Scholarship Takes Natasha Diane Buchholz '17 to Mozambique

November 03, 2016

Natasha Buchholz

Natasha filled us in on studying Portuguese in Mozambique!

What are you studying at Simmons?

Political science, international relations and economics.

What drew you to your major?

My interest in global affairs, which arose from my multicultural upbringing. Growing up in a family of immigrants, spanning across the Atlantic Ocean from South America to Western Europe, made international relations a critical component to my upbringing due to differing socio-political perspectives.

I believe that politics are embedded in nearly every aspect of modern life and thus must be critically analyzed, which led me to the Political Science and International Relations Department at Simmons.

What's your favorite class you've taken so far?

International Monetary Systems with Professor Niloufer Sohrabji. This class truly opened my eyes up to the intricacies of international development and global systems.

Tell us about winning the Boren Scholarship. What language are you studying?

I'm studying Portuguese in Mozambique. The Boren Scholarship has provided me with the necessary tools to learn a language essential to a career in international development, in a region of the world that is critical to U.S. foreign policy and is underrepresented in study abroad programs. This scholarship will also give me the opportunity to work in the federal government for at least one year after graduation. 

What's the timeline of your program?

The overseas portion of my program started in early August. That was the part I was most looking forward to because it would allow me to immerse myself in Mozambican life and culture for ten months.

This program positions me to study the state’s system of governance and communicate with diverse political and economic actors, both of which are expanding my understanding of effective development in sub-Saharan Africa.

If you could tell someone one thing about your experience so far, what would it be?

Well, it depends on the context. If I'm speaking to someone who is interested in living in Mozambique, I would urge them to be adaptable. My experience here has been concentrated in the capital of Maputo — a globalized city — often considered an island in comparison to the rest of the country. 

Many things in day-to-day life are different than my experiences in the United States. Being willing to adapt has allowed me to experience the rich culture this city has to offer. It has also permitted me to meet people that have impacted me both personally and academically

I would urge someone to be open to attending cultural events and interacting with the diverse people within the city, from the women on street corners selling fruit to the students on their daily commutes. I believe that's one of the most effective ways to learn about a country.

What made you choose Simmons?

Simmons' small, yet welcoming environment despite being in the center of a large American city. I knew that its location in the center of Boston would provide me with opportunities that I wouldn't have had otherwise, such as the ability to attend lectures at various universities.

What's your Simmons moment?

Attending a conference in New York City with the Simmons Model United Nations Team. At this conference, as we sat in the United Nations General Assembly Hall — the hub of international diplomacy, we were briefed by the United Kingdom’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Security Council about the importance of women's leadership in international affairs.

At that moment, I realized that Simmons' push for leadership will continue to be extremely relevant as I pursue a career in this competitive field. 

Photos of Mozambique by Natasha Bucholz.