. De Reus has already traveled to University Park to give talks about international work and advocacy multiple times and was happy to accommodate my request for a lecture.

Dr. De Reus is also the co-founder/assistant executive director of Panzi Foundation USA and travels regularly to Panzi Hospital in eastern DR Congo to conduct research, develop programs for rape survivors, and inform her advocacy work in the U.S. She co-leads annual field experiences for PSU students to Rwanda and Mozambique and co-founded Beza Kids in support of vulnerable women and children there.

The talk is entitled “Daring to Make a Difference: Finding Your Voice For Global Change” and will take place on Tuesday, November 17th at 111 Chambers starting at 6:30 p.m. for those interested in attending.

I’m very excited to host Dr. De Reus for her talk next month and listen to her ideas on helping students find their on voice for global change!

Events that Raise Global Awareness

After almost three months working with the Center for Global Studies, I can definitely say I now have a better feel of what the Center does and its purpose on campus. When I applied to this position as a Graduate Assistant, I was drawn by the fact that the Center’s interdisciplinary research initiatives: justice, sustainability, and ethical leadership, however I was not really sure how a small office in Old Botany Building will be accomplishing all those things.

The Center for Global Studies does a tremendous amount of job bringing top quality speakers from all over the world to raise awareness on global ethical topics not only in Penn State, but also in State College, PA. Every speaker who comes to the university to discuss cultural or global matters is promoted by the Center and with these events, the CGS manages to have a strong impact on the local community.

My experience so far has been very hands on, and this month we were given the opportunity to plan our own event for International Education Week. Penn State’s International Education Week aims prepare Americans for a global environment and to celebrate the benefits of international exchange. As soon as I got the opportunity to plan an event for this week, I decided to do it on a topic that I believe needs more global awareness and it is also very near and dear to my heart.

I decided I wanted to help raise awareness on the current political situation of my home country, Venezuela. This is a relevant current topic that is not receiving as much media coverage as it should due to conflicts of interests between foreign governments and Venezuela’s government.

For this event I decided to contact an expert on this subject, Alfredo Malaret, a Venezuelan graduate student from Penn State’s School of International Affairs specializing on Development Policy and International Security Studies.

Planning an event is always time consuming, you have to pay attention to details, make sure you get the right venue, create a flyer and a press release to promote it properly, and constantly communicate with the speaker to make sure that you both are on the same page. However, despite the fact that it is hard work, it is very rewarding, especially when you are given the opportunity to work on something that matters to you.

I am infinitely thankful for this opportunity, and I am looking forward to see all the hard effort pay off with a successful event.

Venezuela: From Dictatorship to Democracy will take place on November 11, 2015 at Chambers 108 from 4:15-5:00 p.m. If you are interested in learning more about this topic I invite you to join us and expand your global knowledge!

Learning on the Job

I have only been an intern with the Center for Global Studies for one month, and already I have been pleasantly forced out of my comfort zone. While it was originally intimidating and left me wondering if I would be capable of all the things expected of me, I feel confident that the skills I learn will be beneficial for a wide variety of future careers. The help from our advisor Sarah Lyall-Combs and the inspiration from my fellow interns has so far given me expectations of good things to come.

My first assignment was to enter all the classes Penn State offers that have an element of global studies into a master spreadsheet. While it wasn’t what I would consider all that fun of a task, it taught me valuable lessons. I set my standards for how quickly I could accomplish it way too high, and after setting my personal deadline for finishing it too early, I struggled to keep my promise. It is a lesson that only takes once to learn and hopefully one I will remember throughout the semester.

However, already the work here has paid dividends in terms of applying to my interests and potential career fields. The Center sponsored a screening of German actress, documentarian, and director Mo Asumang’s documentary Die Arier. As a German minor, I am always interested in learning more about the culture and language that makes Germany and all German-speaking states such unique places. The film detailed Asumang’s quest for understanding of the roots of the term “Aryans” and how it applies to modern day neo-Nazi groups in Germany and the U.S. The film showed her, a black German, confronting racists head on at neo-Nazi rallies, Ku Klux Klan meetings, and even in their own homes. The film showed the absolute ludicrousness of the racist movements and how useless and misguided the term “Aryan” actually is. The film showed taboo sides of both Germany and the U.S. that don’t get much attention on a daily basis, and was an important reminder that intense racism still exists. It also brought to light the necessity to never relent in the continual education of tolerance and respect, because if anything, the film showed how fundamentally flawed beliefs not founded in fact or reason are cause for so much hate.

Interviewing Ms. Asumang and Rafi Nadiri were wonderful insights into cultures I was unfamiliar with. Growing up in Southwestern Ohio, I was never given enough exposure to different cultures, other than what was portrayed in the media. Being allowed to conduct my own interviews of fascinating people from different places is something I am very much looking forward to. The American media has its own way of portraying places like Afghanistan, and largely ignores the seedier parts of society like the neo-Nazi groups. Being able to speak firsthand with incredible people like Rafi Nadiri (who works to improve the rule of law in Afghanistan and protect the rights of women) and Mo Asumang has already given me alternative narratives of the world. Once again, they are learning experiences that give me valuable professional skills as well as a better idea of the world around us and the endlessly fascinating people that make it up.

I am looking forward to helping the Center bring more guests like Asumang to Penn State to help educate and inform our students. She is a fascinating person, and I’m sure there will be many more with equally important lessons to teach. I cannot wait to be a part of it all!