Professional Development: Career and Internship Fair

Event: Career and Internship Fair

Date: 9/18/2019, 12-4 PM

Location: Ohio Union


This month I attended the Career and Internship Fair in hopes of finding an organization that provided internships in the environmental science field. I spent most of my time at the booths for the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency so I could learn about the opportunities they provided for students in the Summer. The zoo seemed to have some interesting research internships where I could interact with the animals and learn about conservation initiatives. Working for the zoo would be an incredible experience and it would be a memorable summer, but I think the EPA had more positions that were suited towards my interests. After talking to the representatives from the EPA, I learned that they had a wide variety of internship possibilities ranging from environmental policy to measuring air and water pollution in Ohio. I plan to look through all of the available positions and apply to the one that interests me most, but it may not work out as I am going on a study abroad and have to take a Summer class as well.

The roles that I am hoping to fill within these organizations do have a connection to international affairs because environmental issues always have an international component. Despite these internships being more localized to central Ohio, the problems that are addressed are not unique to Ohio. Greater environmental issues like global climate change and its associated consequences are seen in changing weather patterns and its effects on the livelihoods of Ohioans, especially those that rely on agriculture. Ohio, along with the rest of the mid-west and many other parts of the world, feel the impacts of climate change. Not only are Ohioans affected by climate issues, but primary industries within ohio are some of the main industries responsible for greenhouse gas emissions. Coal mining and the use of coal for electricity is one of the main sources of emissions in Ohio along with transportation. I believe it would be beneficial for me to work as an intern in the EPA so I could learn more about the science behind understanding how environmental issues affect living conditions in Ohio, as well as the evaluation of policies regarding these issues.

Service Event: Community Commitment

Event: Community Commitment

Time: 8/24, 7:30 AM-1:00 PM

Location: Habitat for Humanity

To kick off the beginning of my second year at Ohio State, I decided to attend the Community Commitment event with some friends. At this campus wide event, hundreds of students went into the Ohio Union and were\ sent off to various organizations around Columbus to participate in service activities. The places people went to varied from the Olentangy Wetlands to Goodwill. My group and I were sent to the Columbus Habitat for Humanity. I wasn’t sure what we would be doing because I didn’t really know what Habitat for Humanity did and I always associated this organization with building houses. We walked in and saw aisles of furniture, wood, and other building materials that were for sale. Our leader greeted us and explained that Habitat for Humanity is essentially a Goodwill store and a Lowe’s combined. Instead of selling thrifted clothes and accessories, they sell thrifted furniture and tools. Learning that a store like this existed was good to hear because I know basic housing necessities are expensive. Being able to get these items for a cheaper price is very helpful for those who cannot afford to pay the full price at a store like Lowe’s. Our leader continued to explain the goals of Habitat for Humanity and how they impact our community.

When our volunteering began, we were informed that we would be smashing wooden pallets that they no longer needed. This was exciting as I had never destroyed something while volunteering. We did this for the two hours that we were there and let me tell ya I was very sore the next day. Although it was physically exhausting, I had a good time since I learned more about an organization I knew nothing of. I found it personally enriching to learn more about what Habitat for Humanity does on a local scale rather than just building houses. I would say this related to International Affairs because Habitat for Humanity’s goals include creating a world where everyone has a decent place to live. By having a shopping center where local Columbus residents can purchase low-cost materials, they are able to help people in our community achieve this goal of decent living conditions. Having locations all over the world allows Habitat for Humanity to reach out internationally and help improve the shelters of those who cannot afford the outrageous prices of housing materials.

Non-IA Event: “Syrian Trajectories from Damascus to Euroland“

Event: Syrian Trajectories from Damascus to Euroland

Date and Time: April 12th 4:00-5:30 PM

Location: Pomerene Hall


For my non-IA event this semester I attended the talk “Syrian Trajectories from Damascus to Euroland: Trans Mediterranean Assemblages” by Dr. Leila Hudson. In this talk, Dr. Hudson discussed her project in which she assisted a family that was trying to relocate from Damascus to Germany. Her talk was broken up into three discussion points of ethnography, family, and information assemblages.

