The European Public Law Organization was conceived of in 2004, and was officially founded in 2007. The organization’s headquarters are located in Athens, Greece, and therefore the organization does a lot of work in both the middle east and in the mediterranean region. It is recognized as both an international legal personality and as a Greek National Institution, because of it’s work in The Hellenic Republic. The Organization has conducted extensive research in the area of public law and participates in international bodies and consulting endeavors. The Organization’s mission and work is relevant to any student currently studying International Affairs, because it deals with the promotion of European legal values. The idea of a set of values and laws which are applicable to an entire continent, not just a single nation, ties into the growth of globalization over the last century. International Affairs contends with the relationships and agreements between states and other sorts of international bodies. An understanding of European Judicial Values is of course, very important in a world where the European Union dominates so much of the economic and policy decisions being made in the European Continent, and where the United Nations seeks to bring more cohesion to the set of principles by which international activity is conducted. While state governments certainly play an enormous role in influencing the course of the global community, Organizations like the EPLO now have their own part to play. The EPLO is able to develop educational programing, intervene in subjective legal matters and provide expertise more rapidly and more effectively than a government can in many cases. For example, the EPLO’s work in Serbia, strengthening the country’s national assembly, demonstrates the role of an NGO in cases that require acute attention and specific expertise. An organization like the EPLO needs employees who are able to provide expertise through an understanding of global structures and crises, as well as legal terminology and history. A developed analysis of the dilemmas facing the European Community today would be useful, as well as an understanding of the historical and cultural contexts that inform public law across Europe. In turn, the organization would provide employees with an opportunity to see how development and education from an NGO change the way global systems operate. The EPLO’s work on specific cases in places like Afghanistan would provide employees with new perspectives that only real life experience can provide. There is only so much you can learn in a classroom setting and since the world is changing everyday, in positive and negative ways, the only way to keep up is to be involved in projects like the ones carried out by the EPLO.
The European Public Law Organization (EPLO) defines themselves as “an international organization dedicated to the creation and dissemination of knowledge in the area of Public Law and Governance, including but not limited to, national, comparative and European public law, human rights law and environmental law and the promotion of European values for a better generation of lawyers and democratic institutions worldwide.” This incredible international organization explains on their website their involvement in developing and organizing “over 200 educational, research, training, institution building and other activities and has provided assistance to democratic institutions in more than 70 countries”. The EPLO is directly involved in international affairs due to how they work hand in hand with the United Nations and other global peacekeeping organizations to ensure the promotion of European values and the development of even more qualified lawyers and international democratic institutions. There have been various international events and interactions that have effected the EPLO. One of which is the Agreement for the Establishment and Statute of the European Public Law Organization. This international agreement signifies that the members who sign it recognize “the importance of public law and the need to further promote its scientific, research, educational, training, institution building and other dimensions for a better generation of lawyers and democratic institutions worldwide, and the promotion of European values through public law throughout the world”. The EPLO is most likely looking to hire individuals with a passion for law and human rights. They are also most likely looking for well informed, organized individuals who want to make a change in the world. To prepare myself to work here I could become more involved in politics and take more courses involving international European law. I would gain experience working with international European lawyers and professors. These people could teach me how to be an effective international lawyer in Europe.
Quotations are courtesy of: http://www1.eplo.int/history
Having a strong interest in affairs related to the study and endeavors of human rights, one organization from the co-op program that seemed to be interesting and relevant to my career interests is the role of a Case Management Intern, Human Rights Intern at the International Institute of Boston, also known as the International Institute of New England. This organization, as stated on its main internet site explains that the mission is “to invest in the future of our cities and towns by preparing refugees and immigrants for participation in the social, economic and political richness of American life through active citizenship.” Essentially, this nongovernmental organization provides the services and programs that are needed to facilitate a successful transition for refugees coming to the United States and ensuring them successful and promising lives in their new home. The organization, which has roots in the early 1900s, began assisting refugees from European countries. Today, the NGO works with people from across the globe. In fact, in 2015, the institute helped to serve over 2,000 refugees from 66 countries. Teaching English skills, providing job training and employment opportunities, as well as paths towards American citizenship are some of the various ways in which the International Institute of Boston helps to provide the basic fundamental human rights to people who have struggled to maintain them in their other countries. The goal of this organization is to continue providing the services and programs necessary to give these refugees the tools they need to be successful in their transition to American life.
