Sunday, April 29, 2012

Getting Close to the End

Today, I turned in my very last International Studies term paper.

The last of very, very many papers that I've written in the past four years.

I only have 2 finals left, but they are both online and for business classes that I am taking on the side. For all intents and purposes, I am completely done with my International Studies degree and will be the proud holder of a USF B.A. on Friday! I CANNOT FREAKIN' BELIEVE IT.

I've both whined and joked about aspects of my major this whole time. People all the time would hear what I study and go, "Gosh, I wish I could do that!" That always cracks me up because, well, you could. I love international organizations, current affairs, culture, history, language, trade, policy, law, and all the goodies that are stirred around the pot of classes one takes at USF in this program. I had fun watching movies from Soviet Russia, writing case studies on human rights issues in China, and learning how to write in Arabic.

The other day, I thought for a second about how many professors I've had that were from different countries, and was really blown away when I realized what a rich body of knowledge I've been drawing from. I've studied under teachers from: Japan, Puerto Rico, South Africa, India, China, Bulgaria, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Ukraine, Palestine, Ghana, Turkey, and Sweden. And the others have generally travelled all over the rest of the planet. Isn't it amazing to find out the perspectives of people from every other continent at school?

There have definitely been some grody moments in International Studies. I did not like memorizing the acronym-fest that is the IGO/NGO body. (Even that has acronyms, haha.) But if you ever want to know what the UN, UNSC, WTO, GATT, IMF, HRW, or MNCs are all about, hit me up! I was not thrilled at writing a paper on Thomas Jefferson's foreign policy objectives. That class was just evil. I almost fell asleep multiple times in American Foreign Policy, which was for 3 hours at night.

But the rewards have been so great. I've never doubted that I studied exactly what interests me most and fires me up about what I think it is important. I loved putting in the time and care to write a paper on Bosnian war crime tribunals for my Human Rights Class before I set foot there for the first time. My mind really came alive the times we had to formulate ideas on how to end conflicts, how to promote the rights of people all over the world, and how to celebrate the uniqueness of each culture on earth and find ways to interact as one humankind.

This major has had a hugely spiritual component for me. I get on a big soapbox about the idea of biblical, non-biblical, and abiblical things. There are things that the bible makes clear we should do and things we should not do, but there are many things that it makes no note of. So often, we ship a brand of Christianity around the world that has very American/Western instructions for setup. We make it seem like you must close your eyes to pray, that you must dress up for church, and many other traditions that rob us of the beauty of seeing other cultures embrace the purest nature of a relationship with Jesus, and experiencing his delight and joy in a way that culturally makes sense. I love that so many Asian churches all pray aloud simultaneously so that everyone can experience the cries going out to God at once! I love that so many African churches include dance as a form of worship! We Americans get so uncomfortable at such things... why? We are robbing others of seeing how God created their people groups uniquely and robbing ourselves of experiencing so many beautiful aspects of God's creation as human beings!

That seems like a tangent, but I am really passionate about this. And that drive really ties in with my huge interest in International Studies. If I could pick a dream job, it would be sharing the gospel with new residents of the U.S. I love international students and immigrant families. I hope that the Lord opens that door someday. :) But in the mean time, I have this sweet diploma to prove that I am all about the whole world and how neato it is!

I can't believe it's May of 2012. I'm sure more thoughts will come on this soon. But, in the mean time, go Bulls.

Love, Lara

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