When talking about ethnography, she talked about how the people she was helping were five middle aged, working class sisters and their families. Ultimately she ended up helping the youngest sister cross the Aegean with her children. Dr. Hudson pointed out how helping the women allowed her to see the perspective of women and  how their experiences as refugees are different compared to men. Women experience completely different obstacles and have to make different decisions especially in regards to family.

Dr. Hudson also talked about how she learned the importance of family in making the decision to relocate and how the journey can cause the family unit to deteriorate. She referred to the family as a tree that when uprooted shows the “fluid network of relationships”, but this tree-like structure falls apart to the point where these connections break down as the refugees get farther from home.

While traveling, it is necessary for refugees to have a cell phone that allows them to stay in contact with people they need along the way. Dr. Hudson showed a picture of one of the sons on the phone with the person that was smuggling the family to ensure the meeting time and place was correct. Information assemblages are very important for refugees to be in a state of awareness so nothing goes terribly wrong. She even mentioned how Facebook groups were important sources of information that allowed people to share things like locations of police checkpoints. It was interesting to hear about the importance of technology because I had never even thought about how refugees utilized this tool.

In the Q&A session, someone asked how Dr. Hudson dealt with the privileged position that she had when interacting with the refugees. She responded by saying she needed to control her impulse of wanting to “save” them by just buying a boat for them to get to Germany on her own. The family had to educate her by rejecting her offer and explaining that if she did that every other refugee family would want to get on the boat as well and soon she would be forced into the smuggling business just by sheer demand. So, instead of offering to help with big things, she participated in small acts of reciprocity. They provided her with food and information so she gave back with small actions like offering to mail heavy documents to them so they wouldn’t have to carry them the whole trip.

This lecture was interesting to listen to because it not only shared the story and obstacles of the refugee family, but it also provided Dr. Hudson’s perspective of a privileged outsider and the things she learned. As an International Affairs Scholar I think hearing both perspectives is important because as a privileged outsider myself, I do not have a true understanding of what these women and their families went through. There is a huge refugee crisis going on right now and when I hear about it on the news it feels as if the human aspect of it is diminished. When I heard about it through this lecture and learned about the obstacles of a specific family of refugees it made the issue seem less distant. I enjoyed this lecture because I’m used to hearing only the political side of the refugee crisis and Dr. Hudson’s story allowed me to hear about some of the barriers refugees actually face on a smaller scale.

Academic: Climate Change and Environmental Issue

Event: Climate Change and Environmental Issues Day 2

Time: 6:30-8:00 PM

Location: Hagerty Hall


This month I attended the two day event on climate change and environmental issues. Unfortunately I was only able to attend the event on the second day, but I feel I gained some valuable information regarding sustainability on a local level. I decided to go to this event because I am considering a career in environmental and social justice and I thought it would be an event that could educate me in this field as well as give me insight on potential jobs I could pursue.

In this event there were three main representatives from various organizations that are involved in the sustainability efforts in Ohio. One was from the Ohio State Sustainability Institute, another from one of Ohio State’s energy partners, and the other from the Ohio Sierra Club. I had never heard of any of these organizations so it was interesting to hear what role they play in climate change and sustainability efforts. Each person spoke about what their organization stood for, what actions they have taken to reduce the effects of climate change, and how their work takes them to Ohio State’s campus. Both the representatives from the Ohio State Sustainability Institute and Ohio State’s energy partner went into detail about how Ohio State is putting in effort to become more sustainable through aspects of campus such as new energy efficient buildings and transportation. I liked that they talked about this because it’s nice to know that my school is making efforts in sustainability. I take the Ohio State bus service everyday so it’s nice to know that they are not as harmful to the environment as transportation run only on gas.