International events are central to the work of this organization, as the majority of these people who come through the institute are refugees from war-torn countries or places where their rights and liberties are nonexistent and they risk severe persecution if they remain. The organization explains that beyond European refugees in the beginning of the 20th century, new patterns of refugee migration began in the 1970s with people seeking refuge from Cambodia and Vietnam. Furthermore, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, many people fled from persecution to the states. Bosnians, Kurds, and Kosovars were many of the refugees that came in the 1990s due to war, conflict, and genocide. The Boston Institute worked hard to ensure these people would safely arrive in America and enjoy safety and freedom. Since the 2000s, many of the refugees arriving to the institute have come from war-torn areas such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Congo, Sudan, Syria, and some Central American nations with unstable governments and limited rights for its citizens. In the example of Sudan for example, the oppression of religious minorities by force, terror, and enslavement is a prime example of why people flee to America to seek protection and In general, international conflicts play a huge role in the work of this organization. In times of peace and international stability, the organization has fewer people coming to seek asylum and thus it can focus its energies on furthering resources for those in need that are already in America. For times of uncertainty, political instability, war, conflict, and other harmful crisis that affect humans globally.
Based on the services of education and literacy, civic engagement, Health and Mental Health Service Navigation, refugee resettlement, and employment, I believe that the organization is looking for someone who provides some of the tools and experiences to help with the programs offered by the NGO. Those students and community members who aspire to intern at the institution would most likely be required to help in the transition process. As one former employee explains her role as the opportunity to provide “intake interviews for clients recently granted asylum and helped clients apply for public benefits, social security, and the Masshealth health insurance program.” In addition the former worker explains her role to “make sure clients arrive at their appointments and classes on time, fields questions about cultural differences and customs, and provides orientation to day-to-day tasks including how to mail a letter, open a bank account, access food banks, and find warm clothing.” Much of the work that is expected is related to hands on work in preparing goods and services to give to the refugees as they need them. However, another aspect, that I believe is necessary for this internship is strong research skills to ensure that proper treatment is given to the people who need them. I believe the organization is looking for someone who is hardworking, dedicated, and motivated. Furthermore, the ability to communicate, stay organized, research specific topics, and remained active in understanding the root causes of refugee migration are essential. Most institutions look for people with technology skills, strong decision making abilities, and critical thinking skills that will help to address problems or conflicts as they arise. As far as experience goes, I believe the Institute is looking for international experience, language proficiency, and experience with clubs that work with human rights, social justice, and diversity. In order to prepare for the task I will need to continue involving myself in academic and social clubs, which address the questions of refugees and migration. Also, I will need to maintain a strong Grade Point Average and remain focused on achieving academic successes in my classes. Finally, I will need to look for further volunteer experiences that promote international affairs studies and human rights endeavors. This will help to solidify my resume and give me the necessary prerequisites to join this organization and work to provide for refugees coming to the United States of America.
I believe that there are a plethora of skills and experiences that I would gain from co-oping at this phenomenal location. For example, people skills and the ability to communicate with others in an efficient and effective manner. The interaction between peers and work colleagues is one that differs greatly from that of a student and professor. I also believe I will learn skills that are specific to the type of work and the proper format that reports, research, and other official documents need to be created and arranged. As with classes, I hope that I’ll be able to contribute my own ideas and perspectives into the workplace to make it better and more beneficial for everyone involved. I hope to gain more experience working in the area of international affairs, especially in terms of human rights. Refugees come from all over the world due to myriad conflicts, and it is essential that we provide them with the resources and necessities they need to live better lives without fear of oppression or persecution. I would further my understanding about the international enforcement of human rights and learn adequate ways to address the situations domestically and abroad. I hope that I will gain real-life working skills that will prove practical as I continue on my quest to become an international human rights lawyer and fight for people across the world who do not have their natural rights protected and enforced.
The International Institute of New England (IINE) is a non-profit organization with nearly a century of experience dedicated to serving and assisting refugees, asylees, immigrants, and afflicted populations of unfortunate circumstance throughout the Greater Boston area. It serves as an extension for the Massachusetts Office for Refugees and Immigrants by integrating and resettling these displaced populations into local communities as well as providing humanitarian relief, workforce development, social and health services, education and literacy, legal assistance, and guidance in both business and civic engagement. They have helped thousands in need from an array of different countries around the world, and impact the lives of many who both serve and represent its diverse international community.
