This academic year, the Columbia College experience is taking place in all corners of the world. To help keep our community connected, we’re asking students to share their thoughts about their classes and hobbies and what they’re learning about themselves during the pandemic. This week, we speak with Edgardo Zelaya CC’22, a history major with a concentration in statistics from Queens, N.Y.
What’s been your favorite class so far, and why?
I’m stuck between two! One is “History of the Modern Middle East,” with Professor Rashid Khalidi; it gave me the global awareness that the Core always talks about. It taught me about the world beyond the United States, especially how the U.S. interacts with other countries and the responsibilities we have to make sure that we don’t keep contributing to the damage that colonialism and imperialism continue to inflict. That brings me to my other favorite class: “Colonial Encounters: Europe and the Culture of Empire” with Professor Lisa Tiersten, from Barnard. It’s about the colonial era and European history, how there are different ways of colonizing and how they affected people around the world; once again, just teaching me more about why today’s world is set up the way it is and the relationships certain countries have with the global south.
What do you like to do outside of class?
I like to make music and ride my bike. I’m also an Admissions intern at Columbia; I focus on the Academic Success Programs, so I try to figure out what students might need additional support with if they were to attend the College. I’m also involved with Spectator; I’m an engagement analyst. It’s like a marketing team — we look at data on the website and try to understand how the journalism team can use this data to write articles or change its target groups.
Have you picked up any new hobbies or interests during the pandemic?
Yes — mainly electronic music. Prior to the pandemic I was more active, going out and always exercising, but now that things are more limited, I felt that I finally had the chance to sit down and work with music at home, which has been nice.
What have you been reading/watching/listening to that you would recommend to fellow students, and why?
I recommend the book series Very Short Introductions, published by the Oxford University Press. I recently read one about decolonization; there are hundreds of books on different topics; it’s not chronological, and it’s really nice because it’s like a crash course in any topic that you’re interested in.
What’s something you learned about yourself during the pandemic?
I’m a lot stronger than I thought and capable of more than I thought. What has really helped me get through this is being connected with other human beings — my family, girlfriend and friends.
What message would you send to classmates?
We’ll get through this!