I had a conversation with a friend and fellow intern of mine the other day about how much more we feel we’ve learned in graduate school (two years) already than in undergraduate school (four years). I’m nearing the end of my first year, and I am amazed at the arc of my own understanding and progress within the broader International Studies field. If you’ve been reading this blog, you know I attended a private liberal arts school for undergrad and that I primarily studied English, French, and Spanish. I had a certificate in International Studies, which taught me a great deal, but my exposure to the current discourses–in Human Rights, in Development, in Security, and in International Affairs more generally–was pretty limited. After being at Korbel for just one year, I’m astounded at how much more I feel I know. I think back to last Fall and how nervous I was to speak up in class, and how (in some ways) unqualified I felt to make assertions or predictions or any kind of definitive statement about politics, the global economy, Africa, food security, anything, and I am really proud of how much more confident and assured I feel about what I know at this point. And I have felt the effects of my education not only on an intellectual or academic level, but on a deeply personal level as well. I’m sure I speak for many more of my fellow students when I say that studying this field impacts the choices you make in your everyday life and shapes how you interact with others. I am more aware of my purchasing power, and try to consciously avoid buying products manufactured or distributed by companies that I know have been involved in human rights abuses. For example, I won’t eat at Chick-fil-a (or however the hell you spell it) and I won’t buy Chiquita bananas because of the way they treat their laborers. I try to bike or walk whenever I can because it’s better for the environment, and I know that as global warming continues to escalate, the world’s poor are going to be the most affected–they will be the ones paying for our mistakes. It sounds silly, actually, as a laundry list of “good Samaritan” duties, but the broader point of how these things I’m learning are bleeding into my personal life is the one I am trying to make. It’s a good thing.
This upcoming week is Week 8, meaning it’s go time for real…Spring quarter is a little longer than Fall and Winter, so we actually technically have eleven weeks, ten of which are classes and one of which is finals. So I have three weeks to finish everything I need to do, and I am going to try REALLY hard to get it all done in two weeks so that I can have a week of vacation before my new internship, etc. begins. Things to do: 10-15 page paper on food security and nutrition in Ethiopia for my Health and Development class (already have about 5 pages). Subsequent presentation. Edit my section of the group paper for East African Development and Human Rights, and do a group presentation. Edit my draft of a paper on human rights regimes in India for Human Rights Research and Design, and write ten more annotations. 25 page paper on a TBD topic for International Humanitarian Law of Armed Conflict. Last bout of readings for class. I can TOTALLY do this. Thanks for reading, folks…happy almost summer!