#GOINGTOIEU

11/12/2019

Sofia is a first-year Bachelor in International Relations student at the campus in Segovia. Alongside other first-year Bachelor in International Relations and Dual Degree in Laws + International  Relations students, Sofia has set up a new campus group to support the UN’s 2030 Agenda of reaching the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Unlike much of the IE University community, I’ve lived in one place my entire life: Silicon Valley, California. Packing up my life and moving over 9,000 kilometers away was not an easy decision. However, I’m now nearly done with my first semester of IE University and I’m confident I made the right decision.

I chose the Bachelor in International Relations because I have a strong passion for foreign languages and the connections formed between different cultures. When I was five years old, my parents began sending me to Greek School. At such a young age, I struggled to see the importance of this extracurricular activity. It was only when I began studying for my fluency certificates from the Greek Ministry of Education that I appreciated the courses. The power of language and culture was unlocked for me.

Living an entire ocean away from my grandparents in Greece robbed me of the opportunity to connect with them. Through Greek School, I was able to call my grandparents and learn about the rich history and culture of Greece.

I always struggled with my mixed background and “choosing” a culture to identify with. My mother is half Vietnamese but my father is fully Greek, making me a mix of two very different worlds. IE University is one of the first places in my life where I am no longer forced to pick a side, but rather embrace my place as a global citizen amongst students who are just like me.

Within Bachelor in International Relations, I plan to pursue a concentration in the “Governance of Emerging Technologies and Innovation,” something unique to IE University. Being from Silicon Valley, I’ve grown up with an affinity for new technologies and, to quote IE University, “driving innovation”. Next semester, I’ll be taking part in a “Digital Skills for Success” seminar that I’m sure will help me in such a sector.

IE University’s flexible schedule has allowed me to waste no time in diving headfirst into extracurriculars. Along with my university fellowship, I currently serve as class delegate. I’ve worked on implementing a new app for our class to communicate, upload documents, and share various study resources. I am also a club coordinator for Rotaract, a large service club on campus. My favorite extracurricular, though, is serving as Vice President for the new Sustainable Development Goals Club (SDG).

The SDG initiative was started at IE University by a group of first year BIR students. Together, we created a club from the ground up in the first month and a half here. Our mission is to support the UN’s 2030 Agenda through the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

As students, we’ve been working with Borja Santos Porras, the Executive Director of Undergraduate Programs. One of the beneficial facets of IE University’s culture is the ability to be so close to your professors and administration. Borja has been key to our success as a group thanks to both his connections and genuine concern for how we proceed as a club.

While we’ve only been an officially Campus Life recognized club for less than a month, the group has wasted no time getting started. We hosted a launch event at EL Saxo bar in Segovia, run by IE University alumni. We gave a presentation to over 25 attendees about our mission and vision and then proceeded to host a fun hour of cocktail networking. That same weekend, a group of students gathered outside IE University, in pouring rain, to donate their time to pick up trash. The team filled up two dumpsters full of trash from a natural area in Segovia next to IE University campus. We plan to make these Segovia clean ups a monthly installation.

Along with the IE School of Global and Public Affairs, we were able to attend and moderate the first UN Speaker Series. Our guest was Natalia Galat, a senior staff member at the UN and a visiting professor for the IE University’s Master in International Development. She spoke on the prospect of a new, 21st-century UN and what the organization needs to do in order to adapt to its new environment. Students interested in working at the UN were able to ask questions about how Natalia got to her position and the steps students should take. The UN Speaker Series will continue throughout the year with the support of the IE School of Global and Public Affairs.

The same week, the coordinators of the club traveled to the campus in Madrid to give an info session to a group of students interested in starting their own chapter. SDG has already gained so much traction at IE University that the Madrid chapter is nearly ready for launch and the master’s students have begun to ask about beginning their own chapter.

One of the main principles of SDG is our Public Google Drive, with complete documentation, minutes, and photos of everything the club works on. The drive is viewable to both campuses, uniting the community and allowing Madrid students to take part in what’s happening here in Segovia. Moreover, club members can add ideas to the club Drive that coordinators will work their hardest to make happen. The Segovia clean ups actually came from an idea that a member uploaded to the Drive.

Aside from skills like communication, team collaboration, and technology literacy, SDG has taught me that IE University truly cares for its students. The university has been nothing but supportive of our efforts and is working hard to make as many of our ideas a reality as possible. The close connections with professors, diverse student body, and flexible schedule has allowed SDG to take flight. The club would not be where it is today without the encouraging and individual spirit of IE University.