No puedo hablar español fluido porque mi madre no me enseñó. (I can not speak Spanish fluently because my mother never taught me). My mom and her entire family are from Bogotá, Colombia, which means that half of my family speaks Spanish (some only speak Spanish). Meanwhile, I only speak English. All through middle school and high school, I tried to learn Spanish to be able to communicate with my family but I never became proficient. That's why I was excited to learn about The Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts, lovingly referred to as ‘CISLA’, at Conn. CISLA is one of the five academic centers on campus; it focuses on the globalization of citizenship through language fluency and study abroad opportunities.

Two seniors, Shaniqua Shaw and Elizabeth Lewis, introduced me to CISLA. Shaniqua told me she rediscovered her love for Spanish by applying to CISLA. Study away in Barcelona added to her global understanding and enhanced her international relations major and Hispanic studies minor programs. “It has also strengthened my desire to become an immigration attorney,”  she said. Elizabeth, who is a gender and women’s studies and Hispanic studies double major, worked with an organization in Chile called La Red Chilena, which works to fight violence against women. She said the funded internship opportunities through CISLA “allowed me to work with La Red Chilena contra la Violencia hacia las Mujeres, where I was able to apply my passions for women's rights, strengthen my Spanish, and learn more about the culture surrounding me.” Elizabeth hopes to work as an attorney dealing with immigration and women’s rights.

After learning more about CISLA, I was convinced that I should apply. The centers all have a different application process. CISLA’s application is focused on a proposal paper in which you describe yourself, why you are interested in CISLA, your ideal internship, and your senior integrative project. The senior integrative project describes the culmination of your time in CISLA and where you focused your research, which integrates your major/s, minor/s and language. This project can be a thesis or an independent study. This may seem like a lot to plan as a sophomore but I was consistently reassured that the proposal in the application is not concrete, and many CISLA scholars change their projects slightly or significantly based on new things they have learned.

CISLA is interesting to me because it would give me the tools to combine my major and minor, while learning my family’s language and traveling out of the country for the first time. And, I hope to once-and-for-all master the Spanish language.