I attended one of the meetings of the UNICEF group on campus, after getting on their mailing list at the start of the semester. The UNICEF group here at Northeastern works to build grassroots momentum for the mission of protecting the rights of the world’s children. UNICEF does work in 150 different countries around the world, helping to ensure that every child will someday have a chance at a healthy and safe life. It is important that people continue to prioritize groups like UNICEF, and that public interest in the work they do is maintained. The group does volunteer work in the Boston community as well as raising awareness. At the meeting I attended, we spent time discussing a date for volunteering with community table. It is great that the organization not only brings attention to the work UNICEF is already doing, but actually branches out and brings its own initiatives to our city. It is a great way to put your motivation into direct action. UNICEF even threw a gala at Northeastern this semester, and organized a clothing drive that people could donate to on campus. Although I did not have time this semester to be involved regularly with the organization, I am planning on becoming an active member next fall. I hope to do work surrounding human rights in the future, and it is great to get involved right away with an organization that works to protect the most vulnerable members of our population.
My peer mentor group attended a meeting about the path to becoming a lawyer. This was very helpful for me, as I am seriously considering going to law school after my undergraduate degree. The event speaker was Susannah Barton Tobin, who currently works at Harvard Law School. I found the event to be very enjoyable, and Tobin provided some great personal insight into the journey of becoming a lawyer, rather than just giving us the technical details. I learned that going to law school is something I should really take the time to think about and decide if it is really the right fit for me. I am someone who really enjoys academia, and a PhD allows you to delve deeply into a particular area of academia. However, I am also very eager to see myself in action, doing the work I am passionate about. Law school allows you to do serious internships during the time you are getting your degree, and the whole process takes several years less than a PhD. Law School can also be something that, for many people, ends up being a stressful and miserable experience. The bottom line is, it is not for everyone and it should not be entered into without having already done some sort of internship in the field. This means that I will probably want to do one of my co-ops at either a firm or an organization that has an important law department. Tobin also talked about the idealistic expectations she had about being a lawyer when she was younger, and how that’s not always the way things play out. For example, her life’s dream had been to work for the ACLU. The ACLU stands up for the civil liberties of all citizens, a mission that Tobin strongly identified with. She did end up working there at one point in her life, and was once given the task of defending a few members of the Ku Klux Klan. They had been distributing pamphlets throughout a town in Massachusetts, and had been stopped by police. Of course, this is in line with what the ACLU stands for- freedom of political expression. However, this was not the work Susannah had dreamed of doing when she was younger. Not every part of your career as a lawyer is going to allow you to impact the world in the positive way you want to. There are times when you have to do work you don’t entirely agree with, or that you don’t agree with at all. Since I am a person hoping to do work regrading human rights in the future, I think that is important for me to keep in mind. I have to be realistic about my career and stop myself from being completely discouraged when I cannot succeed in changing the things I care about. Tobin also talked about the different way your career can evolve throughout the years. She spent years as a court clerk and now works at the same law school she attended. There are many ways to use your degree throughout your life.
This semester I attended an event on campus regarding one of the most important political issues of our times: The Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Huskies for Israel brought two speakers who had both worked together at an environmental research organization in a rural part of Israel. The organization hopes to bring people together for the common good of protecting the environment for future generations. We will all be effected negatively if the degradation of the natural world continues. One speaker was a Palestinian man, while the other was an Israeli woman. They both came from such different backgrounds, but they both agreed that Israelis and Palestinians are widely segregated from each other, and there is limited positive interaction. Both of them were isolated in their own ethnic groups growing up, and they emphasized how strange it was to people around them that they wanted to work at the institute. They told incredible and moving stories about their lives in the conflict ridden region. The Palestinian man talked about his relationship with religion growing up, and the way he had become the more secular person he was today. He talked about his friend’s warnings that he would be pacified by the Israelis if he went to the environmental institute. The Israeli woman talked about what it meant to protest the government in the current political climate, and how people were oftentimes extremely aggressive towards people who spoke out publically. It was interesting that the experience at the institute had made the Israeli woman more liberal, and the Palestinian man more centrist in his ideas about the conflict. She had become more critical of Israeli policy and he had become less hating of Israeli people as a whole. Both of these people agreed that while the institute did a lot of good for the people who came there, it was not easily accessible to many others. Its reach is not far enough to affect the entire region. I left the meeting extremely impacted by what these people had said. I consider myself to be very pro-Palestinian, and it was very heartening to hear the perspective of a liberal Israeli like this woman, who had so many insights to add to the conversation. Before this event, I had only heard the perspectives of Jews living in the United States. Living in the region itself is very different. It was also interesting to hear from a secular Palestinian, since people have largely generalized the population as all Muslim fundamentalists like Hamas. The “Huskies for Israel students in the room seemed to want assurance from Mohammad, the Palestinian, that he now understood that his was wrong to hate Israelis. I admired the diplomatic way he responded by telling them that Israel was its own worst enemy.
