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Elliott School Graduate Student and Entrepreneur Wins Two Scholarships! by Matthew Bernal

Elliott School Graduate Admissions:

Congrats to current student, Mikaela Romero!!

Originally posted on smarterperspectives:

mikaela
Second-year graduate student Mikaela Romero, recently was awarded a $1,200 scholarship from Results International for her efforts in reaching out to scholars through an organization she co-founded at GW, Smarter Perspectives. Additionally, Ms. Romero was awarded $2,000 dollars through the Michele Manatt Endowed Fellowship. To qualify for the Michele Manatt Endowed Fellowship, applicants must show a commitment to studying women’s/girls’ issues in developing countries through coursework, research interests, and internships.

Mikaela, a graduate of UC Santa Cruz, is attending George Washington University’s Elliot School of International Affairs, is now working with Results International, an interdisciplinary research and consulting company, where she is in charge the company’s professional development programs and co-directs key aspects of their Research Division. Her responsibilities include “personelle management, training and introducing of new members, scheduling of events and deadlines, as well as public relations and overseeing the program’s social media’” she explained in a recent…

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Student Highlight: Alissa Fromkin

This week’s summer highlight is from Alissa Fromkin, an incoming student into the M.A. in Middle East Studies.  Alissa graduated from Boston University and recently had an incredible opportunity to spend her summer in Israel.  Check out her story below!

A Different Side of Israel

This summer I had the opportunity to travel to Israel.  My trip, however, was nothing like that of the average American Jew. For the second summer, I lived in a small Druze village called Peqiin, which is nestled in the mountains of northern Israel.  In my community of 5,000 I lived with a family of five.  Every weekday started off the same: wake up, drink Nescafe, study Arabic for four hours with my teacher, who over my last visit became a great friend, and then spend the rest of the day with him and his family.  The first time I traveled to Peqiin I had no idea what to expect, but for two months between my junior and senior years of college my teacher, Salman, and his wife, Rodaina, became like family.  Before my first trip I was thinking about quitting Arabic–the classes had become hard, I was one of the few who hadn’t spent time abroad, and I often sat in class feeling lost and confused.  My time in Peqiin not only reinvigorated my passion for the language, but also gave me insight into a community that gets left out of many people’s experience of Israel.

The Druze are a small religious minority whose faith is shrouded in secrecy. They have an interesting place in Israeli society because of their history of persecution by Muslims and the alliance they made with the Jews before the 1948 war.  Since Arabic is their native language, they study in Arabic language public schools with Palestinian Muslim and Christian citizens of Israel. However, unlike their classmates, they serve in the Israeli Army.  Many have a right wing political disposition and have a strong distrust of the Muslim citizens due to their historical persecution.  Instead of reading about this in a textbook, I got to learn the importance of these aspects of Druze politics and culture over dinner at the home of a Druze member of the Israeli Knesset. He is part of the Israel Our Home party, one of the right wing parties in Israel.

In addition to learning about Israel, this trip also offered me a unique lens into the international relations of the Middle East.  If I wanted to watch the news while in Peqiin, I had a few options. Since I do not speak or understand Hebrew, the Arabic channels were Al-Jazeera, the Israeli Arabic News, Jordanian News, Egyptian News, Lebanese News. I could also watch Press TV in English sponsored by the Iranian government or Al-Jazeera English.  This was a great introduction into propaganda, different on each station, especially during the search for the three teens that we either “kidnapped,” “missing,” or not mentioned. I also heard a lot about the Israeli military operation in the West Bank, which was also portrayed in varying lights.  Being a Middle Eastern Studies major I took many classes that focused on the relations between the different states and groups in the region, yet these intricacies were never so clear to me until this experience.

At the end of the summer, I was sad to leave Peqiin and return to the United States.  I arrived four days before the fighting broke out in Gaza, and ten days before a rocket from Lebanon fell next to Peqiin.  Given my experience of a different side of Israel, I wish to expand my knowledge about the effect of religion on political ideology, especially amongst minority religious groups and factions. As I make the move to Washington, DC to start my graduate studies, I am empowered to learn more about this ever-changing region and hope that peace can soon be found.

 

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Can a U.S. Summit Change Perceptions of Africa?

