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### Embracing a New Outlook: The Quest for Perspective

When Nora Griffin-Wiesner was 13 years old, she encountered an asylum seeker from Rwanda. This individual, whom we will call George to safeguard his identity, frequently joined their family gatherings and swiftly integrated as a “member of the family.”

Reflecting on a particular incident when George enthusiastically attended one of her soccer matches at a nearby park, Griffin-Wiesner recollects how he vocally supported her throughout the game, a stark contrast to the behavior of other acquaintances. “I was embarrassed,” admitted Griffin-Wiesner. This experience marked one of the initial instances where she was prompted to contemplate diversity, particularly concerning societal norms. Despite feeling uneasy, it sparked her curiosity to delve deeper and broaden her outlook.

The Undergraduate Research Study Abroad initiative arranges for students to travel to Morocco for research purposes.

The early encounters with George, coupled with dialogues within her family about culture and diversity, ultimately guided Griffin-Wiesner to the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD), where she pursued a double major in International Studies and Sociology, along with a minor in [ppp1].

Additionally, as a student athlete, she actively participated in the soccer team at UMD.

Describing UMD as conducive to her exploratory nature, she embarked on a transformative journey during the summer of 2022 by participating in the [ppp2], an experience that further fueled her quest for cultural understanding.

The Undergraduate Research Study Abroad (URSA) program at UMD caters to students across various disciplines, aiding them in formulating and executing their capstone research projects. Students engage in developing their research proposals during the spring semester before venturing to Morocco to conduct research while residing with local families. Griffin-Wiesner’s project centered on immigration, involving interviews with organizations assisting migrants to comprehend the challenges they encounter in the country.

Recounting her time abroad, Griffin-Wiesner emphasized how it built upon the formative experiences she shared with her family during her formative years. “The culture shock was real,” she acknowledged. “It facilitated a broader perspective and nurtured empathy.”

Upon graduating from UMD in 2023, Griffin-Wiesner assumed a role at the Minnesota Humanities Center as an Americorps fellow. Subsequently, she aspires to pursue a master’s degree in International Studies from the University of Salamanca in Spain, with a long-term aspiration of engaging in cross-cultural endeavors professionally.

Nora Griffin-Wiesner, a UMD alumna with a background in International Studies and Sociology, expressed her profound gratitude for the knowledge she has acquired.