1. What is it like being a dual major with International Affairs?
2. What are some of the paths you have thought about pursuing with your degree?
3. What was the most important class you took at Northeastern?
STEPS FOR ADDRESSING GRADE:
- Read through the comments made by my professor very thoroughly, so I am aware of why they think the lower grade was fair.
- Read their policy on grades and the way the course is weighted
- Email the professor to set up a meeting discussing a course of action
- Meet with professor and be clear about what my goals are.
I recently submitted my midterm assignment for your section one class. I have viewed my grade for the midterm assignment on blackboard, and I would like to discuss some of the feedback I received. I know that this assignment is weighted heavily for our final grade, and I would really appreciate a meeting where we could discuss why I received a lower grade, and what I can do during the rest of my time in this course. I really value your guidance, and of course wish to get as much out of your class as possible.
I took your conflict negotiation class my sophomore year at Northeastern. The class was small, and allowed me to voice my opinions and listen to others. It was one of the most influential experiences I have had at this school, and provided me with a lot of clarity about what I am passionate about. I have now begun the process of applying to graduate school, and when I was asked to provide a recommendation letter, your name was the first that came to mind. I feel like I thrived in your class, and grew a lot as a student and critical thinker. The highlights of the course for me were our presentations on land disputes in the former USSR territories, and of course our class debate on nuclear deterrence. My argumentation skills became so developed through the research I did for these assignments.
I am applying to the International Law program at NYU. The university looks for students who are passionate and have a variety of unique experiences, but it also looks for people who have a strong academic background and are adept at deep critical thinking and meaningful argumentation. It would mean so much to me if you felt that my time in your class could help me on my way towards a career in International Law. The deadline is two months out, so there is no rush in considering my offer.
- How can I make sure I graduate with fluency in a foreign language?
- How many co-ops do you recommend for this major?
- What are some of the most important and interesting classes offered in this department?
This week, I chose to focus on two law schools in the Boston area, Harvard Law School and Boston University Law School. I’m interested in getting a degree in International Law so that I can hopefully go onto a career in development and/or policy work, with a focus on global poverty. A degree in International Law allows for a lot of versatility, and the ability to change your path during your years of work. I could be employed in anything from the state department to Amnesty International, and even transition to different projects throughout my career. The schools I chose are the most competitive in the Boston area for law, and in this particular field, the ranking of your graduate school matters quite a lot. Although it is still possible to practice law without a top school, to reach the elite level of this field, it is important to graduate from somewhere impressive. I hope to reach a level where I am involved in international political crisis, as opposed to being a more traditional, courtroom lawyer. I could, potentially, just receive my BA in Political Science and International Affairs, and still do similar work, however, there are many more interesting opportunities for someone with an advanced degree under their belt. There is also more mobility to rise in a certain company or organization. For example, organizations like Amnesty International employee human rights lawyers as part of their staff. I would also be very interested in work surrounding policy reform. There are many organizations, such as consumer rights groups in Washington DC, that assist in writing legislation that is put before congress. This job, of course, requires a law degree, and could allow for a me to have a direct way to create tangible change. There are a few faculty members that I would be very excited to work with at these schools. William P. Alford is a professor at Harvard Law School. He is the Vice Dean for International Legal Studies at the school, the field I hope to study in. At Boston University, I would be excited to work with Robert D. Sloane, who specializes in International Law, and International Criminal Law. They are both clearly experts in the field that I want to pursue, and would provide me with not only a great education, but also with a network of connections that could help me with my future career.
Throughout high school, I was lucky enough to have wonderful Spanish language teachers who sparked my interest in both the language and the region of Latin America. I want to use my degree in International Affairs to pursue a career in development and policy work, and hopefully focus on underdeveloped nations and regions. Latin America has a long and incredibly interesting history, and a lot of economic and political reform is needed in many parts of the region. To be able to work with people from those countries, I need to be able to have a complete understanding of their language. Right now, I am taking a Spanish course, and after I complete it I will be done with language requirements. However, Northeastern offers a wide variety of advanced courses in the language, such as different electives, a Spanish class focused on global communication, and multiple immersion courses. I hope to continue my studies to a high level of fluency, that will allow me to do work in Spanish speaking countries. Of course, there is only so much you can learn in a classroom setting, where the lessons are planned out and tailored for the students. That’s why it is important to take full advantage of the study abroad programs, dialogues and co-ops available at Northeastern. There are many opportunities to study at Spanish speaking universities, such as the program at the Universitat de Barcelona. There is also a language based dialogue that goes to Argentina, and numerous co-ops in Spain and Latin America. The only way to raise your comfort in a language to the next level, is to spend an extended period of time, submerged in it on a daily basis, with native speakers. The co-ops, especially, would require me to use the Spanish language in a way I would never have to in conversation. I could be using it in a professional setting, and talking about work related things, as opposed to casual every day things. This would add another level to my understanding, one that would translate well into my future career. Outside of Northeastern, there are complete immersion programs that are offered for anyone who wants to become fluent in a short span of time. These programs would be perfect if I wanted to improve my skills quickly before a co-op started, where I would be expected to speak the language every day.
