Katherine Mesa: Miami as Text 2023

Photo by Katherine Mesa CC/4.0

France can be considered the cornerstone of human rights and the historical hub for political and cultural revelations. This once in a lifetime opportunity to travel to France will not only be a culturally enriching experience, but will also be intellectually enlightening. When I was first accepted into the Honors College at FIU, I was immediately drawn to their unique study abroad program, so to see this dream finally embarking is very exciting. However, while thrilled to partake in this journey, I am also filled with much apprehension and nervousness, which is expected with spending a month in another country on a study abroad trip. However, despite the nerves, I anticipate this experience to be very rewarding in terms of my personal growth as it is pushing me out of my comfort zone. In addition, this will allow me to broaden and deepen my knowledge in the field of human rights.

In terms of my current knowledge about France, it is very surface level, which makes me excited to engage in this opportunity. With regard to its historical significance, France played a crucial role during World War II, and I look forward to diving in depth to gain a better understanding of its relevance during the war. In addition, in reference to France’s position in the field of art, I look forward to visiting the Louvre to gain a deeper appreciation of art’s role in cultural immersion.

France is a true juxtaposition of a history of hardship with growth and beauty. I believe the flower above truly symbolizes the multidimensional growth that comes from France’s dark past, yet expansion towards a hopeful future. I also believe that this can be applied to the significance of human rights education and its application to where we as a society, can prevent further atrocities and human rights violations. This flower can also be manifested through a different lens, as I view it to symbolize my own personal growth as I embark on this journey.

Given that my academic concentration is in Civic Leadership and Human Rights, I am interested in seeing the intersection of how human rights are manifested in policy, and how this has evolved over time. In particular, how the end of World War II led to the monumental establishment of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In terms of my career aspirations, I want to work in the non-profit sector focusing on issues such as human rights, so I look forward to this experience being very rewarding as I will be able to directly apply my knowledge and experiences into the real world.

Growing up, my family has placed great emphasis on the value of traveling, and I have always been grateful and blessed to have the privilege to do so. However, this particular trip will be a unique experience for me as it is like nothing I have participated in before. While the transition into the trip might be challenging at first, I can stay grounded, knowing how much I will gain from this experience with my peers.

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