Student view:

Kamryn Romano: It's a small world

April 22, 2020

Kamryn Romano is a junior in the Honors College studying journalism in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences and global and international studies in the College of Social Science. She is a media and marketing intern in University Communications.

This time last year, I was preparing for the global experience of a lifetime. I was as filled with excitement as my email inbox was filled with pointers for my study abroad trip to Rome.

I never thought that just a year later, study abroad programs would be canceled, borders would be closed and my inbox would be full of updates from my online classes and Zoom links.

Not only are the opportunities to learn in a classroom across the ocean on hold, but we can’t even attend class on our home campus.

As life around the world is flipped upside down, I am reminded of how lucky I am to have studied in Rome last summer and have had a life-changing experience in Israel through MSU Fact Finders.

Over winter break, I traveled to the mountain tops of the Golan Heights to learn about the Druze community, swam in the Dead Sea, ate meals in the homes of the West Bank and spoke to the person next in line for the presidency of the Palestinian Authority.

Fact Finders 

My passion for global learning was first ignited on an education abroad trip to Rome; MSU Fact Finders mission to Israel only intensified that love. Photo taken in Jerusalem, Israel.

By talking to people of multiple religions, walks of life, careers and perspectives, I learned more about the world, culture and society than any class could ever teach me.

Exploring Europe opened my mind to the idea that our world is a lot smaller than it seems, and Israel took my mindset a step further by showing me that places associated with conflict are much more than what is shown in the news.

I stood on a mountain that overlooked Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, and wondered why these places seemed so foreign to me back at home. This inspired me to continue learning about the beautiful country that fostered these realizations.

As I became enthralled with international affairs, I had no clue my next travel learning experience was just around the corner. Over spring break, I seized the opportunity to attend the America-Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington D.C. with 15 other MSU delegates and 18,000 strangers — 2,000 of them being other passionate university students.

I heard from the presidents of Colombia, Serbia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Vice President of the United States, the Prime Minister of Israel and so many others with fascinating stories about the tragedies and triumphs of Israel.

The stories all led back to the same message: Our world can’t function without positive relations with one another — something we are finally realizing during this crisis.

I never thought that days after my return, feeling motivated and inspired, the world would be shut down due to the coronavirus. I went from feeling like I was ready to change the world to feeling helpless. The knowledge we were supposed to bring back to campus stayed in my journal.

But because I had these opportunities to learn about division and unity, cultures and people, what I’ve experienced bears more weight than ever. The world is in need of positive relations, and a willingness to help each other.

MSU has presented these opportunities that I am proud to have taken. Within the span of months, I got to visit the capital of my nation, the capital of Israel and the capital of Italy to learn about and advocate for peace.

Colosseum

Italy was the place that inspired my passion for international affairs and steered my career path towards international reporting. Photo taken at the Colosseum in Rome, Italy.

Israel opened my mind and made me realize how interconnected we all are.

Now, we must look to places like Italy that issued stay-at-home orders, and places like Israel that sent planes to China to pick up masks that were delivered right to Detroit, Michigan, when no one else would.

I’m lucky to have made connections with these places, and now it’s time for our whole nation to form positive connections across the globe.