Staff Friday: Christie Meno

Every Friday, the International Studies Department will profile one of our amazing faculty (or staff) members so you can get to know them better and see all the amazing work our faculty and staff do!

Christie Meno is the Graduate Administrative Director for the MA in International Studies (MAIS) program. In this role, Christie supports all of the program’s outside-of-the-classroom functions, such as recruitment, admissions, orientation, professional development opportunities, student socials, and addressing any ongoing student concerns. Christie proudly hails from a small town in upstate New York (Sidney, New York) and joined the intrepid International Studies Department in January 2016. Before taking this post, she worked most recently at New York University in New York City where she was part of the department of Residential Life and Housing Services. Christie studied political science as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan (Go Blue!) and received her Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration and Student Affairs from the Peabody College of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University.

Christie’s professional interests include the dynamics of college student transitions and especially the first-year experience, particularly among first generation and low income students; college access and equity; and bridging the in- and out-of-classroom experiences to create seamless living-learning environments. To expand her knowledge on the first-year experience, Christie spent a summer as a National Orientation Director’s Association (NODA) intern at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. Given her role at USF, Christie has shifted her focus to facilitate college access and success at the graduate student level.

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At the Great Wall of China

Christie’s professional career started at NYU where she worked with the Faculty Fellows program helping to coordinate on- and off-campus events with faculty and students. Her work in this field led to her giving several successful conference presentations. Christie then transitioned roles and worked closely with student leadership and development, overseeing the student staff training and ongoing professional development for NYU’s nearly 400 residential student staff members. This role took her all the way to Shanghai where she helped develop a training course for NYU’s residential life student staff at the NYU Shanghai campus.

In addition, her passion for increasing student access led to her involvement with the iMentor program in New York City which pairs professionals in the community with high school students as they work toward graduation and admission into colleges. Since arriving at USF, Christie has enjoyed applying her various interests into a new arena in her work with graduate students. Finally, Christie is also an instructor for the USF 101 course, a class designed to introduce new students to the USF mission and what it means to study at a Jesuit, social justice-oriented institution. This role allows her to enjoy the best of both the undergraduate and graduate student experience at USF’s beautiful campus.

In her non-working hours, Christie spends her time exploring SF by way of restaurants, museums, music venues, and walks through SF’s diverse neighborhoods. Christie loves traveling, mostly recently returning from a two week adventure in Thailand, and is a lifelong skier excited to explore the mountains of the West. She is passionate about cooking new dishes, Jackson Browne, finding San Francisco’s best Bloody Mary and scoop of ice cream, and obsessing over Michigan football (whose games often begin at 9am on the West Coast; hence, the Bloody Mary search…). While she is a definitive New Yorker at heart, Christie feels the pull of California more each day, and couldn’t be happier for the opportunity to work here in the International Studies Department.

October in Review

The semester is officially past the halfway point and the holidays are fast approaching! Take a moment to look back at October, and check out how the International Studies Department packed this month chock-full of opportunities to for our students to learn outside the classroom. In between studying for midterms, IS students relaxed at socials, lunches, and speaker events.

dsc_0013October 5- How I Got This Job Series (Abby Rubinson)
To start off the month, IS hosted the first installment of the “How I Got This Job” Speaker Series, featuring Abby Rubinson. Abby spoke to students about her own experiences working in non-governmental organizations focused on human rights and the environment, and provided some valuable tips on developing careers in non-profits. Number one on her list? Be flexible. Flaunt the diversity of your skills as an International Studies student, and show employers a willingness to go the extra mile in everything you do.

dsc_0122October 10- New Student Lunch: Study Abroad
Our final New Student Lunch this semester was a hit, and our adept group of Peer Advisors each shared their Study Abroad stories with new students looking to integrate real-life international experiences into the major. This lunch also highlighted all the different ways students can study abroad during their time at USF, whether they’re on a budget or crunched for time! New students left the lunch confident about the option to study abroad in ways that work best for them.

img_7836October 13- Game Changer with Omer Ismail
Our Fall keynote speaker was Omer Ismail, the co-founder of the Darfur Peace and Development Organization. Omer has worked with international relief organizations promoting human rights for over thirty years, and is the current Policy Advisor at the Enough Project. Omer discussed the work of The Sentry, an initiative founded in conjunction with the Enough Project to fight the facilitation of genocide and mass atrocities in the African continent through the use of legitimate networks of international finance and trade. Students and faculty engaged in a lively discussion of legal tools that could be used to prosecute international human rights offenders.

