Hola! My name is Xenia Arinez de la Vega and I’m a senior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst majoring in journalism and pursuing a certificate in translation and interpreting studies. I’m originally from La Paz, Bolivia, but after a gap year and a lot of thinking, I decided to move to the US to pursue my college degree. I started out in Virginia but transferred to UMass Amherst in part to be closer to my dad, who lived in Rhode Island at the time. During my first two years here I lived in Sylvan, Central, and Northeast, but I moved off campus for my senior year. If I had to describe my experience at UMass Amherst, I would say that it’s been an adventure. There’s always something new and sometimes unexpected around the corner; you never know what awaits behind a door if you dare to open it (my advice: open as many doors as you can).
Why did you choose your major?
I chose journalism for mainly two reasons. I love writing more than anything in the world. I believe that writing is one of the most wonderful ways of communicating. Journalism is also in my blood. My grandfather (Julio de la Vega for those in the know about Bolivian writers) was a prominent journalist, novelist, and poet in Bolivia. One of my earliest memories is being in his office surrounded by a million books, magazines, and newspapers. If I’m being honest, my passion for writing and journalism is in large part thanks to him. Be it a letter, a newspaper article, or a text, writing is how we connect with each other and the world. Journalism in any form, is a way to keep the world not only connected, but also informed, which in and of itself is a pillar of freedom and democracy.
I chose the certificate translation and interpreting studies because I’m passionate about language. A fun fact about me is that I speak five languages (three fluently), and my goal is to be fluent in all five of them, and learn a sixth by the time I’m thirty. I strongly believe that language should build bridges, not walls. By studying translation and interpretation I can contribute my grain of sand to build those bridges.
I was able to combine both of my passions thanks to the Massachusetts Daily Collegian. The Collegian translation department strives to make our stories accessible to everyone, regardless of preferred language. It’s our mission to keep everyone on campus, and the Amherst community, informed about the daily happenings at UMass Amherst and in the area.
What's something that most people don't know or wrongly assume about your major?
People tend to think that journalism is dying. We’re living in a time where trust in news is at an all-time low and—thanks to social media—where it’s increasingly easy to spread fake news all over the globe. In addition to this, the internet and technology have largely replaced print mediums, and even broadcast TV and radio. However, none of this means that journalism is dying — it’s quite the contrary. Because of the immediacy of the internet, the new multimedia nature of news, and the spread of inaccurate news, news reporters are more active than ever trying to keep up with the 24-hour news cycle, all while keeping stories accurate and producing for multiple media.
What is your favorite place on campus?
My favorite place on campus is definitely Durfee Conservatory. I discovered it last year while taking a class that dealt with mindfulness practices (meditation and things like that), and someone mentioned it. I went there to check it out, and let me tell you, it was like walking into Narnia. I walked in and February turned into September, all the snow magically disappearing, and giving way into an incredible garden. My favorite part about Durfee though, is how quiet it is. It’s perfect for when I’m having an anxious day, or just want to spend some quiet time.