Sophomore Year Reflection on the G.O.A.L.S
- Global Awareness
Funnily enough, my global awareness thus far has developed most significantly by what I was unable to do. I had planned to use my STEP money to participate in a study abroad trip to London in May of my sophomore year. The trip would focus on human rights and activism in a city with a heavy refugee population. It would look at the life of a refugee from any number of angles–economically, politically, culturally–and would examine the ways in which the rhetoric utilized by those in power to describe refugees dictates public opinion. I had hoped it would allow me to obtain greater diversity of thought, that it would force me to think in ways that I hadn’t, that it would put me in situations outside of my comfort zone. And yet its cancellation, and more importantly the reason behind it, led me to a deeper understanding of the web of interconnectedness upon which the world rests. It helped me see more practically the idea of globalization that I had only discussed theoretically in any number of my Spanish classes, or in my Comparative Studies class. Going forward, I still hope to have the opportunity to study abroad, and I hope to continue to take classes which challenge and change my worldview.
- Original Inquiry
One of the most interesting and unexpected means of bolstering both my capacity for research and my interest in it came by way of a class in data visualization. Prior to taking that class, I had understood the world of statistics and data collection in general as necessary evils to be suffered through by one hoping to pursue a career in politics. I knew certain polling methods would have to be important, and that I should understand a thing or two about margins of error. But this class, beyond giving me the tools to obtain and present data effectively, offered me the chance to research subjects I care about. The class’s final project asked us to investigate an area of politics that interested us and to create a visualization which would either affirm or negate our derived hypothesis regarding our chosen topic. I was able to look at, and quantify, the perceived polarization of the Supreme Court. It helped me see the value of research in any field. Further, it gave me a data-based approach to an argument I had previously been making on reason alone. It is my hope that I can continue to apply the research techniques and visualization tools I learned in this class in any career I ultimately pursue.
- Academic Enrichment
From a practical standpoint, degrees in English and in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, with a minor in Spanish, will be useful for almost any career I choose after graduation. The ability to reason, to communicate clearly and effectively, to consider multiple points of view–all of these skills will be useful in law school, in graduate school, or in any other pursuit. But more importantly, these fields of study are teaching me how to think. I am learning, through the PPE major, the ways in which a seemingly singular issue cuts into facets of life of which I previously had not considered. Indeed, it seems as though a baseline expectation for the major is that students will become comfortable with challenges to the paradigm through which they typically view the world. This, too, is where the English major and the Spanish minor complement nicely. The capacity to think is paramount but ultimately feeble should it fail to be supported by a sense of competent articulation. The Spanish minor, in addition to offering me entry into a world different from my own, offers me a global perspective through which I might view the occasionally abstract principles I study in the PPE major. A class in Political Economy and International Relations, for instance, can become all the more powerful when coupled with a class on national unity in Spain, and still more powerful when added to a literature class which emphasizes texts written by authors from developing countries. These fields of study offer me a holistic approach to tackle any issue, and in an age where nuance appears to be disappearing from our national discourse at an alarming rate, I can think of few skills more important.
- Leadership Development
The most recent opportunity I’ve had to develop my capacity for leadership is that of interning with a re-election campaign at the state level. I have been tasked with leading the Fundraising Team, which consists of five other interns. It has been this experience, more than any other, which has shown me what makes a good leader and what makes a bad leader. I know the importance of being a member of the team even as you try to lead it, and I know that being excited about even the most boring of spreadsheets can make a difference to how the team responds to the task put before them. This internship has also reminded me of the power of politics. Every week, we make phone calls to voters. And invariably, every week, at least half a dozen people feel compelled to tell me their life story and all the ways certain policy decisions have either helped them or hurt them. I think it’s easy to forget, in all the theory of politics and policy, that the decisions made in all these old white buildings have an immeasurable impact on people’s lives. Reaching out to voters has been a perfect reminder of the gravity that comes with being a steward of the public’s trust. Another leadership opportunity came when I joined a team in the spring to help a primary candidate; just prior to the university’s closing, I had signed on to be part of the club’s campus outreach team, where we organized flyering and chalk events. This experience taught me a great deal about the value of simply showing up, of caring about something, of being willing to do the work that no one really wants to do.
- Service Engagement
In the past, my service activities included focusing on social justice causes as a CRS Ambassador. I also joined the Ohio State chapter of Amnesty International. Most consistently, however, my opportunity for service engagement came as a tutor at the GEMS school through the Adopt-A-School program. Every semester since my freshman year, I have gone once a week to either help out in a teacher’s classroom or to work individually with kids, and as soon as the school reopens, I plan to continue with this service. I find it not at all hyperbolic to say that this experience has changed my life. As a tutor, I’ve seen what it’s like to have one teacher who is trying her best but who simply doesn’t have all the resources she deserves to have to provide for her students. I’ve worked with kids who were having trouble focusing because they hadn’t had breakfast. But I’ve also seen students who show up everyday excited to learn. This experience has not only reinforced my belief that education can be the answer to any number of society’s problems, but has also reminded me how much work remains in the fight for such an answer to become a reality.