ASU student puts global studies major into action

January 31, 2019

As a global studies and linguistics double major, senior Karina Alonso has grown accustomed to learning about the world through her classes, her textbooks and her professors at Arizona State University. However, before graduation this May, Alonso flew to Thailand to spend a semester getting a more hands-on education where she could see the things she has learned in Tempe play out in real life.

Like all global studies majors, Alonso’s degree requires that she goes on one study abroad experience. Though studying abroad may appear daunting at first, it exposes students to new ways of life and helps them grow as individuals. This proved to be the case for Alonso. ASU global studies major Karina Alonso ASU global studies major Karina Alonso spent a semester in Thailand. Download Full Image

“I chose Thailand to challenge myself within a culture I knew nothing about,” she said. “This was also the first time I had ever lived on my own since I’ve always commuted from my parents' home since freshman year, so experiencing this level of freedom firsthand was something I’ve never done before.”

More than anything, Alonso experienced this freedom in the way her classes were set up. Rather than confining students to the classroom, Alonso’s teachers incorporated numerous field trips. When learning about Buddhism, one of Thailand’s primary religions, Alonso visited temples. She even went on a meditation retreat led by local monks.

“Having the ability to apply what we’re learning in class to real life was truly an extraordinary experience,” Alonso said.

Alonso’s field-based education wasn’t limited to urban areas. One memorable experience was a three-day hiking trip that took her through the vast jungles and rolling hills of Thailand. In addition to seeing bamboo and elephants, she had the opportunity to visit with hill tribes, whose remote location allowed them to develop a culture and way of life completely independent from the rest of Thailand. In spite of their isolated location, Alonso was able to find cultural common ground with these individuals.

“In a way, I felt more at home with the hill tribes because a lot of their beliefs and lifestyles are similar to my grandparents’ way of life,” shared Alonso. “My family is from a village in southwestern Mexico, so it was really interesting to see just how similar it was to a community on the other side of the world.”

Even if it wasn’t planned into a field trip, Alonso and her classmates were out and about participating in the community. For Alonso, who has been training for a TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) certificate, this meant teaching English to university students in Thailand. Knowing how difficult it can be to learn English, she found all sorts of ways to make the class entertaining for her students, using role-playing exercises and even short skits to learn simple phrases. Apparently, Alonso wasn’t the only one to enjoy the class time.

“After class they told me that this was not only the most fun they had ever had in their English class, but that they felt like they actually learned a lot that day,” Alonso said. “As a teacher, that’s one of the best compliments I could ever receive, and I’m now even more reassured that this is what I want to do.”

Though Alonso’s experiences helped her grow academically and strengthened her desire to teach, above all else, she said her semester changed the way she lives her life. Regardless of the class she was attending or the field trip she was going on, Alonso constantly heard the phrase, “mai-bpen-rai,” which roughly translates to “it’s no problem.” To Alonso, this was emblematic of the way in which locals take life as it is and understand that whatever happens is meant to be.

“I used to be that person that would outline every single detail of their life. I knew what I would be doing a day from now just as well as a year from now. Thanks to this experience, I learned to break free from that and truly let life just happen.”

To learn more about the 250-plus study-abroad programs in more than 65 countries offered at ASU, see the Study Abroad Office website. And attend various events to learn more about programs and scholarships.

Student Assistant for Recruiting and Marketing, School of Politics and Global Studies

New America, ASU to debut public affairs show ‘Innovating the Future’ on Arizona PBS

January 31, 2019

New America, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank, and Arizona State University are producing a new public affairs program on Arizona PBS that will explore public policy and how ideas can be used to shape a better world.

“Innovating the Future” premieres at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8, on Arizona PBS. Hosted by New America CEO Anne-Marie Slaughter, the program explores the intersection of new technology and public policy. Each week, Slaughter will interview experts to find out more about complex issues with the aim of improving the quality of democracy in America. Anne-Marie Slaughter New America CEO Anne-Marie Slaughter hosts “Innovating the Future,” a new program that explores the intersection of new technology and public policy. Download Full Image

Slaughter will cover a range of topics, including America’s promise of education, how sports can improve society and innovation in local communities.

“America is in fact renewing itself — creating new spaces out of old buildings in downtowns across the country, retrofitting and reinventing factories, farms, families, transportation, schools, and in the case of Arizona State University, higher education itself,” Slaughter said.

“It may be hard to see the outlines of a renewed America through the poisonous clouds of our national politics, but we will show them to you. We won’t sugarcoat our problems. On the contrary, we’ll confront them head on. But we will also be looking for the ideas that will allow us to solve those problems and the optimism and patriotism necessary to move us forward.”

Guests for the 19-episode season of “Innovating the Future” include New York Times columnist David Brooks, ASU Professor and former Washington Post executive editor Leonard Downie Jr., journalist and author James Fallows, New York Times journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, retired four-star Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, former Obama senior staff member Cecilia Muñoz and legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, among others.

Slaughter has published numerous books as well as more than 100 scholarly articles. She is a contributing editor to the Financial Times and writes a bimonthly column for Project Syndicate. She provides frequent commentary for both mainstream and new media and curates foreign policy news for over 140,000 followers on Twitter. Foreign Policy magazine named her to their annual list of the Top 100 Global Thinkers in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.

At New America, Slaughter leads the pioneering think tank that connects a research institute, technology lab, solutions network, media hub and public forum. Since 1999, New America has nurtured a new generation of policy experts and public intellectuals.

The show’s production team includes Peter Bergen, vice president for global studies and fellows at New America, CNN national security analyst and professor of practice at ASU; Fuzz Hogan, New America managing editor; and Mark Lodato, Arizona PBS associate general manager and Cronkite School associate dean.

Between them, they have produced hundreds of hours of award-winning television across a wide range of platforms, including PBS, CNN, HBO and National Geographic. Hogan and Bergen serve as the show’s executive producers.

Arizona PBS CEO Christopher Callahan, dean of ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, said “Innovating the Future” underscores ASU’s mission to improve critical social, technical, cultural and environmental issues facing communities.

“We’re thrilled to be providing our viewers with a new kind of public affairs show that confronts the challenges and opportunities in our society head-on,” Callahan said. “We hope ‘Innovating the Future’ adds to the public discourse in finding solutions to some of our country’s most critical issues.”