I chose to write about the study abroad program offered at Al-Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco, a small city in the mountains of the country. The program requires student to participate in a 3-week course in Moroccan language and culture, before beginning their actual school work. In my opinion, there are few places that demand as much international consideration and attention as the Arab World, which Morocco is a part of. The dynamics of the region have changed incredibly swiftly in recent years due to externally and internally driven wars, alongside phenomenons such as the Arab Spring. Although Morocco is in no way the prime example of recent destabilization in the Arab World, it is not really a possibility to study abroad in Syria or The West Bank. There is still incredible merit to studying in a country where one can be emerged in the cultural values of the Arab People. Organizations and governments hoping to provide greater stability and safety to the region must first understand its history and culture. The priorities and visions the Arab people have for their own future do not necessarily mirror Western values, and this needs to be reconciled and respected. Conflicts like the Iraq war are a perfect example of how devastating Western ignorance and misunderstanding can be, when brought to an already volatile situation. Being in the region for a prolonged period of time can provide a frame of reference that removed observation cannot necessarily give students. Since I hope to build a career working in NGOs that deal with policy and development in destabilized or underdeveloped regions, this study abroad would be the perfect experience to further prepare me. The people employed to deal with regions like this should be as educated as they possibly can be on the needs of the people. It is futile to apply ones own set of priorities and values to a country where the citizens do not share that vision. Outsiders do not know the daily needs of the country’s own people better than they do. I can read endless books and journals, written by Western Academics, about the problems with the Arab Civilization, and I will still be making decisions based on secondary sources. To be a true critical thinker and problem solver, I must have both a removed structural analysis and a sense of the situation grounded in the reality of peoples lives. I believe that traveling to different places for something other than vacation is very important to anyone hoping to build a global consciousness. Of course, it is not easy to absorb into another culture, especially one that is so significantly removed from your own. The people of Morocco are, for the most part, fairly religious. Therefore, things like overt public displays of affection, smoking in the streets or wearing revealing clothing are less likely to be condoned by the locals. Although the people of the country do not usually expect visitors to adhere to their practices, foreigners living in the country should be aware and try not to do anything that is a clear a front to the ways of Islam. A different standard for gendered behavior goes along with the religiosity of country. For example, it is much less common for women to smoke or drink in public, in non-urban areas, basically all women will be wearing at least a headscarf. It is also necessary to be aware that a non-Muslim visitor is differentiated from Muslim visitors. For example, non-Muslims cannot enter the Mosques in the country, they can only view them from outside. The same goes for other religious structures, such as the tombs of local saints. Overall, I as a female would definitely have to be very aware of my behavior in Morocco, in a way I do not need to be in The United States. There is much of a universal standard for proper and respectful behavior, because it is a Muslim dominated population. Mannerisms, customs for guests and other ways of showing your respect are also more relevant. It is definitely not impossible to adapt to the culture, but it does take a level of self awareness that is not required to appear respectable in social situations in most Western Countries.
- Human Development Index is .732 and its rank in the world in #88
- The GDP growth percentage was .50% as of 2016
- The Adolescent fertility rate in Ecuador was .76% as of 2015
- The total defense budget for Ecuador is $2.3 billion
- As of 2015, over 93% of Ecuadorians had access to fresh water supplies
- As of 2016, the overall labor force participation rate of Ecuador was 69.2%, with the female to male ratio being 67% as of 2014
- The Corruption Perceptions Index score for Ecuador was 31 in 2016, and their ranking was #120
- Although Spanish is the most commonly spoken language in Ecuador, there is a significant percentage of the population that speaks the native language of Quechua, and the languages have influenced each other in this nation. Ecuadorians are much more physically affectionate than people in the United States, a quality exemplified by the fact that they often kiss each other on the cheek as a greeting. They are very animated when they speak.
- Ecuadorian workplaces expect formal and professional attire, but they do not place much importance on expensive fashions. There are formal/informal verbs tenses and pronouns in Spanish, and sometimes higher-ups prefer to be addressed formally, though as people familiarize with each other, this expectation may be dropped. The Ecuadorians do value time, but not in a rigid way. They are flexible within reason, and people do not always need to arrive to work on the dot, as long as they are there as a respectable time.