Unsure of which path to take in life? Read below to discover how Ana Valverde, a fourth year law and international relations student, found her niche at IE University. Learn about how she made the most of our diverse student body, expert teaching, and one-of-a-kind opportunities to transform her dreams into reality.
Hello, my name is Ana Valverde and I’m a fourth-year student studying the Dual Degree in Law and International Relations at IE University. I can’t believe four years have already flown by and that I only have one more year to go until I officially enter the labor market. I’m lucky to have figured out that the areas of study I enjoy most are the Arab world, conflict resolution, and humanitarian law, and this is where I would like to dedicate my life.
So how did I discover my passion for these three particular fields?
When I joined IE University, I was sure I wanted to become a diplomat. In my first year, I was shocked and impressed by the diversity of the students in my class—some came from South Africa, others from the United States, some from Colombia, one from Australia, and there was also a girl from Norway. In total there were more than 20 nationalities represented in just my class!
It was then, in my first year, when I started exploring the conflicts that had arisen throughout the second half of the 20th century in a class called History of International Relations since 1945. I started to learn about the Israeli—Palestinian conflict in detail and it sparked an interest in me I never would have guessed would affect me so deeply and last for so long. It left me with so many questions so I decided to discuss them with my classmate and friend Sara, who is originally from Jordan. Our conversation opened my eyes to things happening all over the world that are barely covered in the news and I immediately wanted to know more about the situation.
That summer my dad recommended me the book Dispara, yo ya estoy muerto (Shoot Me, I’m Already Dead) by Julia Navarro. This book relates the Israeli—Palestinian conflict through the perspectives of two families—one Jewish and one Palestinian. The story starts with the pogroms against the Jews in the Soviet Union and finishes with the Israeli Declaration of Independence. Throughout, the book sheds light on how the social relationships between these two families change. While Palestinians saw Jews as occupiers, the latter felt rejected, especially after the Shoah or Holocaust. It was amazing to read about two sides of the same coin.
After that, I thought learning Arabic could help me in my future career so I signed up for Arabic courses at IE University. I was taking both French and Arabic at the same time for no additional charge since those who study International Relations must take one language course and we’re also offered another one for free in case we’re eager to learn more. It’s fantastic!
Then, last summer, I wanted first-hand experience in the reality that many refugees face trying to cross the Mediterranean, so I went to the Greek island of Leros. For a month I volunteered for an NGO called “ECHO 100PLUS” which was set up by the family of a girl in my Arabic class. This once-in-a-lifetime experience gave me the chance to meet people applying for asylum from Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, Congo, Somalia, and Iraq, with those coming from Gaza being the most numerous. It was an incredibly valuable experience to listen to and gain a personal insight into the stories of people fleeing war and oppression.
Finally, last semester I had the opportunity to do an exchange at Sciences Po in Paris. At the end of my stay there I heard about a trip that was being organized by students at the university—they were arranging an immersive trip to Israel and Palestine for future leaders in the political arena. I signed up and got selected. I couldn’t believe my luck! I had the chance to meet Israeli diplomats, politicians, businessmen, and Palestinian politicians and leaders. I visited the West Bank, the Golan Heights, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem. The trip showed me that what I had read about the conflict was true and I thoroughly enjoyed absorbing everything I saw and heard.
Right now I don’t know if I’ll become a diplomat or not but I’m glad that I’ve found a field that genuinely interests me. Either as a diplomat or an employee of an International Organization I hope that in the future I can make a meaningful contribution to peace-making in the Arab—Israeli conflict.