So many of the decisions that the world community makes have an interconnected ripple-effect on particular populations in vulnerable or unstable regions of the world. The attempt to study International Affairs is an effort to better understand both the dynamics of our inter-relationship with one another as well as the direct and indirect consequences of our actions. In some cases, those actions have dire consequences for such aforementioned populations, which outlines the importance of organizations such as IINE.
There are a number of events in the world that have affected, continue to affect, or may potentially affect the IINE’s initiatives. Since the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the toppling of Saddam Hussein and his regime, Iraq has been left in shambles as a result of the Iraq War, and for millions of Iraqis, their way of life without hope. More recently, Syria has suffered a similar fate since the onset of the 2011 Syrian Civil War, also displacing millions. Though these are just two examples of refugee and displacement crises, the number of refugees that the IINE has helped to relocate has more than doubled due to an influx of individuals fleeing from these war-torn areas. As of today, a ban on refugees has been implemented by President Trump aimed at these two countries as well as several others from both the Middle East and Africa. How this will ultimately impact the IINE has yet to be fully measured, but it is likely that efforts to accommodate any incoming populations from these areas will be embraced however possible by the IINE and its greater community.
Depending on the specific role that one could pursue working as part of the team at IINE, there are a range of skills that could potentially contribute to their organization’s overall mission. However, a few may prove to be universal to all positions within the organization, such as the desire and passion to work with refugees and immigrants, patience and compassion, the ability to speak another language other than English, the ability to multi-task, excellent communication and advocacy skills, and a high-level of professionalism. If I were to pursue a work opportunity with IINE, in order to better prepare myself for such a role, I would most likely take courses at Northeastern that taught about the history and politics of a specified region, which, if considering my earlier examples, would be courses such as the Modern Middle East, Middle Eastern History and Culture, or Government and Politics in the Middle East. Additionally, it would be a great advantage to take language classes in Arabic, particularly because majority of the countries in the region speak a variety of Arabic dialects. Finally, developing experiences in both volunteer and advocacy work would be suitable work experience that would prove useful and valuable to IINE.
I feel that it would be rewarding to work with this organization, because not only would I develop in-depth knowledge behind the circumstances of refugees and the regions they flee from, but I’d have the opportunity to promote social programs that empower and benefit an international community that is greatly in need of acceptance and support. I imagine the experiences that I’d encounter would be touching and multicultural to say the least, and allow me to build a skill set capable of independent oversight, task management, use of a foreign language, and perhaps even development administration. These particular skills are fittingly applicable to jobs in the Foreign Service as well as working in the Peace Corps. Though not limited to those career paths, they are highly valued skills to each of those organizations.
The organization that I chose is the NATO Defence College. It was established in November of 1951 and is an international military college for NATO countries in Rome, Italy. According to Dwight D. Eisenhower, it’s purpose is for the “training of individuals who will be needed to serve in key capacities in NATO Organisations.” This institution is an exemplary coordination of international efforts to form an international government factored around law, diplomacy and international military cooperation.
The recent terrorist attack on Istanbul, Turkey, has caused a shake up in the college. All the flags outside of the NDC in Rome were at half-mast to show their solidarity with Turkey. More recently, NATO and the NDC are now being left in a vulnerable position after President Donald Trump has claimed numerous times, his intention to pull the U.S. out from NATO. One of the main missions of the NDC is to promote cohesion between the allies, which is proving to be more and more difficult with this upset of traditional power. Many smaller European countries, such as Lithuania and Latvia, are very much concerned over this issue. Without the allegiance of the U.S., Russia may attempt to annex more regions of its former empire, like they did in Crimea. If that were the case, NATO would lack the power to protect its more vulnerable elements in the East, and may lead to the resurgence of a more powerful Russia.
