“When I was younger, my mom would always say my first book that I loved was an atlas.”
For Emma Sampson, her passion for global education began at a young age. The now sophomore enrolled at UNC-Chapel Hill as a global studies major after she spent fall 2021 abroad in Granada, Spain through Carolina Global Launch – an intimidating decision for Sampson.
“It’s not what I had always pictured for my college experience,” she said. But after spending months behind a computer screen during the pandemic, Sampson was eager for a new learning experience. Carolina Global Launch is an opportunity for incoming first years to study abroad during the fall semester and then enroll at UNC-Chapel Hill in the spring. “I was really ready to go out into the world and grow beyond the classroom.”
Immersing herself in a new culture through Carolina Global Launch solidified her desire to pursue a global education. “When I studied abroad, that really grew my commitment and my passion to global learning,” she said. “I realized immersing myself in other cultures is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”
Sampson’s time in Spain accelerated her Spanish language studies. Before Carolina Global Launch, she had no prior experience studying the language. Now, she’s taking Spanish classes with students who have spent years getting to the same level. Sampson believes language learning is important for everyone.
“As the world becomes increasingly connected, it’s important to be able to converse with other groups,” she said. “I also think that it shows a form of respect and acknowledgment by speaking to someone in their native language. There’s a deeper amount of understanding there.”
In summer 2022, Sampson worked at a local immigration law firm, an opportunity made possible through the Global Studies Summer Experience Award.
“I got to learn a lot about different political and economic issues across the world that cause people to immigrate to the United States,” said Sampson. She employed her Spanish language skills in the internship as well.
“I feel that this gave me an advantage when I got back to my classes at UNC because I got real-world experience speaking and listening to Spanish from native speakers. This experience has also led me to taking a Latin American politics class because I want to learn more about the political situations our clients had faced.”
Through her global studies classes, Sampson has learned a lot about global issues, and she wants to incorporate problem-solving into her education as well, which inspired her to add a public policy major to her studies.
Sampson’s long-term career goal is to become a diplomat, a dream she started to seriously consider after engaging with Carolina’s Diplomacy Initiative, a program through the Office of the Vice Provost for Global Affairs. The initiative creates opportunities for students to apply their classroom learning at UNC-Chapel Hill to solving global challenges by practicing diplomacy skills and interacting with practitioners.
Sampson has attended all of the initiative’s Diplomatic Discussions, a speaker series that brings diplomats and other international relations practitioners to campus to discuss their work and engage with students in both public lecture and classroom settings.
“The series opened me up to different pathways,” she said. “I got to hear about the career paths of various ambassadors, and while they’re all so distinctly different, it really exposed me to what you could do.” Sampson said that by attending Diplomatic Discussions, she learned what it’s really like to work in international affairs. “I got to hear from real people, and I also got to feel their passion for their careers, which is motivating.”
Sampson will continue to learn about the world of diplomacy over spring break through the Diplomacy Initiative’s first-ever Washington Week. A group of 20 students will travel to the nation’s capital to meet global problem solvers, visit hubs of international policymaking and make lasting connections with other Tar Heels who share their global interests.
The opportunities Sampson has taken advantage of are part of the Global Guarantee – Carolina’s promise that a global education is available to all students.
“It’s a really significant commitment,” said Sampson. “Because I think no matter what your major is, no matter what you want to do, it’s important to get a global education. It’s so important to know about the world and about other cultures, to be more respectful, to have more cultural understanding and to be able to overcome boundaries and barriers. To really understand people.”