Nina Roman (featured on right, above) is a senior at Valencia College in Orlando, FL. She was invited to participate in our first ever Global Student Leadership Summit last month, hosted in conjunction with our 3rd annual Diversity Abroad Conference. She was excited to write about her experience in New Orleans and shares her story with us in this week's featured article! Check it out here:
My deep passion for traveling began with my short term trip to Italy and Greece. In 2013, I was blessed with the opportunity to travel abroad with some amazing peers and professors. Since this life changing trip, I kept in touch with a special professor, Professor Gitto. Her guidance led me to founding and becoming President for the World Citizen’s Club. She told me about the Diversity Abroad conference in New Orleans, and I immediately wanted to attend. I was notified a month before the conference that I would definitely be attending so I began to prepare myself. “This will be the first time I ever travel alone,” I thought to myself. I was a little nervous at first, especially because of my plane anxiety, but I reminded myself I could do anything I set my mind to and this would be a big step in my early adult years.
I arrived in New Orleans for the first time on Sunday March 22nd. After two flights from Orlando, I was exhausted and ready to relax before the Keynote Address began. Though my room wasn’t ready, I made the best of my time and took a stroll down Bourbon Street. Things got a little crazy and my appetite was consuming my inner being – almost like the Snickers commercial slogan: “You aren’t you when you’re hungry.” Clubs, bars, restaurants, and gift shops lined the entire street. I wasn’t used to such an open environment but I surely welcomed it. First stop, jambalaya and chargrilled oysters! I went back to my hotel, devoured my food, got ready, and finally made my way over to the conference.
I enjoyed hearing Dr. Johnetta B. Cole, educator and humanitarian, open the conference with some wise words of wisdom. She explained the top five reasons why students are afraid to travel: family, friends, faculty, finance, and fear. The food served by the hotel was amazing - fresh vegetables, fried fish, savory jambalaya, and crawfish, and beignets filled the air with a beautiful aroma immediately following the opening session. Every aspect of the trip made me appreciate the real New Orleans experience. I had the opportunity to network with professionals and Diversity Abroad staff as a member of the inaugural Global Student Leadership Summit this year!
The student workshops were resourceful, fun, and inspiring. Dr. Aaron Bruce inspired me to turn my weaknesses into my strengths. Andrew Gordon, President and Founder of Diversity abroad, shared with us the true definition of leadership – the ability to motivate yourself and others to accomplish a common goal through a united effort. I never thought I would be traveling, let alone, by myself, but thankfully I was able to with the help of Valencia College.
This conference has improved my ability to become a better leader and express myself and the skills I’ve received from studying abroad. It is important for students to develop leadership skills as a global citizen. I plan on attending future conferences because I not only want to gain knowledge but I would like to learn the proper tools for success in helping my community. As Dr. Cole said, “There will be no credit for predicting the rain, it’s time to build an ark.” Who ever said living on the edge was such a bad thing?