Where are they now: Isabella Castro
My time serving as a program intern at Global Ties Miami was one of the most rewarding and enriching experiences of my academic career. I interned during the Summer of 2019, which was my freshman year summer. I had just taken my first international relations class, and while I was attending UCF as an International and Global Studies major I had yet to figure out where I was headed in my career.
Upon entering my internship, I knew very little about the International Visitor Leadership Program or the work that was being done with Global Ties and the Department of State. I was very eager and excited to learn more about international relations and cultural diplomacy on the individual level, and my summer internship more than exceeded my expectations. During my time at Global Ties Miami, Anette and the entire GTM team welcomed me in and allowed me to participate in planning and coordinating IVLP programs from beginning to end. Being able to see these programs through from the beginning not only allowed me to understand the structure of the IVLP but also educated me on region-specific issues and that I had yet to hear about. What I found most rewarding from my experience was connecting our international visitors with local Miami corporations and leaders.
I had always seen international development as such a large scale and daunting task but interning with GTM taught me that change begins in our own communities. There are so many local leaders and non-profits in our area that are successfully addressing global issues and even UN Sustainability Development Goals. One of my favorite programs I worked on was Combating Trafficking in Persons, particularly because as a Hispanic female of immigrant parents, I have been aware of the severity of human trafficking in Latin America. However, in developing this program I learned of various Miami organizations that not only combatted human trafficking but focused on survivor care and human trafficking prevention through education. Watching IVLP participants learn from these organizations and take the knowledge and resources they gained from the program back to their communities really solidified in me a passion for cultural and public diplomacy. It is interpersonal connection and shared life experiences that lay the foundation for effective and sustainable humanitarian development, and the work GTM does to connect people and emphasize the importance of their cultures and their stories is an impactful and significant example of diplomacy at its best.
My time with GTM inspired me to focus my education on diplomacy and pursue a career in the Foreign Service as a Public Diplomacy Officer so that I can continue to support programs like the IVLP abroad. I am so grateful for GTM, the work they do, and the care they have for their team and their visitors. Serving as an intern with GTM gave me an in-depth look into cultural diplomacy and real working experience and interactions with the programs and the visitors themselves.