Author: Gigi Speer, sophomore
The Senior Spotlight Series is an opportunity for Rose Hill Honors students to interview their peers in the Program and share the conversations with the broader community.
For this article, sophomore Gigi Speer interviewed Kristen Cain, a senior International Studies major with a concentration in the Middle East and North Africa.
G: Where are you from?
K: The Poughkeepsie area [of New York].
G: So I know that you were just abroad. Do you plan on travelling more?
K: I traveled abroad last spring in Morocco, which was perfect since I study both French and Arabic. It was my first time travelling out of the country. I got lots of practice interning at a refugee organization and teaching English classes, which was really cool. I just found out last week that I got accepted into the Peace Corps, so I’ll be in Morocco for another two years working in youth development, teaching English classes, running after school programs, summer camps, and depending on the area, running some female empowerment programs as well.
G: Was there anything from Honors that came to mind when you were in Morocco?
K: Having a small community of thirty people in the program and classes that all relate like our interdisciplinary schedule reminded me of Honors. The other students were mostly American and there was one other Fordham student, but some were from China and Germany as well.
G: Is there anything that you brought back that you really loved from Morocco?
K: I got really into their mint tea. Not just the tea itself, but the culture. Sitting and having tea with people is such a good way to get to know them. I’ve definitely been trying more Mediterranean stuff like couscous. I really didn’t know what I wanted to do before I went, and once I was there I got really interested in refugees, so I decided to write my thesis on it along with youth development and education. Most of the refugees are from West Africa and Sub Saharan Africa, and the government wasn’t really receptive to them; most of them were homeless or living in crowded apartments, whis is obviously not a great environment.
G: Are you still interested in refugee resettlement?
K: I’m interning at the International Rescue Committee, working in refugee resettlement, working with refugees coming into the U.S. They have offices throughout the country, and we help them their first 90 days, enrolling in food stamps, SNAP benefits, and trying to find apartments in New York. It’s not a great program, but its better than what they have in Morocco. I get to use my language skills, which is cool since I haven’t been able to practice since being in Morocco.
G: What will you miss about Honors?
K: I definitely like the community, especially freshman and sophomore year when we all spent so much time together. Every seminar class was people you knew, so you felt more comfortable talking to people.
G: Has there been any teacher that has had a big impact on you?
K: There’s been a lot of really good professors. From freshman year, definitely Professor McGowan. I feel like everyone says their Ancient Literature professor is the best, but he can truly make any topic interesting.
G: Do you have a favorite memory from Honors?
K: I loved going to the Classics Halloween party with my class freshmen year; I dressed up as Athena. At the same party, Devin D’Agostino came in a blow up T-Rex costume—which he’s worn multiple times—and put a Greek robe over it to be Oedipus Rex.