Nora Zaim-Sassi '22
Finding a New Path in the IS Program
As a student at Boston College my freshman year, I thought I had my heart set on doing something in the medical field. I was a biology major on the pre-med track. But as time passed during my first semester, I felt that something was missing. I was no longer as excited to learn as I had always been; I was no longer passionate in what I was doing. I was lost.
Fortunately, I came to the realization that the first reason why I even wanted to be on the pre-med track was because I wanted to help people. I had initially thought, “What better way to help people than through medicine?”, yet I soon realized I didn’t need to work in medicine to make the difference I was seeking. I had discussions with my academic advisor and family who helped me realize that I didn't really want to be a doctor -- if anything, I felt queasy even looking at anything with blood.
During the mid-point of my first semester at BC I learned about the International Studies Program and was fascinated by what it had to offer. I immediately decided to apply. I always knew that I loved learning new languages, engaging in debates about human rights, watching the news on immigration and the impact it continues to have on so many lives of all citizens of the world, and more. All of what I was so passionate about has fortunately become daily conversations in my IS courses.
My first semester as an IS major has been exactly what I thought, and more. I have joined the International Studies Student Association (ISSA) and currently am being mentored by a senior IS major. I am currently taking an elective course, "Global Justice and Cosmopolitanism," as well as the new "Where on Earth?" course for sophomores, which has pushed me to enter discussions I may have subconsciously suppressed because of how relatable they are in my life. "Where on Earth" started by un-teaching us the standard way of thinking about how maps and diverse societies were formed. We have worked on readings from Kate Brown, Reece Jones, Nguyen Viet Thanh, Trevor Noah and more. All of these readings have been engaging in the sense that it really does push every student to think about space, place, and scale and how they pertain to each author’s experience. One of my favorite experiences was taking what we had read and applying it to our own sense of place in our lives. The professors created an assignment called “Where on Campus?” where each student was forced to evaluate how places truly do convey so many truths to us that we may never even realize. This assignment, however, also allowed me to realize and vocalize what makes the place itself, whom/what is allowed to create this space, and how it pertains to myself entering these places around campus, at home, and when abroad.
As part of the IS major program, I have become more excited for what I am learning both in and outside of class because of how challenging, tangible, and inspiring every story, topic, and theme I have had the opportunity to engage in. I find myself excited to tell friends and family what I’m learning and working on. I find myself eager to engage in such important and necessary conversations that the world is in need of today. I find myself closer to making the change I have always dreamt of.
Nora Zaim-Sassi '22