Emily Rothstein ’18 chose the University of Mary Washington for its study abroad opportunities. When she wasn’t trotting across Campus Walk – sometimes on horseback as a UMW equestrian – she was trekking across countries and continents. The voyages this globetrotter made as a student have led her to an international nonprofit job and now graduate school overseas.
Though Rothstein hails from Maryland, the self-described “Army brat” spent much of her childhood in Germany, traveling everywhere from Ireland and Turkey, to Belize and Costa Rica. But it wasn’t until she got to Mary Washington that she felt truly at home.
“I was impressed with how engaged UMW was and how students seemed like they really wanted to be here,” Rothstein said. She fell in love with her beautiful surroundings and the friendly community, joining a campus Bible study group and the equestrian team.
She majored in international affairs and sociology, and began adding stamps to her passport, heading to Guatemala for a grassroots development class and twice to Nepal, where she learned about the country’s transition to a democratic, secular government.
“What impressed me the most about Emily is her passion, initiative and rigor,” said Political Science Professor Surupa Gupta, who helped Rothstein design an independent research project and secure funding so she could return to Nepal to interview academics and activists.
On her first trip, led by Professors Dan Hirshberg and David Rettinger, she and her classmates visited historical and religious sites and engaged in service projects, including building bookcases for an orphanage and clearing debris after an earthquake. Upon her return, she witnessed a coming-of-age ceremony that yoked a young man to his community and faith.
“One of my favorite memories was walking to Swayambhu – the Monkey Temple – and watching the sun rise over Kathmandu,” said Rothstein, who recalled prayer flags flapping in the breeze as she hiked through the countryside. And she participated in Holi, the Hindu festival celebrating the beginning of spring. “Everyone had color on them, even the street dogs.”
Before she graduated, Rothstein co-founded the Nepal Ananda Club to introduce UMW students to Nepali culture and the country’s study abroad opportunities. She also attended Sister City meetings in Fredericksburg to learn and share her knowledge and experiences in Kathmandu with others. It led to a chance encounter with her future supervisor at the Global Peace Foundation.
As a program associate at the nonprofit’s D.C. headquarters, Rothstein spent the last year as a liaison for chapter offices in 15 countries, managed its internship program and planned large-scale events like the International Young Leaders Assembly, an eight-day gathering of social justice-minded youth from across the globe.
“Studying abroad prepared me for these trips because I was confident in my ability to adapt to a new environment and communicate across cultures,” said Rothstein, who attended conventions in Uganda and South Korea on behalf of the organization.
“Working with people from other parts of the globe makes the challenge of understanding and respecting others’ perspectives even more important,” she said.
This fall, Rothstein has embarked on a new adventure in England. After seeing the impact of Guatemala and Nepal’s civil wars, she’s pursuing a master’s degree in post-war recovery studies at the University of York.
She’s not sure where she’ll go from there, but she knows her UMW education will be her guide.
In celebration of International Education Week 2019, Nov. 18 to 22, UMW shares stories of students who have studied abroad. One in three Mary Washington students volunteers, interns, conducts research, or joins a faculty-led trip or other UMW-approved experience outside the United States, according to Center for International Education (CIE) Director Jose Sainz. Visit CIE or call (540) 654-1434 for more information.