The woman from the Sierra Club of Ohio spoke about a lot of things I’m interested and it made me want to get more involved in climate organizations around Central Ohio. She talked about how cities are responsible for 70% of carbon emissions and the Sierra Club’s goal to get the city of Columbus to commit to 100% renewable energy by 2050. To spread the word about their goals and the need for sustainable energy they have events around the community like neighborhood art shows, marches, and they have even hosted statewide training events for other cities to become more sustainable. At the end of her presentation she showed how we as students can take action by providing other climate organizations that we could join and offering volunteer opportunities within the Sierra Club. I hope to join one of these organizations to learn more about sustainability within my community in Columbus and further my education in environmental and social justice. I think it would have been beneficial to attend both days of this event to get the international perspective as well, but hearing what is going on locally did make the impacts of climate change hit closer to home. I am glad I attended this event because it introduced me to different opportunities around campus to become more involved in sustainability, as well as educate me on the actions Ohio State has taken to become more energy efficient.

Service Event: Martin Luther King Day of Service

Event: MLK Day of Service

Date: January 21, 2019 from 7:30AM- 1:00PM

Location: Ohio Union/Broad Street Presbyterian Church

This month I attended the Martin Luther King Day of Service with some friends. When we got there we were given shirts and food to get us fueled for our day. Once the commencement ceremony began, the main speaker talked about Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy and how each of our actions done that day within our community would help keep his legacy alive. He also talked about how this event was for Aretha Franklin as she was also an avid civil rights activist throughout her life. The service done on this day was meant to commemorate the message of love and care that both of these individuals spread. The ceremony was also filled with performances including rapping, choir singing, and dancing to hype us all up for the day. It was very uplifting and I felt even more ready to go out and work.

Once the introduction was over, we split off into our groups and were off on our way to our separate locations. My group ended up going to the Broad Street Presbyterian Church to help clean up and organize the church and do any other tasks that they needed us to do. When we got there they had various rooms that they wanted us to completely reorganize to make things easier to find in the future. I washed and organized the dish cabinets and helped sanitize the kitchen area. Unfortunately we were not able to finish cleaning everything in the short time we stayed in the church, but we did make good progress.

After finishing up at the church, our group sat together and discussed the experience we just had volunteering. Although this experience did not completely change my life, it did make me feel good knowing I did something helpful for someone else and that would enhance the experience that kids would have at the church. This experience helped me realize that even the smallest actions can make some positive impact on another in need. I never really thought about how volunteering connected to Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, but after hearing about it I’m now aware that just helping others in need is all about what MLK preached. I feel more inspired to continue this legacy and continue serving my community after this event.

Our group leader also talked about BUCK-I-SERV and encouraged us to apply if we want to continue our service endeavors. I actually applied for a BUCK-I-SERV trip after hearing so much about how fulfilling these trips are. I decided to apply for a BUCK-I-SERV in St. Petersburg, Florida to learn about the marine ecosystems in the region, help clean up the coastal areas, and remove any exotic plants. I felt that this trip suited my interests the most out because I have always been passionate about environmental conservation and I would love to learn more about the marine life in Florida. I am not sure if I am even going, but if I do get accepted, I hope to enhance the coastal community in some way to help the marine life that inhabit it as well as the people that live around it. Service has been a part of my life since high school and with this event I have become more inspired to continue serving my community in college and keep Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy in my life.