October 18- San Francisco State University Graduate Recruiting Fair
October also means recruitment is picking up for the MAIS program! This month, Administrative Director Christie Meno and Program Assistant Amanda Mitchell headed out to Merced for the annual graduate fair at San Francisco State University, and the San Francisco Idealist Fair. We also held an on campus info session and are pumped up to continue recruiting exciting new minds to contribute to our Masters program.

Oct 26- Human Rights & Environmental Justice
International Studies was made proud by the outstanding work of our faculty this month, and a big shout out goes to Professor Brian Dowd-Uribe for his participation in a panel discussion sponsored by the 11th Hour Project and USF’s Environmental Management Program. This event focused on the panelists’ work on building community partnerships to create more just, equitable, and sustainable development in sub-Saharan Africa. In an inspiring parting note, moderator Joe Sciortino, Executive Director of The Schmidt Family Foundation, called upon USF students to engage in this important work by mastering advocacy skills and community organizing to enact meaningful change from the ground up.

 

Finally, a big thanks to everyone who participated in and contributed to International Studies events this month. This the wraps up our October debrief, and look out for the next one at the end of November!

Staff Friday: Jenny Alcivar

Every Friday, the International Studies Department will profile one of our amazing faculty (or staff) members so you can get to know them better and see all the amazing work our faculty and staff do!

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Jenny and (ahem) MATTHEW PERRY, Calabasas, CA.

Jenny Alcivar is currently the Program Assistant for the undergraduate major in the International Studies Department. Growing up in Virginia just outside Washington, D.C., Jenny dreamed of moving to California to work in television. During her second year of college, she met a researcher on The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn, who helped her get an internship on the show that summer. While continuing her college education at Santa Monica College, she interned for a commercial/music video production company while working part-time in Beverly Hills. Following graduation from SMC, she got a job at Hand Prop Room, which supplied props to movies, television shows, commercials, music videos, and even the LAPD during a counterfeit money sting operation!

All good things come to an end, and eventually, the shine of LA and working in television wore off, so Jenny decided to change her career path. While hunting for schools to study marine biology, she took a spontaneous Labor Day weekend vacation to the Bay Area. After spending a few foggy, colds day in the outer Sunset, she fell in love with San Francisco- Karl had snagged another one! Six months later, she was attending San Francisco State University to finish her bachelor’s degree, ultimately deciding to major in history and minor in political science.

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Jenny, center left, and the SF State delegation to the Sacramento Legislative Seminar.

While at SF State, Jenny found her nerdy niche, twice attending the Sacramento Legislative Seminar and becoming the secretary in the Political Science Student Association. The latter responsibility led her to co-chair the planning of the political science graduation ceremony, giving her skills that would later come in VERY handy. Her notable research projects included “Representation and Revolt: Peasants as an oppressed majority in medieval England,” which discussed how the rise of education among the peasant class led to a rise in revolts and a demand for rights and “Commission vs. Legislature: There Is No Silver Bullet,” a comparative case study on the methods of redistricting and the rise of partisanship. Told you it was nerdy.

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Communications team at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The summer between her junior and senior years, she went back to DC to intern on Capitol Hill for the communication department at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). She quickly figured out that she did NOT want to be a professional political operative (it was not as fun as The West Wing made it seem), but she did get to meet Rahm Emmanuel, currently the mayor of Chicago and then-Chairman of the DCCC, and was instrumental in sending at least one corrupt congressman to jail.

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Jenny and friends on the Brooklyn Bridge (the perks of living in Jersey!)

Following graduation from SF State, Jenny pursued her interest in political science, specifically gender and representation, so with the help of a mentor, she applied to graduate school. After being accepted to her top choice, she made the difficult decision to leave San Francisco to move to New Jersey and attend Rutgers University. She quickly realized that graduate school was not for her and ultimately left the program. She moved back to the DC area the following year, working at CD/DVD/vinyl manufacturer. Though she loved being closer to her friends and family, she missed San Francisco! Luckily, her mentor heard that a new job was being posted at USF, and Jenny’s next career path, this time in higher education, began right here at USF.

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Jenny and friend overlooking the River Thames, London.

