Claudia Soliz Castro Finds Community at Georgetown

Claudia Soliz Castro
Master of Arts in Latin American Studies, Class of 2017
La Paz, Bolivia
Summer 2016 Experience: Master’s thesis fieldwork on the effects of informal markets on state development in Bolivia
Favorite Classes: Latin American Origins and Transformations” with Professor Erick Langer and “Indigenous Movements in Latin America” with Professor Kevin Healy
D.C. Jobs and Internships:
Internship, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD); Research Assistant, Latin America Initiative

 

May 18, 2017
by Ara Friedman

Claudia Soliz Castro came to the graduate program in Latin American Studies at Georgetown looking for a way to place her personal experience in the region into an academic context. What she found was a community of classmates and faculty who helped her make Georgetown her home. “What I will miss most is the community I have built here,” Soliz Castro says. “Within my program and outside of it, the relationships that I have built have challenged me academically and personally. A lot of learning takes place outside of class, and having such an amazing cohort of friends, certainly takes happy hour conversations to a whole different dimension.”

Faculty mentors also contributed to Soliz Castro’s sense of belonging. Although she developed significant relationships with most of her professors, Professor Angelo Rivero-Santos made a special difference for her experience. “In the classroom, Dr. Rivero-Santos has pushed me to be a better scholar and has given me the tools and language to rethink Latin America as a region. On a personal level, Dr. Rivero-Santos has been much more than a mentor, he has been a friend,” she said.

Being an international student had unique challenges, but Soliz Castro also cherished the chance to share her culture with classmates. She was involved in bringing a folklore ballet from Virginia called ‘Ballet Somos Bolivia’ to present Cueca and Bailecito, two traditional Bolivian dances, at Georgetown’s Reventon Latino. “It was an amazing experience,” Soliz Castro said. “As an international student, being able to hear and see my culture performed at a historic stage like Gaston Hall was by far one of my favorite memories at Georgetown.”

Looking back, classes on indigenous movements and Latin American history were an academic highlight for Soliz Castro. “Both classes challenged me to re-conceptualize the way in which I understand the nation state, as it is understood today and how it developed throughout time,” she said. Georgetown’s location in Washington, D.C. also gave her the chance to apply her academic studies. “Last month, I had the opportunity to meet indigenous leaders from Peru, Brazil, and Ecuador who were in town to present their case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights,” Soliz Castro remembers. “Reading about the movements is one thing, being able to interact with the leaders of said movements takes learning to a different level that only a city like D.C. can offer.”

Soliz Castro discovered new interests through her studies and interaction with other graduate students at SFS, taking a class on Chinese Foreign Policy, which led her to her future direction. “Now that I have a better grasp of the role that China plays, and will continue to play, in my region and the world, I want Asia to be my next step. I came to SFS with a regional mindset, but now I have understood that my region does not exist in a vacuum. Today I am happy to say that I walk away from SFS with a global mindset instead.”