I am not one to offer any specific answer that is the answer, but it is necessary, in my opinion, to question why people are homeless, why children are dying by the thousands every day, why women are so abused and made into objects of pleasure, why men have always been the hierarchy and the example for everyone to follow, and why some people are just simply forgotten and cast aside. The ultimate question each of us should be asking is: how can I make a difference?
So here I am at Appalachian State University seeking two degrees in Communication Studies BS and Interdisciplinary Studies: Third World Studies, not simply to earn two degrees, but to acutely listen to other opinions on social issues, shape my understandings through each course, and to see where there is a connection between the Third World and Communication. My focus is on the link between these two very different studies. I hope to find a way to use human communication in order to make a difference.
My degree in Third World Studies through the Interdisciplinary Studies program offers a view of different courses to better profile why the Third World exists in the first place through a liberal arts sense. There are no courses that say “IDS: Why you should care about Third World Studies,” but rather areas structuring around specific regions of the world that are considered to be “Third World” and historical, geographical, political, artistic, and anthropological fields are offered in order to surround this idea of “what is Third World?” This requires a substantial amount of thinking and understanding on my part since no person is telling me what there is to do to change the negative political and social constructions of the Third World. Since I want to find this focal point for the two areas of study, this degree allows me to search on my own time and in my own way without giving me one specific way to think.
This links directly as to why I chose to go into the Interdisciplinary program - this freedom of seeking a different opinion and way of thinking. My question is why we cannot manipulate in a resourceful, practical, and dignifying way to create stability socially, economically, and politically in order to find a solution to poverty and the unjust treatment of victims of race, class, and gender. Is it possible or not?
This is how I plan to make a difference or, hopefully, some sort of change.
So how do I go about doing this? My course of study through the Interdisciplinary department was already somewhat planned out for me as I am taking the Third World Studies track, from which I choose specific classes in different categories already laid out. I am still managing my way through General Studies finishing core classes to graduate, but now beginning my track towards an Interdisciplinary degree is promising for what lays ahead in my coursework for the major.
Next year as a junior I plan to do a student exchange through International Student Exchange Programs (ISEP) to Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand. Several classes they offer for their international students (Thai culture courses) will take the place of most of the areas I specified earlier to meet my Third World criteria. These courses are Thai Art and Agriculture, Modern Thai History, Thailand in the International Arena, Society and Culture of Thailand, and Thai Media and Society. Seven courses have also been approved for my Communication Studies major as well, some being Communication Theory, Introduction to Communication Research, and Mass Media and Society. Taking these courses in a country so foreign to my own where I have no knowledge of the language will be a great challenge for me, but I feel it will add substantially to the goal I am hoping to accomplish by integrating these two areas of study. The courses will thankfully be taught in English, but aside from what I learn in the classroom, I feel by going out into the culture and experiencing a new way of living and thinking will be something I can always look back upon when considering anything foreign to me.
At Appalachian State though, I also plan to take World Music, political classes, historical classes, literature classes that pertain to my fields of study. It is exciting to get the opportunity for variety in life, particularly while studying, and look forward to my next few semesters at Appalachian State in terms of what I will learn and take from each course.
In terms of integrated studies, I feel like my two degrees I am working towards complete the idea of “integration.” Thus far, I have taken classes based on public speaking and the incentive behind mass societies, those courses being Public Speaking and Introduction to Mass Communication, while simultaneously looking at the spatial distributions of Latin American indigenous populations in Geography of Latin American and learning the basics of the Spanish language as previously mentioned. So far these have aided in my sense of what I want to do and how, despite such different subjects, everything can interlock in some way or other. The interactions and communication between foreign relations directly affects the people involved, creating the basis for my studies and what I hope to potentially get from both.
Overall, I anticipate what I will learn, but it is hard to get a good sense of what the outcome will be since I am still so young in my education process. The courses I look forward to taking are forthcoming, but I have gotten a good start in both of my fields and feel secure that I will be learning the things I wish to learn and take with me post-graduation.