When I applied to COHA back in February, I emphasized how my previous coursework would heavily contribute to how much of an asset I would be to COHA as a Research Associate. And don’t get me wrong–it has. I’m good at researching topics, I have a background in a pretty wide range of issues and topics surrounding the region, and I feel like I contributed to the think tank overall. But, what’s even more important is what being at COHA taught me. Setting aside the professional experience that COHA has given me, the pure fact that I was reading and writing about Latin America all summer taught me so much that I might not have learned from a class.
It was a pleasure to “create my own syllabus,” in a way. I got to choose topics that interested me, and then research them to my heart’s content. And what’s more, I wasn’t learning for the sake of getting a good grade on a test or paper. You don’t have to do a summer internship (though I would, of course, recommend it!). For the first time in my life, I was learning because I wanted to learn. I wanted to grow and become more knowledgeable about topics that interested me. This is what higher learning is about. It’s about learning how to love learning. It’s about thirsting for knowledge and seizing opportunities to grow intellectually, without prodding from professors and parents.
I think what COHA has given me, above all else, is the gift of being an even more committed student than I already was. Beyond being interested in my classes and wanting to do well in them, I aim to look at every class this semester as an opportunity to expand and grow, both as a student and as a person. My “summer school” of endless research didn’t burn me out or turn me off to studying, but rather invigorated me. I truly feel like I’ll look at academics in a different way as a result of my experiences here. Instead of viewing education as a means to an end (for a future internship, career, skill set, etc.), I’ll think of my education as an ends within itself, where the goal is to learn simply for the sake of learning.
As I write these words, I really couldn’t be more happy that I’ve come to this revelation. My internship experience has truly been a rich one, and one I’m so incredibly glad I’ve had the opportunity to take advantage of. I’m grateful for the teachers who prepared me to be a good intern, my parents and the career center for the financial and personal support, and to COHA, for making my summer what it was.
And with that, I end my summer blog.
Until the next internship opportunity, in which I’ll probably be blogging about it again, have a good rest of your summer, dear readers.