According to the NDC website, their internship program is aimed at providing recent students with the opportunity to “intern” in various sectors of the NDC. The program wishes to supplement teachings in the classroom by giving candidates experiences working in an international institution. The formal requirements for the internship as a whole is that the candidates should be studying in the fields of Political Science, International Relations, Security Studies, Media Studies, or any related fields. There are more specific skills that have to do with the particular program a candidate may apply for. For instance, the Middle East Faculty would require candidates to have good levels of English and Arabic proficiency, with a side knowledge of either French or Italian. Other skills include proficiency in the Office package, flexibility, communication, organization, team oriented work approach, and the use of social media tools. A recurring theme is mandatory proficiency in English, as well as knowledge of a foreign language such as Italian. This ties in well with the International Relations course in Northeaster, as students will have to take a language course up to intermediate level. Personally, if I would like to become a policy intern at the NDC, I would have to take at least two classes of either French and Italian, while working on my soft skills, such as enhanced communication and refining my ability to make interpersonal relations. This could be easily done through interacting with more people at lecture halls, or organising study groups to increase group oriented work approach. However, it is emphasised that to work formally for the NDC, or NATO, one must be a national from the countries participating in the treaty organization.
Perhaps one of the more undermined benefits a candidate may have is the expanded understanding of NATO and international alliances. Skills earned may be enhanced use of foreign languages, more fluid interactions with colleagues from different countries, as well as better organisational skills. However, there are distinct benefits in working with a diverse group in a multicultural environment, such as tolerance. The knowledge gained about how the NATO alliance works would also supplement what students learn in their International Affairs and Globalisation classes, being a real life example of international cooperation. I believe that working at the NDC would prepare candidates to work for large international institutions, which may be daunting for many.
The organization I chose is the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. This organization was created by the United States Government and is a non-partisan institution that conducts research on important and current global and domestic issues. The stated goal of the Wilson Center is to connect “the worlds of academia and public policy”, so that politicians can make decisions based on the most current and pertinent information.
The most recent international event that will have the greatest impact on the Wilson Center is the recent United States elections. The Wilson center receives a substantial amount of its funding from the federal government, meaning that changing government policies related to funding can affect the amount of research it’s able to conduct. Additionally, the election of Donald Trump brings in a whole new set of social and economic policies that need to be analyzed and explored. Examples would be Trump’s stated goal to repeal the affordable care act, and his recent executive order to leave the Trans-Pacific partnership. A radically new presidency (particularly this one) means a lot of new policies, and a lot of new potential research topics for the Wilson Center.
In searching for potential employees, the Wilson Center probably looks for high achieving students who are knowledgeable about their desired areas of study. Additionally, the co-op student should be receptive to any and all criticism, as it will be their first time in a job environment. Communication is also a crucial skill both during the job interview and once the student is actually at the center. Communication helps with inter-employee relations and with presentation skills. Organization is another important skill for a potential co-op student because they will likely have a heavy workload and multiple scheduled tasks, and staying on top of all their work is key. One last skill anyone should have is understanding how research is conducted and be knowledgeable with various methods and techniques.
Working any Co-Op would grow skills like communication and organization, and the Wilson Center would be no different. I believe that the greatest skills which I would acquire would be those surrounding research. Working at the Wilson Center would show me how advanced research methods are conducted in the modern world, and then how that data is processed into meaningful and presentable statistics. I would also gain valuable experience working in an NGO connected to the government. This would give me insight into how NGO’s operate, and how organizations that are bound to governments operate. Additionally, if I worked with presenting statistics I would learn about how politicians use information in the legislative process.
Our world is a very diverse and complex place made up of billions of people from all walks of life. For me, international affairs have always been a topic of interest because of the global context. I have always had a profound interest in Latin America, which is an area that I attend to pursue in my career. To me, Latin America has rich history, culture, diversity, and political systems. Further, while it has great aspects, they also have severe issues in areas of human rights and equality, which I believe to be two of the most important factors that our world today lacks. I have always been passionate about human rights. I began my work in human rights when I started volunteering at a museum that examined the life of a white teacher in the 1800s who took the challenge of teaching minority students because of her firm believe that everyone is entitled to education and opportunity to succeed in the workplace. I took this story to heart and have tried to apply its universal messages to my daily life. Also, my grandfather and his family were survivors of the horrors of the Holocaust in Europe. This tragic and unthinkable display of genocide and hate has also driven me to work on behalf of everyone and their rights, no matter where they are from or what they look life or believe in. Human rights are as much a part of me as any other defining feature in my life. However, specifically looking into my goal of working in the Latin American tract, my early school years provide insight for such a prospect. Since I begin taking Spanish courses in middle school, I learned not only the language, but about the different cultural groups that exist throughout the Latin American world. I also found that many of these indigenous groups lost ancestral lands, traditions, and other important heritage aspects in order to fit the needs of the government or assimilate into society.
