Through study abroad opportunities and service learning trips, senior Ivana Rosas has seen many countries including Nicaragua, El Salvador, and France. Rosas, an international studies major focusing on the environment and development, considers herself a citizen of the world.
Born in San Cristobal, Venezuela, Rosas’ family moved to Los Angeles when she was five years old. Her family returned to Venezuela frequently and of these visits she remembers, “I would spend time with my cousins, aunts and uncles. We would celebrate birthdays. I had my first communion there.” Adjusting to her new life and learning English was not difficult for Rosas. She said, “I was in an ESL kindergarten class. My teacher spoke in English all the time. I don’t have recollections of [learning English] being really hard.” At her parents’ insistence, Rosas spoke only in Spanish at home so she could maintain her native language. Today she listens to music in Spanish and also speaks with her parents and cousins in Venezuela to keep her Spanish sharp.
Rosas studied French in high school and continued to take courses at USF. In the spring of 2008, she studied for a semester at the Catholic Institute of Paris in France. By the end of the semester, she was fluent. Rosas now speaks three languages and is learning a fourth: Portugese.
Of the study abroad experience, she said “I really enjoyed feeling like a foreigner and being completely lost to my surroundings, regaining a sense of self, making my own niche in a different society and discovering what it means to be a global citizen.”
Through a liberation theology course, Rosas was offered the opportunity to travel to El Salvador to observe firsthand how liberation theology was affecting communities. Within a few months of this trip, Rosas again boarded a plane for Central America. Last summer as part of a service learning based project, Rosas interned at the Foundation for Sustainable Development in Nicaragua. She worked with a women’s environmentalist group that sells products made from recycled paper, specifically working on marketing and internal management. “The knowledge I gained was how to do more with community organizing and questioning what is development and taking it further by asking what is sustainable development especially in “third world” countries,” Rosas said.
After she graduates in December, Rosas plans to continue her work at the Global Women’s Fund, where she is part of a team that receives fund proposals from different organizations, like the Central America Women’s Fund. After taking a year off, she plans to apply to graduate school to study urban planning or architecture. She said, “Studying space is so interesting and the relationship that humans have with space and their surroundings, both manmade and natural.”
Rosas holds her world traveling experiences very dear and strives to maintain her global citizenship, which to her means “being aware that while we may have our own identities be they multicultural or not, we are all responsible for our own existence and we have to be aware of and respect others’ right to exist as well.”