All Global Studies students are required to participate in at least two Connecting Experiences as part of their BDP work. Students are strongly encouraged to pursue at least one Connecting Experience abroad. Take a look at what some International Studies students have done recently for their BDP Connecting Experiences, then read on for additional information and resources.
Majors: History, Government
Type of Experience: Research, Global Youth Connect
Mentor: Sheldon Eckland-Olson, Sociology
How did you find out about this opportunity?
I found out about Global Youth Connect (GYC) through a newsletter.
Describe the work you did with Global Youth Connect.
Both the Rwanda and Bosnia programs emphasized social justice, activism, and reconciliation specifically catering to youth within the context of human rights and development. Each program combined educational workshops, volunteering, and homestays in order to provide experiential and hands-on learning. Some specific activities we did were a 3-day conflict transformation workshop with local youth in Bosnia, grant-writing for a local NGO, interviewing detainees and advocating on behalf of their rights in western Rwanda, and assisting with the annual report for a Rwandan NGO.
How did this experience connect to your BDP?
My BDP is Global Studies (International Conflict strand). My experience connected directly with my BDP because I worked in two post-conflict areas and engaged directly with the history and subsequent progress made in light of those countries’ genocidal pasts. My hands-on experience in post-conflict societies directly influenced the ways in which I wrote about the material, engaged current events, evaluated academic works, and spoke about them in both formal and informal contexts. I did not travel to Bosnia or Rwanda in order to do research in the sense of working in archives or conducting formalized interviews. Instead, I approached each opportunity as if the very society within which I was operating functioned as my template for research.
In what ways has this CE shaped your plans for the future?
My experiences in Bosnia and Rwanda have fundamentally transformed my outlook on life, my belief systems, the way I treat others and maintain relationships, and the way I engage in work, and they have equipped me with a stronger capacity of being able to live in the moment. To me, this is invaluable in and of itself even if it doesn’t lead to a career in development work or humanitarianism. I currently work as an admissions counselor for UT-Austin, and my story has served as an inspiration to others, most notably when I was featured in President Powers’ commencement speech at graduation. I love engaging passionate students, especially about something that I am passionate about: the innumerable and invaluable opportunities provided through higher education and the University of Texas at Austin.
There is no “list” of possible Connecting Experiences to choose from — because Connecting Experiences are designed to fit your own personal interests and goals, the “list” is as long as your imagination and creativity allow. With that in mind, here are some of the internship and research experiences International Studies students have had in the past. They might help you get started brainstorming what you might want to do for your Connecting Experiences.