In her spare time, Jenny loves traveling, listening to podcasts and compulsively Instagramming her food. She’s been to 44 of the 50 states (missing only Alaska, Hawaii, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Michigan) and driven across the U.S. seven times. She obsessively loves the San Francisco Giants, particularly first baseman, Brandon Belt. Jenny also enjoys reminding people that the Giants first started their World Series winning streak after she returned to San Francisco. Coincidence? She thinks not! Her favorite places in the world (besides San Francisco) are Disneyland, Vancouver, Manhattan, and London.

Next up on Jenny’s travel list is Ecuador to explore her father’s homeland and Australia to fulfill her dream of petting a wombat.

New Courses for Spring 2017

Are you ready for registration for next semester? International Studies is excited to announce our new courses for Spring 2017! Stay tuned to myUSF for the release of the full course schedule for spring to get all the details about class times and locations.

Undergraduate Courses

  • BAIS 390-01: Conflict Resolution and Mediation
    Prof. Laleh Shahideh

    Conflicts occur when there is a gap between mutual understandings, whether between individuals, groups, or states. This course will examine why these gaps arise, and how to diminish them before they escalate to dangerous levels – whether that is a fist-fight, legal battle, or war. Students will explore conflict and mediation from both traditional and emerging perspectives by studying peace-building attempts and using examples from local and global situations. In particular, this course will examine the different ways language can be interpreted and how the power of language can influence outcomes. Students will gain a better understanding of their own conflict styles; how to successfully approach conflict on different levels; and, how to anticipate, prevent and de-escalate spiraling conflict situations both within their own communities and on a global scale.
  • BAIS 390-02: The WTO, World Bank, and IMF: International Financial Organizations, Global Politics, and Development
    Prof. Sana Onayeva

    The aim of this course is to introduce students to the activities and role of international financial organizations like the World Trade Organization, World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund, as well as regional organizations, in global politics and development. The course will introduce students to structures and functions of these global financial organizations, as well as the fundamentals of international trade, investments, and their relationship to global politics. It will also address the key issues and challenges in international trade and global finance that are faced by advanced countries, developing countries, and post-communist states. Furthermore, the interdependence of domestic economies will be examined through a prism of the world financial crises that have resulted in rethinking and redesigning the system of international financial institutions. Finally, the course will cover the alternative dispute resolution and other mechanisms that States and other international actors use in resolving transnational disputes.

Joint Undergraduate/Graduate Course

  • BAIS 390-03/MAIS 690-04: Human Rights Advocacy Skills
    Prof. Dana Zartner
    This 2-unit course will provide upper division undergraduate and graduate students with grounding in some of the key skills used in advocacy, non-profit, and NGO work. With a particular focus on human rights, students will discuss the role and purpose of advocacy for instituting change. Students will spend most of the semester working on individual and group projects to develop skills in grant writing, budgets, advocacy plans, law and policy advocacy, targeted writing and speaking, and visual and social media advocacy. This course will require a series of short, practical assignments that students will compile into an e-Portfolio that can be used when applying for jobs and internships.

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Graduate Courses

All MAIS students select two electives, in addition to enrolling in one section of Research Methods & Thesis Writing.

