As I begin my work this semester with The Center for Global Studies, I am very excited about all the opportunities this internship has for me. As an International Politics major, I love engaging in discussions about global issues and learning more about other cultures and governments. For me, this internship is the first chance I’ve had so far during my college career to apply what I’ve learned in an academic setting that isn’t a classroom. I’m looking forward to meeting and working with other people who share my interests and love for global studies. I hope that through the World Stories Alive program, I will learn more about foreign languages alongside the children for whom the program is for. Even as a student who is over ten years older than the children in attendance, there is so much to be taken from the stories and the languages. I hope to be in a career someday where I can meet and interact with people from all around the world so even minimal exposure to other languages and cultures now is so valuable. I am also looking forward to the multiple lecture series and the great speakers who are coming to Penn State this spring. Being able to learn about important global issues that concern health, politics, education and many other things from scholars who have studied the topics extensively is such a rare and special opportunity that I am fortunate to have. By writing about these lectures and doing further research about these issues I can gain deeper knowledge while improving my writing skills. I am grateful for the Center for Global Studies and am looking forward to all the experiences I will gain from my time as an intern there this semester.
‘I’ve never been this busy before’. It’s a thought that has occurred to me occasionally since this semester has begun. Each time it comes to me, I take a moment to savor the feeling, to let it marinate. It feels…different. I have an honors thesis (not to mention related requirements) to grapple with, a number of high level classes to take, and now an excellent internship opportunity. As with any change in life, there is a giddying amount of uncertainty involved- will I be able to handle everything adequately?
When I applied to the CGS I had a very specific mental image of what I would be doing. I envisioned a role not unlike a research assistantship position, where most of my engagements would involve technical-level writing around some of the center’s thematic focuses. It was clarified during the job interview that I would not be doing much of that-my first two activities have been hanging up posters around town, and cutting beaks for a children’s arts and crafts project.
I wouldn’t have it any other way, really. The internship represents an opportunity to find out more about myself. I have thrived in the African (Nigerian) workplace; at my previous internship (where I worked for 2 consecutive summers and a gap year) it was not unusual for me to represent the organization at local and international conferences. Working with CGS is a considerable step outside of my comfort zone, and conventional wisdom indicates that such places are where the magic happens in life.
At this point, a bit of context to make the moment more magical is in order. Time and time again while working and at school, I have been struck by the fact that African human capital has not received nearly enough of the investment it needs to create a lasting, positive change. I had mulled this thought over and over; eventually the notion of giving up the career I thought I wanted (the ‘safe’ one) for one focused on equipping future generations became less a hope and more a highlight in my life plan. In the same breath, a fortuitous string of events created an obligation for me to fill in a spot at my church’s Sunday school (let’s just say not many young adults do that). Fast forward to me cutting out paper beaks at a place where I thought I’d be looking up academic journals, and it begins to look like my plans are being validated somehow.
So when thoughts about being busy come, I know they are thoughts of amazement rather than complaint. These might well be the baby steps (forgive the pun) to a legacy that I can be proud of.