Porntip Israsena–a Donaghey Scholar at UALR–has traveled the world and is convinced it is only getting smaller. Although local to the area–Israsena is a graduate of North Little Rock High School–she has traveled the globe, from Quito, Ecuador, to Bangkok, Thailand, and places in between.
Israsena, a Spanish language and international relations double major, believes students must prepare to be global citizens who are not only knowledgeable about American culture, but also knowledgeable about distant cultures and places far removed from their own.
She most recently returned from Bangkok, Thailand, where she completed a full-time internship for the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs, specifically, in the Department of Association of Southeast Asian Nations Affairs. While there, she compiled a database for the Thai Ministry’s library on ASEAN-related resources and also wrote and published four articles for the Ministry’s ASEAN website.
Israsena also studied Thai language, foreign policy, the social and economic development of Southeast Asia and Thai cuisine at Thammasat University. Her travel was supported through a $5,000 Gilman Scholarship from the U.S. Department of State.
During her time at UALR, Israsena has also created a re-entry manual to help students re-immerse in American culture after studying abroad.
“Every time I go abroad, I learn about the U.S.,” she said. Israsena has also been active with the exchange mentor program in the International Studies Office, which seeks to help exchange students adapt to their newly adopted campus and community.
Asked why she is such a passionate advocate for students not only traveling abroad, but picking a culture and really immersing themselves in it, Israsena said it may have its roots in the fact that she is descended from a Thai father and American-born mother.
Studying abroad, students will be changed and there will be experiences that are challenging, said Israsena. “But they will be better for it, and our world will be better,” she concluded.