  • MAIS 690-01: Global Food and Water Security
    Prof. Brian Dowd-Uribe
    Food and water insecurity are two of the biggest challenges facing humanity in the 21st century. The goal of this class is to study the actors and approaches to address these challenges particularly as they relate to justice and sustainability. Our survey of actors and approaches is rooted in a historical analysis of how food and water security have been addressed in the past, and how contemporary efforts are shaped by neoliberal economic reforms, climate change, consumption patterns, technologies, institutions, social movements, geographies and geopolitics. We will explore specific case studies from Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. A particular focus of this class will be on formulating strategies to address these challenges.
  • MAIS 611-01: Development & the Environment
    Prof. Christopher Loperena
    What is development? What are the key ideas underlying development practice? How have contemporary global phenomena—neoliberalism, climate change, and urbanization—reconfigured the aims of development? Ideas about how to “do” development rest on a number of assumptions that have their roots in both contemporary and historical economic thinking. These ideas profoundly shape the policies and practice of international financial institutions, such as the IMF and the World Bank, thereby creating particular kinds of policy priorities. Evaluation of development policies and programs often tend to operate within these existing paradigms, rather than asking the larger question: Why is it that we do what we do? This seminar will look at the field of development studies from an interdisciplinary perspective and evaluate the kinds of policies that have been pursued by governments, agencies and practitioners in the pursuit economic growth, poverty reduction, and climate change mitigation.
  • MAIS 612-01: Politics of Conflict and Peace
    Prof. Stephen Zunes
    This seminar explores the political, economic, social and environmental factors associated with transnational conflicts and assesses different approaches to conflict resolution and conflict transformation. Readings will include both theoretical approaches and a number of case studies. Each week, students will write short reflections on the readings and discuss the material covered in a seminar format, interspersed with occasional short lectures by the instructor.
  • MAIS 690-02: Refugees, Forced Migration, and Displacement
    Prof. Lindsay Gifford
    This class will broadly examine issues related to refugees, forced migration and displacement from a global perspective. We study the rights of refugees in international law and the institutional structures that have been developed to address refugee and related issues. We examine issues surrounding urban refugees, camps, protracted refugee situations, stateless and displaced persons and intensifying conditions of economic and environmental displacement driven by climate change. We take a critical perspective on refugee and forced migration studies, examining the contours of identity in displacement, refugee agency and activism, the efficacy of so-called “durable solutions,” and the realities of resettlement in countries of the Global North. We also discuss research ethics and practice in working with populations who have experienced trauma and displacement.
  • MAIS 690-03: Infrastructure as Ethics
    Prof. Lucia Cantero
    This course will look at infrastructural projects throughout the globe to consider the relationship between built environment and political economy. The readings will survey the spatial politics of institutions like shopping malls and gentrification in urban spaces, global development and mega-events like the Olympics and the World Cup, a politics of patrimony via UNESCO heritage conservation projects, competing politics around energy and resources like oil, water pumps and rationing, hydroelectric dams. We will also consider everyday media, the internet and advertising as a form of soft infrastructure for the circulation of visual culture to think about the politics of consumer culture.
  • LAW 700: Comparative Law and Judicial Systems
    Prof. Dana Zartner
    This course is being offered by Professor Zartner through the law school. Only MAIS students who are writing their Thesis or Applied Project on a topic incorporating comparative legal issues will be eligible to take this course as one of their electives. If you are interested, please contact Professor Zartner.
    This seminar explores the relationship between different cultural and historical conceptions of law, the legal institutions which develop from these cultures and histories, and how this development shapes both domestic and international legal policies of states in the world today. Law maintains a central role in every society in the world and the best ideas are often not fully possible until supported by law and policy. Yet, law and policy don’t often fulfill their aims in protecting rights, promoting justice, and maintaining order. In this seminar, we will address these issues, with a focus on understanding how institutional and cultural differences concerning the law have an impact on individuals, groups, and states themselves. In the end, this course will give you a better understanding of different legal traditions, which can greatly facilitate working with people around the world.

Staff Friday: Amanda Mitchell

Every Friday, the International Studies Department will profile one of our amazing faculty (or staff) members so you can get to know them better and see all the amazing work our faculty and staff do!

amanda-blogAmanda Mitchell is the Program Assistant for the MAIS program within the International Studies Department. Amanda is a Northern California Native and received her BA from USF in Theology and Religious Studies with a minor in Public Service and Community Engagement. During her undergraduate degree, Amanda found contemplative practices in all religious traditions to be fascinating and specifically studied the role of spirituality in social movements. Her BA thesis focus on Feminist, Indecent, and Liberation theologies and was titled, “Rebels of Normality, Revolutionaries of Theology: An Analysis of the Efficacy of Divine Love in the Movement of Liberation Through the Methodologies of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Marcella Althaus-Reid”. Amanda had the longest title in her major and was quite pleased with that accomplishment.

While at USF, Amanda worked as an Advocate for Community Engagement (ACE) and managed collaborative partnerships with organizations to facilitate service-learning experiences. As an ACE, Amanda worked with a nonprofit after school enrichment program in the Western Addition for disadvantaged youth called Magic Zone. She later work with Upward Bound and supported local High School students create pathways to college who were first-generation or low-income.

Wanting to gain an international perspective on community engagement, Amanda became the first Global ACE Fellow in the Casa Bayanihan program located in the Philippines, attending Ateneo de Manila. During her time in the Philippines, Amanda also work at L’Arche Punla, an international federation of homes for the developmentally disabled. At L’Arche, Amanda learned more from the amazing individuals who lived there than in any other environment she has encountered. She also got very good at making paper products out of grass while working with the core members in their livelihood workshop.

