Transformation Contest winners visit Washington DC

Abbeygale Chen-See and Semira Sanchez pose for a picture with the U.S. Capitol

Abbeygale Chen-See and Semira Sanchez pose for a picture with the U.S. Capitol

Consider it mission accomplished – a contest that was intended to show students how diplomacy, foreign service, and international development shape the world now has them wondering whether service abroad might be right for them.

Abbeygale Chen-See, 20, and Semira Sanchez, 22, recently had a two-day whirlwind visit to the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the Peace Corps, the State Department and two non-profit organizations, FHI 360 and Results.

“It was really go, go, go,” Sanchez said. “We met with a lot of returned Peace Corps volunteers and got to hear their stories and gave us advice. We also had a chance to meet with a diplomat who has traveled the world and even served in Azerbaijan.”

The trip was the top prize for students who submitted journal entries, poems and paintings depicting their life-changing experiences for the Office of Global Learning’s inaugural Transformation Contest.

A panel of five FIU faculty and staff selected the winners in the Spring.

Chen-See’s submission reflected on an early-childhood experience when a friend first commented on the color of her skin. While it made her feel sad at first, it awakened a passion to learn more about other cultures and why the world appears “color-coded.”

Sanchez, for her part, focused on her travels to Costa Rica, Germany, and Senegal.

“This trips made me become very self aware of who I am,” she said. “It wasn’t until I went to Senegal that I saw my potential – how social and creative I was. I had to teach French to children, had to use different ways of communicating to reach out to them.”

Chen-See, an English major, loved the visit with the diplomat at the State Department.

“When you read you learn about different cultures you learn about different people in the world,” said Chen-See, who developed an interest in working abroad from this trip. “The diplomat had a lot of great experiences all over the world. He opened me up to a lot of ideas and possible career options.

“It’s closely related to what I’m studying now.”

Sanchez, an international business major, was most excited by the chance to visit with FIU alumni and other staffers working at the Peace Corps. In fact, she’s already back in Washington, D.C., working on a summer internship at Peace Corps headquarters where she works in the acquisition and contracts management department and shadows Peace Corps employees to learn more about the work they do.

“The Peace Corps is awesome,” she said. “The people there are so diverse and nice. I can see myself working somewhere like that.”

For more information on this initiative or to sponsor future participants, contact Global Learning Coordinator Eric Feldman at 305-348-4145 or

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