I am interested in both the policy aspect of the job as well as hands-on involvement towards problem solving and improvement of conditions in these given areas of the world. One of the things that I hope to do with this specialization after receiving my undergraduate degree is to attend law school and work towards a career in international human rights law. This has been a goal of mine for many years and I strive to achieve this in my life. However, if this career choice does not ultimately pan out as I plan it to; there are numerous other options of jobs and occupations I can pursue with an NGO or a large international organization such as the United Nations, Arab League, or the European Union. Furthermore, for both the Latin American region, diplomacy is an option for a career following school. Working with political, economic, and social groups in foreign countries is a way in which this degree can be a useful tool to ensure a career in the specialization of human rights and ensure that my work helps to benefit the lives of people.
While a career in international human rights law is my pinnacle goal, there are many steps that I need to take in order to achieve such success. Of course, this starts with the classes that I choose to enroll in at Northeastern. If I were to receive a Bachelor’s degree in the field of International Affairs with Latin American studies concentration I would have to take several required classes as well as electives, which would fit y topical track. Requirements for this track include Spanish Language, Latino, Latin America, and Caribbean Studies, comparative politics, international conflict and negotiations, The World Since 1945, Peoples and Cultures, Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, and Globalization and International Affairs. However, while these are mandatory for the major, there are also many elective options that I believe to be useful and necessary for my career choice. I would include government and politics in Latin America, The Black experience in the Caribbean, Modern Latin America, and Cuban history through film. Finally, I would enjoy taking Globalism, Racism, and Human rights. These classes, to me, are the most interesting and meaningful. Firstly, they all revolve around the study of human rights, minority issues, migration, social justice, and historical development of modern trends. I would also take these classes because they provide different lenses by which to look at society. Some of the classes are history while others are based on culture, African American studies, and even economics. The multiple dimensions of the courses offer myriad perspectives and unique ways to learn, understand, and challenge the information that is presented. As I continue to take Spanish language classes, I know that cultural elements will also be added to the classes, which will help me to teach the native language of the groups of people in which I aspire to work with.
Three faculty members that specialize in my field and that I would desire to work with include Dr. Jose Buscaglia, Dr. Amilcar Antonio Barreto, and Dr. Yanet Canavan. All three of these of these professors have proven to be strong researchers, and experts in their fields of Latin America and Spanish. I would be honored to work with any of these members because of their careers and expertise in their field of study. However, the work of Dr. Jose Buscaglia stood out to me the most. As his profile from the Northeastern University website explains, “One of his long-standing interests is the ideology of racialism and the institutional persistence of the concept of race as it continues to inform power relations on a global scale. More recently, he has been focusing on reclaiming supra-national formulations for rethinking geo-political possibilities and citizenship rights in the Greater Caribbean and the Western Hemisphere. ” The profile further explains how he “coined the neologism of “mulataje” as a practice of thinking and being that, since the 16th Century, has continuously attempted to undo the calculations of racialist ideology and its mechanisms of labor control and social policing. He has also reclaimed the term “Usonian” to refer to the peoples, nationalist ideologies and neo-imperial tradition of the United States of America.” Dr. Buscaglia’s work in examining racism and aspects of social and political life in Latin America and the Caribbean aligns with my tracts of Latin American Studies with the topical tract of human rights and social justice. I am excited to continue learning and exploring my major in international affairs, and I am hopeful for the opportunity to collaborate with a professor in research in the near future as well as explore ways in which I can use my major to bring positive change to the campus, the community, and ultimately the world.
I initially took an interest in studying International Affairs after my first experience abroad in 2010. It was during that time that my global interests began to spawn new ideas for what I wanted to do with my life. Subsequently, those ideas continued to draw from both personal and professional experiences over time that helped provide a bit more focus to my endeavors. While my current and more specific interests in the subject didn’t simply develop overnight, I’ve become most interested in the political and diplomatic aspects of International Affairs. Seeing how much the mentality of a society and its government is driven by politics, and how those perceptions ultimately shape policy and diplomacy efforts both domestically and abroad, I find it to be the most exciting area to implement change on a global scale.
