Category Archives: Spring 2014

The Value of Language in Education


During my time working with the  Center for Global studies, I have been able to observe as well as help with the Center’s efforts to promote the teaching (and learning!) of less commonly taught languages. As a Spanish major, I appreciate the value of learning a new language I have had many unique experiences as a result of my knowledge of Spanish, both during my semester abroad as well as in State College.  In an increasingly interconnected and globalized world, the value of communication is immeasurable. Global studies provides valuable assets to students that they will only develop further as they venture out into the world as professionals. During my time at Penn State, I enrolled in one semester of Arabic on a whim– the class fit in my schedule and I wanted to try something different. Sitting down in class on my first day, I was surprised when I opened my textbook, which was bound on the right side as is typical of Arabic books. I had not fully imagined the complexity of learning a new language with a completely different alphabet. Memory tricks and study methods I have used for other classes were no use to me in this class and I realized I had to change my approach if I wanted to do well in the class. It was hard work, but was a unique experience and I enjoyed the challenge. Unfortunately, I was not able to take a second semester of the class, as Arabic 002 was not offered the following semester.

As part of my work in the Center for Global studies, I have helped research the programs for less commonly taught languages here at Penn State, at the Commonwealth campuses, as well as at other Big Ten universities. The languages include Arabic, Chinese, and Hindi. I learned that other universities, like Penn State, were working to develop their language programs and offer more courses or even degrees in these lesser taught languages. The Center for Global studies is essential to achieving this goal at Penn State, and it was encouraging to see other universities with similar goals. Because of these programs, students like me are able to develop new interests and overcome challenges as I did during my semester taking Arabic. The value of a second (or third or fourth!) language is an invaluable asset that opens the door to countless opportunities.

Growing up, I was enrolled in public school, but my school system had a unique two-way bilingual program that immersed me in a class that had half english speaking students and half students who spoke Spanish as their first language. Half of my school day would be taught in Spanish, and half in English, with an hour SSL or ESL session for respective students. It was a unique and rewarding experience, and fostered my appreciation for cultural experiences and the beauty of language. I have admired how the Center for Global Studies actively seeks to provide equally enriching opportunities to students at the university level. Personally, I feel I have been lucky to pursue both language and culture in my secondary education, and look forward to finding a professional position that allows me to both continue my education as well as share my knowledge with others.

As I look towards graduation with my job hunt well underway, I know my knowledge of Spanish as well as global studies makes me a competitive candidate for jobs in my field. Such experience indicates to employers an awareness and actual engagement with the global community, which has become essential in most fields as well as in day to day life.


By ANNE DUVAL GOODRICH on December 11, 2013

My time as an intern at the Center for Global Studies provided me with a better look into the “real world” in comparison to any experience I have had in a more formal academic setting.  The real world application of what I have learned in the classroom will allow me to become more marketable as I enter the job force and I hope this experience will impress future employers. The skills I learned are transferable not only in the immediate future, but also as I progress throughout my chosen career.  Over the past few months I learned that taking risks and stepping outside my comfort zone leads to other opportunities. I demonstrated initiative to my supervisor and was rewarded by being offered the head internship position next semester.  Since this experience has been successful thus far, I am interested and excited to see how I handle my responsibilities in the spring.

I learned the importance of taking initiative and the payoff taking risks can have in a work environment. One task that I was in charge of throughout the semester was organizing a screening of Girl Rising, a film whose goal is to raise awareness about the importance of education for young females around the globe.  When I first saw the email I thought it would be great if the Center for Global Studies sponsored a screening at Penn State. At first I wasn’t sure if I should forward it to my supervisor, Sarah, because I had only just started as an intern.  After a little bit of thought, I decided to do so because the worst that could happen was that Sarah said no.  Fortunately, however, my initiative paid off, as Sarah really liked the idea and asked me to apply on the Center’s behalf.   Although I was initially reserved about taking initiative, my organization of the event is one of the reasons I believe I was offered the lead intern role for next semester. I know that not all of my bosses will be as receptive to ideas as Sarah was, but I now know that if I don’t offer my ideas they can never be accepted.