Non-IA Event: “Reassessing Ike: Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Korean War”

Event: Non-IA, “Reassessing Ike: Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Korean War”

Date: December 3, 2018 at 12:30 PM-2:00 PM

Location: Mershon Center

       For this month’s non-IA event, I went to a lecture about Eisenhower’s actions leading up to and during the Korean War and how this affected not only his eventual presidency, but the entirety of the Cold War era. The lecturer, Zachary Matusheski, is the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Agency Post-Doctoral Historian in Residence in the Department of History here at Ohio State. His work has contributed to the recovery of many missing American soldiers that disappeared during the Korean War, specifically The Battle of Pork Chop Hill. The lecture consisted of six main facts that allowed him to come a couple of conclusions: that Eisenhower’s life fits into a grander scheme of U.S. intervention in East Asia, throughout the war there was growing tension in military affairs (specifically between Eisenhower and MacArthur) impacted Eisenhower’s future, and that Eisenhower’s willingness to discuss nuclear weapons as an active option underscore how dangerous the last moments of the Korean War were. Eisenhower’s main beliefs that nuclear weapons should have been used during the Korean War and that Asia was vital to U.S. national security explained the basis of the growing arms race in the ‘50s and the subsequent Cuban Missile Crisis. The point of his presentation was to emphasize how important the Korean War was as a Cold War crisis which could have turned out very differently had nuclear weapons gotten involved.

       Before attending this lecture, I knew very little about the Korean War and only could remember bits and pieces from what I had learned from my U.S. history classes from high school. I feel like in school it is not something that my teachers placed much importance on so it was only glossed over when it was taught to me. Listening to this lecture made me reconsider the actual implications that the Korean War had on major future events like the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War, and just the Cold War in general. I thought it was interesting to hear about how this war played such an important part in greater world events. This relates to international affairs because the war itself and the events that emerged from the war are still relevant in international relations today. At the time it constrained the relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union, which laid the foundation for the Cold War and the present day suspicions each country has for each other. Also, the Korean War was settled with an armistice, so it is still technically happening, and tensions between North Korea and the Western world (mainly the U.S.) continue to grow. In recent years, this has become especially apparent as North Korea experimented with nuclear missiles. Nuclear weapons have continued to be a cause of many unfriendly relations in the world and the Korean War could be argued to explain this. Overall, I thought this lecture was an educational experience that has helped me learn more about the Korean War and the global consequences that came with it.

Service Event: Big Buckeye Lil’ Buckeye

Service Event:

Big Buckeye Lil’ Buckeye

October 22, 2018 from 4PM to 6PM

       This month I joined a volunteer program here at OSU called Big Buckeye Lil’ Buckeye. BBLB is student group that volunteers with the after school program, Healthy Asian Youth (HAY). This community program facilitates a space for academic and personal growth for anyone of any race, but more commonly the Asian youth. People of Asian descent are typically stereotyped to be wealthy and able to achieve constant success both in society and academia. Because of this stereotype, the Asian Americans that do not have the tools to thrive like this are often overlooked. This is why HAY and BBLB strive to provide educational, cultural, and emotional support for the Asian youth through the after school volunteering program. The volunteers and mentors of BBLB serve as role models that provide a supportive and empowering network for the kids to rely on. In addition to this, BBLB serves to educate the Asian youth in their cultures. Through monthly visits on campus, BBLB and HAY work together to create interactive programs that not only educate the kids on different Asian cultures, but also familiarize them with higher education opportunities at OSU. The at-risk Asian youth are largely ignored by society because many stereotype Asians as people who do not need help, when in reality that is not the case at all. It is important to make these kids feel valued and provide them with all the tools they need to be the best they can be.

      My first volunteering experience was on Monday, October 22 and I went to the Asian American Community Services building in Upper Arlington with a couple of other volunteers. The other girls that I was with had already been regularly volunteering on Mondays, so the kids already knew and loved them. It was heartwarming to see how happy the kids were to see BBLB volunteers and it was obvious that the girls had already made an impact on their lives. I had no idea what to expect, but I was excited to meet with the kids and learn more about them. All of the kids were fairly young and all had unique personalities. Even though I only spent two hours with them, I still feel like I learned a lot about each one just by the way they interacted with me and the other kids. Since I was a complete stranger to them, they kind of ignored me but I did make conversation with all of them and helped them with whatever homework they struggled with.