Although I’m still working out the details and certainty of what exactly I would like to do with my degree after graduation, I have a combined interest in exploring a career with the State Department’s Foreign and Civil Service, and I would equally like to play an important role in American and international politics. I believe that by pursuing the Politics and Diplomacy topical track, I will be better able and qualified to fulfill such a role and pursuit. My more recent experience working for the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute, in the spring of 2015, allowed me get a first-hand idea of what government life could be like as well as what it would take to become a Foreign Service Officer. Considering my interests, working as a diplomat, specifically as a Political Officer, seems to offer the kind of opportunity I’m searching for to try and effectuate change.
A regional focus is a bit more difficult for me to decide, as I’m still unsure of what geographic location interests me the most, but I’m loosely leaning toward Europe and Latin America, mainly because most of my abroad experiences have been in those parts of the world, and I can speak both Spanish and Portuguese. To build upon what I already know about its history and better equip my knowledge of the region, Modern Latin America or Government and Politics in Latin America would be sensible courses to take to best understand the current political climate and socioeconomic backgrounds of Latin American nations. Professor Denise Garcia, a Brazilian native and associate professor of both Political Science and International Affairs, teaches two particular courses that would contribute greatly to my specific focus, with Global Governance of International Security & the World Politics of Diplomacy at the United Nations in Geneva, a program that would not only add dynamic depth to the subject matter, but provide a unique way to study International Affairs through the eyes of the United Nations (UN), or World Politics and International Law through the United Nations, which would be a home-based alternative to studying abroad, generally about the same subject. Her background and ties to the UN could present me with a strong resource for future international opportunities, and in addition to being able to practice my Portuguese with her, she also teaches the required International Conflict and Negotiation course for the major. Working with her would be a unique pleasure.
Then there is Professor Mai’a Cross, who specializes in the areas of European politics, foreign and security policy, and diplomacy. In-depth expertise in these subjects would help any diplomat to become more effective in the field, and Cross’ academic qualifications from both Princeton and Harvard most certainly wouldn’t hurt with attempting to network within the political and governmental arena. She also teaches Politics and Governance of Europe and the European Union as well as Global Governance, which each have an underlying focus rooted in diplomacy and politics as they are collaboratively approached between various political actors and institutions. The two courses could help me to have a better understanding of the European region and its people, but also of the systems that they operate within.
Additionally, there is Professor Ioannis Livanis, who offers expertise in the areas of intergovernmental relations and governance, with a special attention to policy agreements, and additional background in Europe and the European Union. I find his focus on policy and compliance to be a useful tool in understanding the dynamics of European governance as a comparative approach to the structural differences of each member’s own bureaucracy and interests. Among some of his courses, he teaches the core International Affairs and Political Science course of Comparative Politics, which is an important prerequisite to a number of more advanced topics in both majors. I believe Livanis could provide a greater perspective of the institutions behind European policy initiatives and allow me to better understand what role U.S. diplomatic efforts can contribute in successfully continuing and empowering those international partnerships.
I wish to mention one final important and distinquished faculty member, whom I’d sincerely love to work with during my time at Northeastern, and that person is former Governor Michael Dukakis. I’m entertaining the idea that I may pursue a combined major in International Affairs with Political Science, or possibly minor in Political Science, and I’ve already interacted with Dukakis prior to coming to campus. After sitting in as a guest on his Public Policy and Administration class last fall and having the privilege to speak with him one on one during his office hours, he offered to help in any way that he could to connect me with the right people that might best direct my political interests and preparation for the Foreign Service. His connections as a former presidential candidate and governor could prove to be priceless, and personally speaking, he was a truly humble, inspiring, and kind individual who was eager to help. It would be both a privilege and exceptional pleasure to work with him in any capacity.
“That’s the whole point of of the Eurovision Song Contest, of course, to sneer at the foreigners.” – Terry Wogan
To stroll through the old cobble pavement, the roads of which many great men have walked. Europe has always compelled me, while many assume that populations in Asia could not be further from Europe, we have deep ties that run centuries long. When I run along the streets of Malacca, or when I take the rail, I am confronted by Malaysia’s colonial past. Despite being independent for over half-a-century, there is no denying the influence British hegemony has had on my homeland. From growing up with the hauntings of decolonisation, I only had more questions for the Old World.
