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Courtney LaFranchi | Martin Scholar
In Her Own Words:
While in Spain, a Martin Scholar Studies and Experiences Culture as a Dynamic Force
“My majors are Spanish, international studies and music - piano performance,” writes Courtney LaFranchi, a University of Idaho Martin Scholar, currently studying abroad in Spain. LaFranchi’s research project is about whether or not cultural preservation should be the next step in the cultural diplomacy saga. She arrived at this topic through several readings on the process of cultural diplomacy.
“It struck me that the predominant view of culture is that it ought to be preserved, as if it were a static thing,” she writes. “In my research, I have learned that there is a primary focus on the cultures of other nations, specifically less-developed countries, while the focus on much of western culture has been lost. As a classical musician, I've observed the audiences at symphonies and operas shrinking to the point of making performances pointless, or at least not profitable. I've observed this in Spain as much as the USA, if not more."
LaFranchi has lived with a host-family and says “they've been the best part of this experience.”
She continued: “I had never lived with a typical family before, so just the experience of having a pair of parents under the same roof was illuminating, and the little ones are an added bonus. I've enjoyed the culture as well, though it took some time to get used to the way people talk.
The Martin Institute has afforded me the chance to do what I've wanted to do my entire life: everything. As an international studies student, you get to choose your classes with more liberty than any other major I know of, though of course that brings a lot of responsibility.
The institute gave her “the chance to explore history, philosophy, economics, language, political science, you name it. I feel that the more you understand, the more marketable you are, and the happier”.
“My understanding of the world correlates directly to how much I enjoy my time in it. As far as jobs, I can't see a company turning away a person who has the enthusiasm, diversity of knowledge and writing skills of a Martin Institute student.
“We also are required to adapt to a foreign environment, learn a new language, and choose a field and region of emphasis within our first couple of years. It's a heavy commitment and responsibility, but very worthwhile!
I don't think anything can enrich your life more than doing what you love, and that's what the Martin Institute gives me the chance to do.”