Christina Zielke


Name: Christina Zielke
Majors: International Studies and Geography
Minors: German, Chinese, and Global Perspectives on Sustainability

Like countless students before her, Christina Zielke first fell in love with Miami's campus. The red brick, the white columns, the kelly green lawns to the horizon. Yet she's spent a lot of time away from Oxford. She even missed graduation, completing her year at Liaoning Normal University in Dalian, China, on a full Miami Confucius Institute scholarship.

"Looking back on four years, I think of all the places I've gotten to," said Zielke, who majored in international studies and geography and minored in German, Chinese, and global perspectives on sustainability. "Not being able to attend graduation, sad as that is, means that I have this opportunity that not a lot of Miami students have."

Zielke traveled to Dominica with Miami faculty Tom Klak and Charlie Stevens for an ecotourism and sustainable agriculture project. She went to Kenya with Kim Medley to study biodiversity. For a six-week intensive Chinese workshop, she studied with Liang Shi in Tianjin, China, while completing a research project on Chinese health care.

"My mom doesn't even own a passport! Where did I get this bug from?" wonders the globetrotter from Mentor, Ohio, who studied in Germany her junior year of high school. "As a student who has paid for half of college myself, I feel proud of taking these opportunities."

Next up, the Peace Corps. Zielke's hoping for a placement in Frenchspeaking Africa. "I don't know where I'm going with international studies - I'm still trying to figure that out. I hope the Peace Corps will help me define my interests. After that, maybe a master's in environmental studies or international development."

Her Peace Corps interviews proved easier than any coursework. "A lot of the situations they asked me about I've already done. 'How could you cope with no running water?' In Dalian, they're putting in a subway, andthey drill and blow up the pipes. I often don't have any running water · for a week.

" 'How would you handle not being able to communicate with someone?' My roommate at Liaoning is Russian, and she doesn't speak a word of English. We only have Chinese." In China, Zielke stretched herself further, volunteering to teach English to 25 Chinese first-graders. "It's definitely a challenge. Kudos to elementary education majors.

"I've learned many concrete things at Miami, but the most important thing was how to work with people and develop an intercultural relationship. It helped that I was an RA with the International Living Learning Community for two years.

"We will probably change jobs 20 times in our lifetimes, but we'll always need to work with people and other cultures, especially in an increasingly global world."

The Miamian, Volume 29, Number 3, Page 14.


UPDATE: 01/26/21

Christina is currently a Policy Coordinator in the Office of the Secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In her spare time Christina serves as Vice President, of the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Washington, D.C. (RPCV/W), a registered 501(c)(3) organization. Prior to her current role at HHS she served for 8 years with the Peace Corps, 3 years as a Volunteer and 5 years as staff. She was most recently the Special Assistant to the Director for Travel, Logistics, Speechwriting and Social Media. From January 2018-September 2018 she was the Acting Executive Assistant to the Director. Preceding her work in the Director’s Office she was Special Assistant in the Office of Global Operations and Special Assistant in the Office of Global Heath and HIV. Christina is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer from Botswana, where she served for 3 years. During her initial two years of service she lived in a residential care center for orphaned and vulnerable children. She lived in a small mining town where she worked on HIV/AIDS projects, youth development, literacy, wellness and life skills initiatives. Christina served as a third year Volunteer in the Botswana PEPFAR Coordination Office at the State Department providing support to the Botswana PEPFAR Management Team and Botswana Country Operational Plan. She also served as a Peace Corps Volunteer Leader (PCVL) providing programmatic support to Volunteers in the Clinic and Health Team and Local Government Capacity Building sectors.