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Amanda is also passionate about advocating for the rehabilitation of incarcerated populations and spent 4 years volunteering in the San Francisco Juvenile Hall counseling incarcerated youth. After graduating from USF, Amanda participated in a fellowship in Sacramento and worked at the Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC). At the BSCC, she worked with the Facilities Standards and Operations division and assisted the team with the inspection process for California juvenile hall facilities and county jails. Though she enjoyed her fellowship, Amanda was ready to move back to San Francisco which lead her current position in the International Studies Department.

amanda-blog-3In her spare time, Amanda enjoys gardening, cooking authentic Mexican food, and long-boarding through Golden Gate Park. One of her many hobbies includes building things and up-cycling furniture. She and her father are in the process of starting a business for woodwork and tiny homes. Lastly, Amanda’s spirit animal is a Golden Retriever and she identifies as a Golden Retriever/ all dogs enthusiast!

MAIS Internship Spotlight: Briawna Gillespie (’16)

This week, we’re chatting with MAIS student, Briawna Gillespie, about how she completed her internship requirement this summer.

20160706_140948Q: Where were you interning this summer?
This summer, I had the pleasure of having two internships. The first was with the Women’s Institute for Freedom of the Press (WIFP), a women’s organization that works so women in media have the freedom to express their opinions on issues they care about. The other was with Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation, an organization that helps to promote awareness and provide education to the public about female genital mutilation.

Q: What sort of work were you responsible for at each internship?
At WIFP, I took on a multitude of tasks. I was responsible for updating directories, helping organize events, and a few other interns and I worked together to design whole new logos and creative flyers to re-label the brand. I also attended a series of events all around the city for WIPF.

For Global P.E.A.C.E., I was primarily in charge of finding grants and brainstorming ideas for events. I was given an amazing opportunity to design a social media campaign for the organization to raise awareness about female genital mutilation. I had to come up with a budget, slogan, branding, and a litany of other details in order to bring this campaign to life.

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Q: Are there accomplishments that you are particularly proud of?
Definitely. At WIFP, the most important thing I accomplished was a presentation I gave in front of a large group of students, authors, and government representatives who were just as excited to learn about issues that women face in media.

The social media campaign I mentioned for Global P.E.A.C.E was ultimately very rewarding as well. As a result of my efforts and dedication, the president of the organization loved my ideas. Currently, the president is in the process of pitching that campaign to the board of directors so it can be launched and active by 2017.

Q: After working at these organizations, what have you gained from those experiences?
These two internships have allowed me to complete things that I never thought I would do, and ultimately allowed me to grow professionally. With enthusiasm and determined effort, I was able to bring my visions as an intern to life. Plus, the friendships and connections that I’ve made this summer were absolutely amazing, and those are definitely experiences that I will carry with me for the rest of my life and future career.

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Faculty Friday: Stephen Zunes

Every Friday, the International Studies Department will profile one of our amazing faculty members so you can get to know them better and see all the amazing work our faculty do!

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Stephen Zunes is a professor of Politics and coordinator of Middle Eastern Studies. Since first coming to USF in 1995, he has taught courses on the politics of Middle East and other regions, nonviolence, conflict resolution, U.S. foreign policy, and globalization for the Politics department, BAIS, MAIS, and the minors/concentrations in Peace & Justice Studies and Middle Eastern Studies. He received his BA from Oberlin College in 1979 and spent his first few years after college in Philadelphia, Washington and Boston working various odd jobs for pay while engaging in political organizing and free-lance journalism.  Eventually, he received his MA from Temple University in Political Science in 1984 and his PhD from Cornell University in Government in 1990. Prior to coming to USF, he served on the faculty at Ithaca College, Whitman College and the University of Puget Sound and directed a small policy institute in the Seattle area focusing on U.S. Middle East policy.

Currently, Professor Zunes serves as a writer and senior analyst for Foreign Policy in Focus (part of the Institute for Policy Studies), an associate editor for Peace Review, a contributing editor of Tikkun, and a member of the academic advisory council of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict. He is the principal editor of Nonviolent Social Movements (Blackwell Publishers, 1999), the author of the highly-acclaimed Tinderbox: U.S. Middle East Policy and the Roots of Terrorism (Common Courage Press, 2003) and co-author (with Jacob Mundy) of Western Sahara: War, Nationalism and Conflict Irresolution (Syracuse University Press, 2010.)