My experience organizing Girl Rising allowed me to network both on campus and within the community.  I established contacts with a woman who works in the Library, a PSU club president, and a few professors. If I am asked to organize an event next semester, I can use these contacts to help plan the occasion. Working across different departments is an essential skill because it is transferable to other jobs and offices.  Although I didn’t like communicating entirely over email, it is important that I learn and have experience doing so. Most employers want their employees to take initiative in order to inspire innovation. Many of the best global companies, including Google and IBM, encourage their employees to be creative and submit innovative ideas. Many companies are following in these companies’ footprints because corporations that encourage ideas from all employees are extremely successful.   Since I know that initiative pays off and I can relate my experience with Girl Rising, employers will know that I am able to work independently with the ultimate goal of identifying ideas that benefit the organization.

Over the past three months I have learned a few things about myself that will help me in the future whether that is in graduate school or in the workforce. I know now that I do my best work when I am organized and set goals for myself. When I began college I quickly realized that keeping a planner would be a crucial determinant of my success.  I rarely kept one in high school and my ability to hand in assignments on time suffered dramatically. I applied the importance of organization to the internship because I was determined to make a good impression.  I did not want to seem forgetful or distracted so I wrote everything down. I was very good about this for the most part because I am well aware of what happens when I don’t.

My time at the Center for Global Studies introduced me to a potential career in international studies and public relations. Before the internship I knew little about the School of International Affairs located in the Katz Building. However, I recently attended a career discussion and panel at the Katz Building that highlighted the benefits of getting a master’s degree and  ways to work internationally or with domestic organizations that have an international focus. This internship confirmed my desire to work either for a Non-Governmental Organization stateside or overseas.  I would also like to pursue a career in public outreach or public relations because I enjoy interacting with the public and encouraging international initiatives both on campus and within the community. Unfortunately my interest in public relations was sparked too late in regards to pursuing it as a major.  Luckily, however, I am currently enrolled in the intro level class on campus and really enjoy it.  Before starting the internship, I was unaware that a majority of my tasks would involve public outreach and creating information about internationally focused events, but I have been happily surprised. Overall, this internship has solidified my desire to work in public relations or public outreach as well as my desire to work for an organization with an international focus.

Overall, I’ve enjoyed the internship at the Center for Global Studies for a variety of reasons.  I’ve had first hand experience working in an office and was able to apply what I learned in the classroom in a different setting. I learned the importance of taking initiative in an office and the ability to work independently because many bosses don’t want to micro-manage their subordinates. The international focus solidified my desire to work overseas or for an organization in America with an international focus.  I hope I can combine this by working as a public outreach coordinator as well.  Next semester, I hope to expand on what I’ve learned by working on different projects and taking on more responsibility.

CGS Internship–Final Reflections

By KELLY ANN DIAZ on December 9, 2013

For my last blog post, I would like to reflect on my wonderful experience as an intern for the Center for Global Studies at Penn State for the Fall 2013 semester, and the best lessons I have learned in these fourteen weeks.

Computer skills are definitely something that I have improved on this semester. One of the biggest projects I dedicated my time to was changing information from a website to an Excel sheet. In the past, when I found a problem with a document I made (especially in Excel) I would get frustrated and quit, but when I encountered these problems as an intern at CGS, I had to calm down, step back, and come up with a reasonable approach for solving the problem as quickly and effectively as possible. At the beginning of the semester, I was asked to help reformat the newsletter. Doing this was, to be honest, extremely tedious. Every picture I moved, moved the box underneath, every font change affected the layout, and nothing seemed to move around where I wanted it to. I never had the chance to be the coordinator of the monthly newsletter, but by November I felt confident enough to volunteer to do so. Another task I did was composing a handout for the World Stories Alive program. This required using a template and shifting out content, colors, boxes, and pictures. I was afraid that this would be a hard task for me, but I actually enjoyed doing it, and was very happy with my final product. Technology may not be my best friend, but it is always a job requirement when I apply for internships and jobs, and I can confidently and honestly say that I have a lot of experience with Excel, word processing, and formatting.

