My name is Dustin Stiffler and as you may have read in Grace’s farewell post, I am the new intern/International Resident Assistant here in Mexico for the Center for Global Education. I am excited to be here, and to be part of a team that has years of experience in higher education, study abroad, and social justice work. Grace did a phenomenal job to help me settle in, and to show me the CEMAL ropes. I’m not sure how I will be able to fill her shoes, but I do know that her legacy will live on for years to come.
I am a recent graduate from Siena College in Upstate New York. I received a bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a minor in Spanish. During my time at Siena, I also worked extensively on the fair trade movement on campus, where I was able to see the movement grow over the four years I was there. I was also a staff member of the Sr. Thea Bowman Center for Women, which is another social justice organization that concentrates on women’s empowerment, gender issues, and other social justice issues that include human trafficking, immigration, and conscious consumerism/ethical sourcing.
During my Fall 2012 semester, I was fortunate to be able to experience the Center for Global Education’s Central America program, which offered me an insight to the realities of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. I was able to learn about the past histories of each country, and the present situation of each; the program looked at themes such as indigenous cultures, liberation theology, political science, and feminist studies. It is because of my positive experience on the CGE-Central America program that I fell in love with the CGE educational pedagogy, and Latin America. I also spent the Spring 2013 semester in Buenos Aires, Argentina where I was able to experience a very unique reality within Latin America, which further instilled a love for Latin America within me.
With my passion for social justice, and my international experience on study abroad programs in Latin America, I am delighted to be able to work with the CEMAL team and the students on the CGE-Mexico program. It has been just over a week since the students arrived and I can already tell that the seven students that we have this semester are passionate, diligent, and are eager to learn and expose themselves to the realities of Mexico and Cuernavaca.
Here’s to a great semester and year!