International Relations and Spanish Personal Statement

Connecting with different countries and bringing people of different backgrounds together is something English people often overlook due to our Anglocentric view of the world, which, to me, has always seemed absurd.

As an avid follower of international news, I was captured after hearing about a fire that broke out during a prison riot in Valencia, Venezuela, killing 66 inmates and 2 female visitors. A thread of systemic problems such as lack of funds and gang presence in these overcrowded prisons means that cases like these are all too familiar to the people of this politically corrupt country, and after having studied Spanish in depth over several years, such events compel me to delve deeper into the factors influencing this political hysteria.

After a resultant gain in interest for these politically unprincipled methodologies, I was mesmerised after stumbling upon Monzon's 'Celda 211', a dystopian depiction of prisons in Spain, which has provided me with a further interest in the bureaucracy of such complex networks. Such was my fascination with this issue that I have chosen this as the basis for my Individual Research Project.

In light of wanting to share my interest in cultural relations, I tutor English, Spanish and French online. This has allowed me to share my passion with others who are as eager as me. Through the same program, I have completed courses in Korean, Norwegian and Mandarin, to supplement the optional modules I have elected to follow in German and Italian outside my A Level studies. Additionally, I volunteered at a local language college in 2015 and immersed myself in communication with people of all nationalities.

I am also a Language Prefect at my school, leading a Spanish club to inspire younger learners and recently stressing the importance of languages at an event alongside local businesses. Moreover, I have engaged in writing articles for my school's newspaper on why it is imperative that we broaden our cognitive connections through learning languages, be it for preventing the onset of Alzheimer's or fostering international tolerance.

Through studying the emotional merging of absence and longing in Neruda's 'Poema 15', and studying short stories about the futility of war by Maupassant, I have seen how a different viewpoint on culture can be gained through the study of literary works; this has unlocked within me a deep desire to study Spanish literature.

To further my knowledge of Spanish, I visited San Sebastian in 2015, where I enhanced my communication skills through studying in a language centre and staying with a host family. In 2017 and 2018, I organised two trips to Malaga to witness the astounding processions of La Semana Santa - a festival that highlights the essentiality of religion to Spain. The vitality of this celebration prompted me to reflect upon the development of a country once plagued by a dark era of repression under Franco's dictatorship and how the women of Spain began to recognise their own rights: a crucial part of Spanish political history.

To aid my school in becoming more international, I joined the International Women's Academy, in which we connect with schools in Ghana, Shanghai and Phuket to seek ways in which we can improve our schooling systems and help marginalised women to embrace their right to education through raising money for scholarships.

By having the opportunity to develop my skills by helping to strengthen connections with other nations through political and language-related means, I have gained a real appreciation for those who fight for justice within organisations such as the UN, the World Bank and UNESCO, whom I aspire to work alongside after my university degree, and I am eager to fully embrace the vast variety of opportunities and challenges that the course will offer.

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