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A prominent specialist on U.S. Middle East policy and strategic nonviolent action, Prof. Zunes has presented numerous lectures and conference papers in the United States and over a dozen foreign countries. His travels have taken him to 75 nations, including trips to the Middle East and other conflict regions, meeting with prominent government officials, scholars and dissidents, making him persona non grata in a number of authoritarian states. He has served as a political analyst for local, national, and international radio and television; a writer for the Huffington Post, Truthout, Alternet, Open Democracy, and Common Dreams websites; and currently writes a monthly foreign affairs column for the National Catholic Reporter and a twice-monthly column for The Progressive. He has also published scores of articles in academic journals, anthologies, magazines, and newspaper op–ed pages on such topics as U.S. foreign policy, Middle Eastern politics, Latin American politics, African politics, human rights, arms control, social movements and nonviolent action.

His consistent positions in support of human rights and international law have earned him the wrath of both the right and the far left and arguably receives more Internet hits than any USF professor, not all of them positive.

Since coming to USF, he has enjoyed a number of short-term academic appointments, including serving as a research associate for the Center for Global, International and Regional Studies at the University of California-Santa Cruz; a visiting professor for the International Master in Peace, Conflict, and Development Studies at Jaume I University in Spain; and, most recently, a visiting research professor at the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Otago in New Zealand.

He has been a recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship on Middle Eastern and Central Asian Studies at Dartmouth College, a Human Rights Fellowship at the Center for Law and Global Justice at the USF, and a Joseph J. Malone Fellowship in Arab and Islamic Studies, as well as research grants through the Institute for Global Security Studies, the United States Institute of Peace, and the International Resource Center. He was the recipient of the 2015 Dean’s Scholar Award from USF’s College of Arts and Sciences and, in 2002, he won recognition from the Peace and Justice Studies Association as their first Peace Scholar of the Year.

Professor Zunes lives in a cohousing community in Santa Cruz with his wife Nanlouise Wolfe and is the father of three children: Shanti (28), Kalila (25), and Tobin (23).

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Reflections from the Killing Fields

There are many opportunities for International Studies majors at USF to engage with a broader global community and put the lessons of the classroom into context and into practice.

img_5403The ERASMUS class is a year-long living-learning community in which the students delve into their understanding of ethics, service, and justice at local and global levels, discuss the material as a community, and directly apply information and ideas through various community-based research projects. At the end of the year, students have the option of traveling to Cambodia to further their understanding in a global context.

BAIS major Ali Buck participated in ERASMUS during the 2015-2016 academic year and made the trip to Cambodia in May and June 2016. Today, she recounts her experience visiting the Tuol Sleng prison and the Killing Fields where millions of Cambodians died during the campaign of the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s, and the impact both the experience and the International Studies major have had on her global perspective.

Student Reflection by Ali Buck (’18)

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Killing Fields memorial

I expected to be more emotional at the Killing Fields than at the S21 Prison Camp because I’ve studied various prison camps since I was young. Every year a Holocaust survivor came to talk at my school, so I assumed that visiting S21 would be just as hard as listening to the survivors talk. It was harder than anything I could have imagined. The woman guiding us through had lost her family in the building we were standing in. One room was lined with images of those who had come to the camp; some seemed to know they were about to die while others were either too young or too naïve to understand their fate. In Erasmus, we had spent the past semester learning about the Khmer Rouge, so I knew that children were killed and I knew the number of people that died. But knowing something and understanding it are completely different. I didn’t understand until I looked into the eyes of the photos that these people were dehumanized in the complete sense of the word. Every photo was eerily the same: the same haircut, the same facial expression, and ultimately the same fate. People were reduced to identification numbers, which became death tolls. Even now, each of those individuals is just part of the total number of victims of the Khmer Rouge.

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In my International Studies courses, I have struggled to comprehend how governments around the world can do such terrible things to their people or even how people can treat one another so terribly. The moment I finally understood that this was not old history, this was something that happened while my parents were alive, was the moment I broke down. The difference between learning about something in a classroom is than experiencing it in the world is incredible. It invokes emotions that lead to passionate actions, which ultimately lead to change. Some changes are large-scale movements that affect the world, while others are small internal changes that may just alter one’s perception of the world.

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That’s what drew me to USF: the allure of being challenged in the way I think about my place in the world. There is this constant discomfort that I have come to accept as growing pains. For me, this trip solidified my desire to study global politics and understand the world around me, and what I can and cannot do within it; the best way to understand the world is to see it. I am going to continue to travel to places that I learn about and learn about the places I want to travel to. The International Studies program at USF takes a holistic approach to understanding one’s place in the world. By approaching the world from a multi-disciplinary standpoint, I have been able to critically analyze the “how” and “why” aspects of the “who?” and “what?” questions.

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