       About an hour in, some special guests from COSI arrived and demonstrated DIY science experiments with the kids showing concepts like potential energy, kinetic energy, friction, and states of matter. I wasn’t aware that this would happen, but apparently COSI comes in every Monday to show new experiments that teach the kids a variety of science concepts! I thought this was super interesting because it brings in a certain interactive and visual element of teaching that we as volunteers can’t really provide. Once COSI’s demonstration ended, we had to go back to campus and that is what concluded my first volunteering session. I truly enjoyed volunteering with the kids and I hope I can stop by at least on Mondays so I can build a stronger relationship with them.

       I joined BBLB because I wanted to get more involved in Ohio State student organizations and I wanted to find something that I could connect to my Asian culture and heritage. As a kid, I never really had a role model to help me understand my Asian background and teach me how to maintain my Asian identity while living in America. Although my mom tried to keep Japanese culture present in our house, it became increasingly difficult to find a balance between this and Western culture. I believe having a role model would have created a connection between myself and my Asian culture and that is what I want to build for these kids as a volunteer in this program. I hope to not only help them with their academic struggles, but I want to encourage the kids to embrace their cultural heritage and empower them in feeling confident in who they are. In addition to this, I hope that this program helps empower me in my Asian heritage. I would like to feel even more connected to my culture as well as Asian cultures other than my own. I think this first experience went very well and I am looking forward to volunteering more and possibly becoming a mentor in the future!

Study Abroad Expo

Academic Event:

Study Abroad Expo, Ohio Union

September 4th, 2:00-6:00 PM

       I have always been interested in studying outside of the United States so I decided to attend the Study Abroad Expo that Ohio State hosted. Before attending the expo, I already had a pretty good idea of which countries I wanted to visit and what I planned on doing there. Afterwards though, I came out with new opportunities that I had never really thought of. For instance, I never considered the Peace Corps but after stopping at the booth and hearing about what the program entails, I am genuinely considering it as an option for me once I am out of college. As of right now though, I am still primarily interested in traveling to Japan to become fluent in the language and learn more about my Japanese heritage.

       If I could design my own education abroad experience, I would do an intensive foreign language session in Japan so I can learn how to communicate with other Japanese people while I am there, and with my family when I am in more personal situations. I would want to be there for at least six to seven weeks just to learn the language and be able to apply what I learned in real life settings within Japan. Doing an internship sounds like it would be an amazing experience, but I still am exploring career options so I am not sure where I would even begin in looking for an internship that would be a good fit for me. What inspired me to pick this country was my Japanese background and my desire to become more in touch with this culture that I am so distant from. Another reason why I chose Japan is that Japanese is one of the critical languages defined by the United States State Department. Not only will learning this language help me in my personal life, but also potentially my professional life. I have considered many careers in departments such as global environmental policy or possibly a linguist so knowing Japanese would be beneficial for me. The other language I considered furthering my education in was Spanish since I took Spanish all throughout high school, but I decided that Japanese would be better for me to pursue sooner.

       I would want to be in Japan as long as I can afford to be there. If I am able to earn scholarships to fund my studies there, I would like to be there for a minimum of six weeks. I do think I will get homesick because I will be so far, and even now I occasionally get homesick just being in college twenty minutes away from my home. Although I definitely will miss Columbus, I also have family in Japan that I will be able to contact if I ever need a familiar face or need help with adjusting to the different environment. Overall, I am hopeful and excited for a study abroad opportunity sometime in my college career so I can learn more languages and broaden my opportunities for future professional careers.

About Me

Hello! My name is Erika Lisco and I am a first year undergraduate student at the Ohio State University. I am currently majoring in environmental science with a possible minor in Japanese. Some facts about me are that I am from Hilliard, Ohio, I love to travel, and I really enjoy kayaking! I’m considering many options for my career and I’m not too sure what I plan on doing, but I do know I want to take advantage of a study abroad opportunity and hopefully go to Japan during my college career. This blog will contain my reflections as a student in the International Affairs Scholars program and will showcase the different experiences I’ve had!