Experiential Global Learning Student Spotlight: Aicha Ly

Aicha Ly is a recent graduate from Eastern Connecticut State University, and spent her final semester embarking on a virtual Experiential Global Learning opportunity. Her program of choice: Virtual Study in Madrid!

Aicha Ly, a recent graduate from Eastern Connecticut State University

Tell us a little bit about your experience with Experiential Global Learning. For starters, why did you choose a virtual program in Madrid?

I chose the program I did for various reasons. First, they deal with matters relating to poverty, gender inequality, environmentalism, and international relations (connecting with Mozambique and the United States from Spain). Secondly, it is virtual which allows me to have an international experience while enjoying making memories and connections domestically in my last semester of college. Thirdly, my supervisors and I predominately speak Spanish which is great practice.

I am the president of the Human Rights Club at Eastern CT State University. Also being a political science major and a modern languages minor, who is interested in building a career in international relations, this program was right up my alley. I am also used to Caribbean and Mexican Spanish, so Spanish from Spain has been an interesting change for me that I am learning from. While Spanish spoken anywhere is mostly the same, Spaniards use terms such as “vosotros” that are unique to them.

Of course, every country also has a unique culture, and I don’t really know many Spaniards. So, this has been a great learning experience that improves my global citizenship and expands both my connections and perspective.

What did you gain from the experience?

From this experience, I gained more international connections and perspective. I gained more interpersonal skills and improved my foreign language and improvision skills.

What unique Experiential Global Learning opportunities did you encounter during your virtual study?

A unique Experiential Global Learning opportunity I have encountered during that time is being able to connect with a global organization while remaining in the US.

What would you say is your most memorable moment from the trip?

I think my most memorable moment was my first meeting with my supervisors. They really created a welcoming atmosphere and showcased all the projects they have instilled in Mozambique that have actually led to long lasting, positive changes that empower the locals in their rural lifestyles while respecting and improving the environment. They also set the stage for giving me a lot of autonomy that allowed us to collaborate in establishing what ways I could be the most helpful while having a fun and enriching experience that accommodates my skills and schedule. Working with Azada Verde is exciting because I feel that I am part of an organization that really is doing their part in changing the world for the better, starting in Africa.

How has Experiential Global Learning helped you to understand and appreciate your program's field of study?

Experiential Global Learning has helped me to understand and appreciate my program’s field of study by really showing me how interdisciplinary and diverse international relations is.

Are there any tip(s) you'd give for future students participating in a program or those who are just starting to think about an experience?

Two big pieces of advice I’d give other students are:

1.) Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Your supervisors and/or partners are there to give you answers or point you in the right direction to get some so you can gain the most our of your program experience.

2.) Find ways to immerse yourself in other cultures, not just the work that you do. This is even possible in virtual programs. Make conversation with the people you are working with from other countries about their culture while sharing about your own. Make very attempt to speak mostly in their language(s).