By: Katie Morris
Elif Anda is a breath of fresh air for anyone that meets her. Her easygoing manner, kind heart and passion for life are evident as soon as she begins to speak.
Anda will graduate from Lehigh University this spring with a major in Global Studies and minors in Latin American Studies and Entrepreneurship. She says she can’t believe she is about to graduate, and everything she does now has an air of nostalgia to it. She constantly wonders if whatever she is doing will be for the last time.
Anda came to Lehigh as a January admit looking for her place. She went through a four-hour orientation and was then thrown into the chaos that is Lehigh. She came looking to make a difference in the world and says “I was looking for a major that encompassed everything.”
Anda took the Introduction to Global Studies course and instantly fell in love with the cultural aspects of the interdisciplinary major. “I love that there is flexibility within the major,” she says. “You can choose to focus on whatever interests you.” She also loved the ability to pair her major with multiple minors.
Asked about her favorite part of the major, Anda paused to think before giving a very personal answer: “All of my professors had something different to say about globalization. It is now up to me as a senior to decide what my view point on the world is. Global Studies gave me the ability to be informed and the tools to understand the world and have intellectual discussions.”
Global Studies director and associate professor of anthropology, Bruce Whitehouse, is Anda’s adviser and has taught her in two classes. “She’s one of those students I think I’ll always remember,” he says. “Whether she’s sharing ideas in or out of class, developing a written argument, co-creating a video for a course assignment, or performing with an A cappella group, Elif always impresses me as a dedicated person who’s also really fun to be around. She conveys an energy I wish I could match.”
At Lehigh Anda has taken advantage of every opportunity the university has to offer and suggests that other students do the same. In her opinion, college is the only time in one’s life when one is provided with such amazing abroad experiences and the opportunity to listen to various guest lecturers. Her biggest piece of advice to current students is to connect these new experiences to the knowledge they already have. “It would be a shame for these experiences to just be a memory in your back pocket, to not draw on these experiences,” she says. “Always apply your experiences and what you’re learning to the bigger picture.”
As a sophomore, Anda spent six months studying abroad in Seville, Spain. When asked her about her time in Spain her face instantly light up as the memories of her experience came flooding back. She spoke about her experience with such excitement and passion. She chose Seville for its small-city feel and distinctive flavor. “In Seville, they do flamenco as a part of their culture, it’s not just a tourist thing,” she recalls. At the university Anda was one of few American students in her classes and was instantly struck by how hospitable the other students were. On her first day of class the boy next to her recognized that she was a foreigner and immediately offered to help her study.
Anda was also fascinated to see how other people perceive Americans. During her walk to class a man came up to her and asked her why she was walking so fast. Anda recalls being puzzled at first. “You talk too fast, walk too fast, live too fast, you don’t enjoy what you’re doing,” the man told her. After that she began to take her time and learned to truly appreciate the little things, like the architecture of the buildings or the colors of the flowers.
While abroad Anda made several weekend trips to other countries in the region. She loved these trips but says she “always went back to Seville feeling like, it’s good to be home. It feels nice to be back.” She immersed herself in the culture and became close friends with local people, which was her goal all along.
Anda’s willingness to simply throw herself into things and to give the experience everything that she has, has impressed both professors and employers alike. In fact, last year during a skype interview Anda was asked to rap one of the songs she was learning for her A capella group. She said she grabbed a water bottle off of her desk, stood up in full interview clothing and performed for the employers. A week later, she got the call that she had been selected to intern for the company that summer.
Asked if she had anything that she wanted to add at the end of the interview, she replied with a laugh “I love my mom and dad.” She explained that her parents are the people who gave her a love for the world around her and a compassion for learning about other people. “Without them, I wouldn’t be half the person I am today,” Anda says. “They made me who I am and I hope I have made them proud.”