Meet Chris – He is a first year student in the MAIA Program where he is focusing on International Development and Latin American Studies. Here he tells us what brought him to Foggy Bottom and how his first year has gone so far.
I had always wanted to do a Master’s program in International Affairs since I was an undergraduate in Michigan at Grand Valley State University, but I took a rather long and winding road to get here as I kept refining what exactly it was that I wanted to pursue – from international business and economic development to diplomatic service, and finally, educational development, which is what landed me here at George Washington University.
I had interned with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s local Export Assistance Center as an undergrad and went on to working in sales after graduation. However, a little less than two years after graduation I made the decision to move to Peru to teach English. This, in turn, morphed into coordinating academic and intercultural exchanges – first in Peru, then in Costa Rica and Guatemala – and this is where my interests started to coalesce around promoting these exchanges and the value they bring.
From there, I knew the starting point for anything “international affairs” would be in Washington, D.C. – especially so when it came to intercultural and educational exchanges where there are countless NGO’s and government offices here involved in just that (In fact, I’m still able to teach English as a volunteer for a local NGO that helps immigrants prepare to take their naturalization exams). After that, I narrowed it down to George Washington University based on its faculty, the flexibility its International Affairs program offered someone like me, and finally its proximity to those NGOs and government agencies involved in international education. What didn’t factor into my decision at all – but I’ve been very pleasantly surprised with – was how many different things there are to do and places to go in and around D.C. – outside of the typical tourist loop. There are so many distinct neighborhoods within the District and, of course for me, an amazing range of restaurants all over the city. There are also countless community interest groups active around the city that you can join either professionally or just for fun. As for me, I am involved in some Latin American interest groups and language exchanges to keep up on my Spanish since moving back to the U.S.
For all the reasons I just mentioned, I couldn’t be happier I chose to study at Elliot – and in Washington, D.C. in general. The faculty is made up of both academics and practitioners and they are the ones on the news, giving talks both at GW and at various other organizations around D.C. and generally informing debates and shaping policy. The program itself lets me focus generally on both Latin America and Development while drilling down further in these areas into Central America & Mexico and Educational Exchanges in particular. Finally, for anyone not familiar with D.C., there are literally too many events from countless organizations for one person to go to no matter what their interests are – and they are almost all completely free. All of these factors make Foggy Bottom the easiest place in the world to get involved, get informed, and keep busy.