This summer, I had the opportunity to participate in a wonderful Going Global class through Pitt's Global Studies Center. I met other teenagers with a similar love for learning about the world, gained exposure to the fascinating Arabic language, and enjoyed in-depth discussions about current events. Every morning, my classmates and I practiced moving our pencils from right to left across our notebooks, shaping Arabic words and learning how to pronounce the unfamiliar alphabet. By the end of the program, we could conduct a simple conversation and write our vocabulary in the newly-learned alphabet.
Besides the language class, we discussed global health, human rights, the environment, and geopolitics. Through debates, mock international conferences, and field trips, I gained a better understanding of issues such as the war in Syria and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On one particularly memorable day, we participated in a program hosted by Conflict Kitchen called The Foreigner. A college student put on headphones and acted as an "avatar" for Mohammed, a Palestinian man living in East Jerusalem. I got to ask Mohammed questions about life in Jerusalem, but it felt like a face-to-face conversation because his responses came via the college student sitting across from me. It was a conversation I'll never forget.
Every day brought new discussions and exciting challenges. Our class visited sites around Pittsburgh ranging from City of Asylum, a refuge for exiled writers and artists, to the Warhol museum, where we saw the art of Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei. I finished the class better informed about global issues and more excited than ever to discover the world. I feel fortunate to have had the chance to participate in such an eye-opening program located just a few blocks away.