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As a Global Studies MA student and Rotary Peace Fellow, Barbara Santibanez’s (’17 MA) experiences at Carolina were filled with extraordinary opportunities to learn and to engage in locally and abroad. The flexibility of the Global Studies graduate program and the constant encouragement she  received to engage in opportunities abroad  allowed Barbara to peruse her interests in education policy and human rights while adding a global perspective to these topics.

During the summer of 2016, Barbara worked at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France, in the Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education program. She wanted to work with an organization that directly engaged in this area so that she could get ‘hands on’ experience and apply the skills she learned in her first year at Carolina. Her main role while at the Council was to work on the upcoming report on the state of citizenship and human rights education in Europe (to be published in 2017). Her research included collecting, analyzing, and reporting on data provided by European governments and she was able to present the preliminary results of her work at high-level meetings.

During her time at the Council, Barbara also worked on policy briefs, carried out research on other topics, and even attended events for the general public in which she would present the program’s tools for teachers and students. She writes that “Undoubtedly, my summer experience was fully enriching. I achieved my goal of ‘learning by doing’ in the field of human rights education, which had a direct impact on my thesis project due next Spring that will focus on the implementation of human rights education curricula in conflicted contexts.”

Barbara’s time at UNC provided her rich experiences and her involvement awarded her new opportunities. In June 2016, she won a thesis prize for her research project in a competition organized by the Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Chile. She was among the ten selected projects and received a monetary prize plus unlimited access to all the Museum archives. In Fall 2016, she was invited by the Council of Europe to participate in the 3rd Youth Forum on Human Rights Education held in the first week of October in Budapest, Hungary. Attending this conference gave her the opportunity to apply the lessons she learned at Carolina and abroad, to network with people working in this area at different levels, and to confirm her commitment and passion towards transformative learning experiences through and with human rights.