Email has always been a difficult medium for me. I am used to texting, Facebook messaging, and making phone calls to receive and share information. Even my summer jobs in the past have not used email very frequently. I get dozens of emails a day to my psu email from club list-servs, internship advertisements, PSU newswires, etc., and sometimes I let so many pile up that I miss important information. This semester to maximize my efficiency and eliminate the chance that I would miss an email (after I did at the beginning of the semester), I created a CGS folder on my webmail account. Filtering emails from Sarah, my supervisor, Kortnie, our administrative assistant, Katie, our lead intern, Molly, our grad intern, or Matthew, Annie, and Sheryl, my co-interns, into one logical and organized place, made everything a lot easier for me. Now, thanks to Sarah’s 24 hour rule, I am a master at answering emails. I usually respond as soon as I open them, and if I cannot give the subject my full attention, I will respond when I get the time within a few hours. I have also learned that ALL emails from CGS personnel need to be opened and read carefully to begin with.

This internship gave me a lot of responsibility, and I really had to rise to the occasion. The way my class schedule worked, I could not make it into the office until late in the afternoon on Monday and Thursdays, at which point my supervisor was scheduled to leave for the day. Often times, I was left alone to get work done. The temptation was there to leave and go home or simply sit at my computer and play on Facebook, but I knew what was expected of me and what I needed to accomplish, and was able to fight the temptation and make the mature decision to be honest and hardworking, which is the qualities they saw in me when I was hired.

A lot of freedom is also given to me in planning lessons for my after school club at YSCP. Throughout the semester, my co-leader and I were only observed twice. The other weeks we still needed to create meaningful and worthwhile lessons for our nine 3rd and 4th grade students. This job meant so much to me that it was never tempting to disrespect my students and poorly represent the Center by giving a poorly planned lesson. I always felt that my hard work paid off.

Aside from my experience with the World on Trial event (see World on Trial blog post), my favorite tasks were teaching at YSCP and at America Reads. This has taught me a lot about my ability to working with children and the enjoyment I get from doing so. I hope that in my time as an attorney I get to work with children, and I also have dreams of retiring fairly young from the legal field and working as a teacher for a few years.

The experience of teaching a “UK culture” club was so rewarding for me because it allowed me to draw on my experience studying abroad in London last spring. When I interviewed for this internship, I referenced my abroad semester as one of my biggest qualifications for the job. Realistically, much of my office work did not require this experience, but this was definitely something that benefitted from my first-hand knowledge of British, Welch, and Scottish culture.

I would never admit it then, but at the beginning of the semester, I was very thin-skinned. When I received a criticism on a newsletter article I wrote, my lack of ability to answer an email quickly enough, or had a mis-spelling pointed out, I shirked away from these comments and had a difficult time not seeing them as personal attacks. However, after making several small mistakes and being kindly and professionally taught by Sarah, I learned that these “criticisms” are massively constructive and that the more feedback I get, the better. Now I happily invite comments on my newsletters, blogs, lesson plans, etc. I have become a much stronger intern because of the feedback I received (both negative and positive) from my supervisor.

My resume and linkedin account are much stronger because of this experience, and I am so glad to have had the opportunity to work for Penn State, and specifically the Center for Global Studies. My co-interns, lead intern, grad intern, and supervisor have all been amazing contacts and resources for me, and I hope to re-connect with everyone in the future. I am sure that because of this experience, all of us will have new opportunities for competitive jobs we may not have before. I have applied for an international State Department post, an international Humanity in Action program, and will apply to law schools with confidence that I will thrive.