Recently, we had the opportunity to reflect with Abigail Williams, a senior preparing to graduate this May, about her time at NC State and her pursuit of the Global Perspectives Certificate.
Double majoring in Spanish Literature & Language and Social Work with a minor in International Studies, has given Williams ample opportunities to incorporate international learning into her time at NC State. We were curious as to what value Williams feels the GPC has added to her collegiate experience?
“My majors and minor are very internationally oriented and are geared towards getting an international experience, but the GPC offered me a chance to kind of slow down and reflect on all my experiences,” explained Williams. “If you are like me and also very active and do a lot of [co-curricular] activities, the GPC helps by breaking down the requirements into really manageable elements that can help you plan.” On a more personal level, she notes “I think if you understand the world better, you can understand your community better. It has helped me better understand not only my own experiences, but also other people’s, and it’s given me a wider perspective.”
Throughout her academic career, Williams has taken several internationally focused courses for the GPC as well as for her majors and minor, but we wanted to know if there was a class or particular lesson that really stood out to her.
Thinking back to her freshman year, Williams recalls her time in Frederico Freitas’ HI 216 Latin America Since 1826 course. “I really liked the class because it was based in history and did not feel whitewashed. It was very updated and current, and Dr. Freita did a great job of providing an in-depth yet approachable view of Latin American history.” Williams explained she was able to connect what she learned in HI 216 with other parts of her academics as well “as a Spanish major it also helped me connect Latin America in my mind to some of the things I was studying. It also helped me fulfill a General Education requirement.”
History 216 Latin America Since 1826 currently can be used to fulfill the Global Knowledge and Humanities GEP requirements for most students. Additionally, the class can be used to fulfill the GPC’s African, Asian, Latin American Studies course requirement.
To complete the GPC students must also engage in internationally-focused activities, service, and experiences outside of the classroom. NC State offers a wide range of opportunities for international engagement. We wanted to know what clubs, events, or organizations helped Williams to internationalize her time at NC State.
As the current vice-president of Voluntarios Ahora en Raleigh (VOLAR), Williams was excited to discuss the impact the organization has had on her. “VOLAR is a student lead organization on campus. We help connect NC State students who are studying Spanish and connect them with non-profit and government agencies in the community that need translators. It has been a great way to get connected with your community and practice your Spanish all while providing a really meaningful service.” She explained one of the organization’s signature events is its participation in the La Fiesta del Pueblo, hosted annually in downtown Raleigh. “It’s the largest celebration of Latinx people and culture in the area. We did not get to participate in it this year, but I know everyone is already looking forward to when we’re able to do it again.”
The GPC also requires students to participate in an international experience abroad. For Williams, this was a Study Abroad program in Chile in the fall of 2019. As she reminisced about the course work she was able to complete while abroad, notably, she took three classes which helped her improve her Spanish language skills and one class in English on the history of human rights in Chile. This last course in particular, helped to give her some insight and background into major civil and social issues within the country. During her time abroad, Williams explained large-scale protests took place throughout Chile in response to a government decision to raise the Santiago Metro’s subway fare, increased corruption, and other inequality issues prevalent throughout the county. She noted it is interesting to reflect on her time in Chile given the current climate in the United States as well.
Finally, the GPC asks students to consider how they can connect lessons learned from their coursework, activities, service, and international experiences to how they envision their future. For Williams, the connection is directly related to her studies and her time spent supporting the Latinx community through her time in VOLAR. “I’m going into the social work field, and I would like to work with the Latinx population in North Carolina. I would like to use my bilingual skills to help families in my community.”
The Global Perspectives Certificate is an academic certificate program open to all degree-seeking undergraduate students. It encourages and rewards students for pursuing their international interests. For students interested in pursuing the GPC or learning what value it can add to their degree, please visit our website.