Samantha Hernandez is originally from the Bronx, NY, USA and is of Honduran descent. She became interested in international relations during her undergraduate years, when she took a course focused on diversity and politics. Her interest continued to grow after she participated as a delegate for the Model United Nations conference in Washington D.C., which is where she also learned about the Global MA program.
Let’s meet Samantha and listen to her amazing experience with the GMA program at Webster University.
1. What is your current city, and what is your next stop in the program?
Currently, I am residing in Accra, Ghana and my next stop will be Bangkok, Thailand.
2. What has been your best experience so far in the GMAIR program?
The best experience I have had so far is being an intern at the Permanent Mission of Honduras while I was studying in Geneva, Switzerland. My internship exposed me to what it is like to be part of the United Nations community. I was able to present a speech in Spanish in front of the Human Rights Council. I was so nervous and honored to represent Honduras to all of the delegates! I am glad that I took the initiative to do an internship because it helped me network for future career opportunities.
3. Which city has been your favorite so far in the program and why?
My favorite city so far is Athens, Greece. It is difficult to explain the love that I have for this city! Not only was this the very first city where I learned how to live independently abroad, but it is the place where I truly evolved. I learned not to take things for granted and to be more positive. I was taught that there is no need to be stressed out and to learn how to trust yourself. In eight weeks, I was transformed into a better person. The culture, and of course the kebabs, are amazing. I really miss being there and hope to return soon.
4. What has been your biggest challenge as you adapt to different cultures during your travels?
The biggest challenge to adapting to different cultures is realizing that what I consider to be “normal” or “common sense” is not the same everywhere. I had to learn to step back, observe, and then analyze what is considered appropriate in a different culture. In other words, I have learned to be more culturally sensitive.
5. Is there any specific topic in international relations that has sparked your interest?
I have always held an interest in rural development issues. This has since evolved into a more specific interest in the role international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) play in reducing rural poverty. Thus far in my professional seminar classes, I have visited organizations where I am able to interact with the director and ask questions about how their organizations operate on the ground. Professor Nomikos, in Athens, also sparked my interest in learning more about terrorism, especially the impact on victims living in the war zones. I even wrote an article that is published on the Research Institute for European and American Studies (RIEAS) website about Yazidi women!
6. What are your plans for the future after you complete the Global MA program?
I am considering moving to Washington D.C and applying for a job at an NGO or the Honduran Embassy. My goal is to arrive in the Netherlands for my last term with a clear sense of direction on what I want to do. In the meantime, I want to take advantage of all the opportunities Webster is offering me academically as a Global MA student.
Thank you for participating in Webster’s Global Blog, Samantha! Continue doing the great work and keep us updated with your journey!