SIS Alumna Profile: Laura Kurland
When Laura Kurland, MA/IPCR ’08, completed her MA in IPCR, she never expected to find a job so close to home.
“I definitely thought that I would have to stay in D.C. to put my degree to good use, I never thought I would find a career in Minnesota,” said Kurland.
Kurland, a native of Rochester, Minnesota, now serves as the Regional Coordinator for Latin America for the Global Citizens Network (GCN), a Minneapolis-based agency that organizes international volunteer opportunities around the world.
A former participant in the Fulbright Student Program, Kurland had spent time before and after studying in the IPCR program working in Peru, looking at the ways political decentralization impact indigenous communities.
She has taken this experience and applied it to her current position, where she often must deal with conflicts that arise within GCN’s host communities. GCN sends volunteers to indigenous communities in North America, Latin America, East Africa, and Asia, to work on community development projects driven by the community.
“One of the ways I have used IPCR skills has been training leaders of our groups to understand their roles in the communities, to mediate the goals and expectations of group members and the communities they are working in,” Kurland said.
Kurland advises current IPCR students to take advantage of opportunities to travel. “The best thing I did was go abroad,” she said. “It opens a lot of doors.” She also recommends that students be open to the idea of international volunteer work.