UW Bothell Student Witnesses the Struggle for Education Abroad

Published: November 26, 2013

Jozlyn Pelk
Photo credit: Gloria Mayne/Seattle International Foundation

UW Bothell senior Jozlyn Pelk’s appointment as the first Seattle Ambassador resulted from something of a chance encounter. During last year’s Earth Day celebration on the UW Bothell campus, Pelk came across information about the position at a table set up by the Seattle International Foundation and the City of Seattle’s Office of the Mayor. After submitting her application on a whim, she was selected from more than 1,300 applicants. Never having traveled abroad before, an entire world of possibilities had opened up to Pelk seemingly overnight.

“It was actually more stressful than exciting for a little while,” Pelk laughs. “I had to decide where to go and I didn’t have the luxury of the time. The world is a big, beautiful and complicated place, so it was hard to know in the moment where I could make the most impact.”

Pelk, a double major in global studies and law, economics, and public policy in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, ultimately chose to travel to Nicaragua, where she would observe and document her experience through a blog on the Seattle Ambassador Website.

Jozlyn Pelk
Photo credit: Gloria Mayne/Seattle International Foundation

In the function of Seattle Ambassador, Pelk worked to reinforce the relationships between local non-profit organizations and the international populations they seek to support. After a whirlwind tour of the country and a stream of meetings with social aid organizations and policy makers, Pelk looked back on her journey with mixed feelings.

“It was an incredible experience in terms of travel and engaging with international politics. I visited some vocational training centers funded by Seattle non-profits where women are micro-enterprising and that’s inspiring to see. It was also painful to see the circumstances that the Nicaraguan people were facing, especially in terms of education, health, and the environment.”

Pelk says the Global Studies program helped prepare her for interacting with various situations, though seeing them first hand is still totally different, “It has been illuminating to recognize the impact simple philanthropy can have, but I was impressed by the significance of education in a global sense and the deep social, political, and cultural forces at work that make educational resources difficult to access and support.”

As she settles back into her classes at UW Bothell, Pelk says she plans to continue her education in pursuit of K-8 certification in order to teach and later work towards a Master’s degree in Education Policy.

To learn more about Jozlyn Pelk’s experiences as Seattle Ambassador, visit Jozlyn Pelk's page.