As we continue to honor March as the international month for women, we present this second special edition of "Meet our Kuadrilla” with an interview featuring Izabela Zonato from São Paulo, Brazil, an attorney for the Mackenzie Presbyterian University with an interest in migration, human rights and rights of minority groups; and Nicole Velasco from Cali, Colombia, a researcher at the Free University of Colombia interested in constitutional law, legal culture and ethnic diversity. They share some insight about their experience in Oñati with only a week of classes remaining, including some tips for future students. Enjoy and share!
*You can read this interview in Spanish here.*
Starting Question: The IISJ is known for its excellent visiting academic faculty with direct interactions that generate close working relations between professors and students. Can you share a bit about your interactions with the professors?
Izabela: The Institute gives us a great opportunity to have open access to professors. They share their stories and knowledges in many areas, and remind us that they were once in our place. I have had the opportunity to interview many of them which has allowed me to see everything they have had to go through get where they are now. It is not only a learning experience for me, but also for my colleagues and members of the Master Oñati community. In the end, the purpose is for other people know more about the teachers and how they relate to the IISJ.
Editor’s note: Check out Izabela’s interviews with Martin Krygier and Jill Hunter
Nicole: I think that the dynamic of closeness between teachers and students is very interesting in that we share many activities. The fact that they live in the residence with us and share life with us inside and outside the classroom, makes the relationship between teacher and student even closer. Although we only live together for two weeks at a time, bonds of equality are created that is not the typical relationship of superiority, there is more friendship and companionship that the Institute helps create.
Izabela: What future opportunities do you think the Institute has created for you? For example, the international conferences, such as those coming up in Lisbon and Canada?
Nicole: The opportunities from the professors and visiting scholars are immense. For example, with Lucero Ibarra from Mexico, she told me about her process as a journal editor, her experiences in academia and all that information is very useful and important to me Also Lais Górski, from Brazil, who told us about current practices in the field of legal sociology that gives us a broader perspective of academic activity on a day-to-day basis.
Izabela: I agree, and I think that it is not just the professors who we can learn from their experiences but also the connections we make with the visiting scholars who are working on their PhD or other research, are also very important. As Nicole said, the visit of Lais for example opened the opportunity for me to work together in Brazil, after only knowing her for the three weeks she spent in Oñati, or the invitation of Valerija Grozdic from Serbia to take a course at her university. This is a great opportunity for all of us who belong to the Oñati community, we have contact with academics all over the world.
Nicole And speaking of living together, what is the most fun you remember sharing with the students and teachers?
Izabela: The last class with Boaventura! We danced, recited poetry, sang, and shared different forms of art from all over the world. How about you?
Nicole: I have a very good memory of Martin Kryiger, when he invited us pintxo-pote, a very typical activity in Oñati that allows us all to come together and get to know each other better outside of class.
Izabela: And now that we are about to finish the Master’s classes, who would you describe your personal growth with this experience?
Nicole: It is an experience where we are learning at all moments, and my growth comes from being more aware and reflective of the things I want to bring back to my country. Living in Europe is a very different experience from my Colombia context, both types of knowledges generate the way of life and that is something that I can apply in a dialogue with the global South, as we said Boaventura’s in class.
Izabela: I think I learned to be more understanding and thanks to the cultural diversity of the Master. I have learned to have more patience in dealing with day-to-day things. What seemed complex to me is very simple in other cultures.