One should remember that Malaysia is merely 56-years old, barely older than my parents. I always had a burning question, one that no one could quite answer partially; did colonialism really work? Did the British manage to civilise us, or did we develop out of necessity for survival. Looking at development in ex-colonies interests me, for the reason that I am currently living in this era. Development is not an abstract idea for me, it is the reality I have grown up and lived in. This is why I am quite interested in working for the United Nations, but I am also quite interested in becoming a professor. Some other options also include going into international law, or becoming a diplomat. The beauty of International Relations is that one can do many things with it in the future.
After looking through the course catalogues, and shifting through all the prerequisites, these courses caught my interest:
- INTL 2240 – Global Population and Development
- INTL 4350 – Ethnography of Southeast Asia
- HIST 7205 – Nations and Nationalism
- HIST 7206 – Gender, Colonialism, and Postcolonialism
Most of these courses have a lot to do with nationalism and national identity. As colonies, our “identity” was that of which was projected to us. Many aspects of our culture was taken away from us, and instead replaced with aspects of the colonialists’ culture. Therefore, with decolonisation, we were suddenly given the freedom to be who we are. This discovery of national identity, in conjunction with development of the country allows me to learn more of how my country, and many others, have gotten to their contemporary positions.
There is a diverse range of intelligent and wonderful faculty members who are also interested in development. Some professors whom I am interested to work with are Doreen Lee, Gavin Shatkin, and Heather Streets-Salter. Doreen Lee specialises in Southeast Asia, and has written an interesting book about Indonesia and how decolonisation has led to radicalisation in the country. Heather Streets-Salter has written an interesting monograph on the impacts of WW1 on Southeast Asia. Lastly, Gavin Shatkin takes an interesting perspective on Southeast Asian cities, by looking at globalization and the subsequent urban poverty stemming from it. This tie to architecture interests me as my parents are both architectures, and I have never thought there would be a connection between Architecture and International Relations. He is also the director of the Asian Studies program, and would be an amazing contact point to learn more about the teaching field and how to get more involved.
I was looking at the regional track for Latin American studies. This is a topic that has always interested me; so much so that I applied for the Hispanic culture dialogue to Peru and am considering getting a minor in Spanish. I think focusing on Latin America first became an interest to me during my high school American history class. We were looking at the Monroe doctrine, and even though it’s an outdated, imperialist concept, there was something about it that clicked for me.
While this was not the original intent of the Monroe doctrine, I believe that a potential evolution of the document could be that the United States should play a larger role in aiding its fellow countries in the Americas. The United States hands out a lot of aid to many different countries, but I think it should focus more on our hemisphere. Many of the negative situations Central American countries are currently in have been caused or affected by old United States imperialist policies. Additionally, assisting poorer Central and South American countries, could help them grow, which could only benefit the United States. Free trade policies have already been successful in North America and exploring the expansion of NAFTA could continue to benefit all the countries involved. I guess my interest in this regional track stems from the fact that I think the United States should be helping out more of the countries close to home, and that I think the end result of this help could benefit all the involved parties.
This specialization could potentially help me find a job working for the United States government in the state department, or elsewhere. It could also help me find a job with some company that has business or is looking to expand its business into Central or South America.
World Regions is a course that pertains to this area of study because it examines the important issues and characteristics of many areas, and also compares them. I would take this course to get an overview on South America as a region, and to understand what makes it unique, and what it has in common with other parts of the globe.
Latin American Society and Development would be an obvious course for me to take once I acquire all the prerequisites. It’s a class that fits perfectly with the regional track for Latin America and needs no further explanation for why it’s a perfect fit.
Professor Laura Kuhl’s area of expertise is international environmental policy and sustainable development. She has done field research across the world, including in Honduras and Peru. Professor Noemi Voionmaa is the Director of Latino, Latin American, and Caribbean Studies. As the Director, he would definitely be someone to work with due to his position as director. Professor Amilcar Antonio Barreto has published multiple books on Puerto Rico and is an Associate professor of cultures, societies, and global studies.
I think it would be very interesting to work with Professor Kuhl on sustainable development. Her work is very pertinent to the area. Latin America has rapidly growing cities, and communities without access to any modern technology. Sustainable innovation can be helpful in cities, which tend to produce huge amounts of air pollution. Additionally, sustainable technology can help increase the standard of living in many rural communities.