Elliott School Graduate Admissions:

Check out what current Global Communication student, Lola Pak, has to say about the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit happening this week!

Originally posted on Take Five:

President Barack Obama (center) with (left to right) President Macky Sall (Senegal), President Joyce Banda (Malawi), President Ernest Bai Koroma (Sierra Leone), and Prime Minister José Maria Pereira Neves (Cape Verde) in the Cabinet Room of the White House on March 28, 2013. Credit: BusinessWeek.com/Getty Images

President Barack Obama (center) with (left to right) President Macky Sall (Senegal), President Joyce Banda (Malawi), President Ernest Bai Koroma (Sierra Leone), and Prime Minister José Maria Pereira Neves (Cape Verde) in the Cabinet Room of the White House on March 28, 2013. Credit: BusinessWeek.com/Getty Images

In advance of this week’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C., National Public Radio published an article that discussed the goals of the summit, the first such event organized by a U.S. president for 40 African leaders. One is to bring African heads-of-state in contact with American business leaders for discussions on investment and business opportunities; the other is, according to the article, “to change the narrative” about Africa, from one mired in violence and humanitarian crises to that of business opportunities.

Business and entrepreneurship are not often considered as public diplomacy strategies, but it makes sense why they should be. After all, business…

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Student Highlight: Stephen Dutton

(This post was originally written for Asia on E Street, The Sigur Center for Asian Studies blog.)

Living in Shanghai

I’m writing this from my first class cabin on the T110, Shanghai to Beijing overnight train, 15 hours of the low rumbling bliss typical of trains here. I’ve taken dozens of trains in China in the past; I’ve never taken first class before. A special treat as a result of poor, last minute planning. I’m here with my girlfriend, we’ve got a couple cups of noodles and some playing cards. The cabin is cozy: four beds, two bunks on either side of a small dining table under the window and a door for privacy. Our cabin mates are a young Chinese woman from Shanghai, a Fudan scholar as it turns out, on her way to Beijing to collect materials from the National Library in preparation for her visiting scholar trip to Oxford University next month, fluent in English, and her mother accompanying her. I’m going to heat up my bowl of extra spicy instant noodles soon, and mix some instant coffee into kaishui (开水), water from the samovar.

My name is Stephen Dutton. I am a graduate student in the Asian Studies program at the Elliott School. I have been in Shanghai since February, studying as an exchange student in the Chinese Politics and Diplomacy program at Fudan University. I’m staying in Shanghai for the summer however to enroll in the university’s intensive language program. I’ll be refocusing my efforts here from English language masters classes and an English language internship, to full time Chinese. I intend to study, live, breathe Chinese until I get back to DC in the fall (these blog posts are an exception).

My classes start soon, just after this mini vacation to Beijing, so I wanted to offer an overview of my time so far in this incredible city and to introduce the program a bit. Shanghai is unlike any other city I have seen thus far in China. I lived and studied in Beijing in 2007 as an undergraduate student. That city is dominated by politics, the government, CCTV, Tiananmen. Old Beijing and the hutong offer insight to local Mandarin culture. The English speaking expats there are mostly students and diplomats. And I was also studying and living in Chengdu, in China’s western Sichuan province, in 2012. That city resembles the older, slower pace of Chinese culture, ancient even, tea houses along the river banks, pandas, and mahjong. Foreigners are few and far between.

Shanghai is a completely different city entirely. It is an ultra modern, financially driven, economic powerhouse of a city, socially forward leaning, and there are English speaking foreigners everywhere (as well as loads of other languages, particularly French which dominates certain neighborhoods). A walk through parts of the French Concession makes you feel like you’ve almost left China completely, and the foreigner and local communities have blended so thoroughly that it’s truly unique for a city here on the mainland, something more similar to Hong Kong or Taipei perhaps. The city is a sort of east meets west microcosm, it’s livable and pleasant. The smog is mostly a non-issue, nothing at all as serious as it is in Beijing.

Since I’ve been here starting in February, I have had the pleasure of traveling around the city and around the neighboring cities and I think I have a reasonable impression of the city so far. One thing I have noticed though is that it would take a much longer time for me to really understand the subtlety of the local Shanghainese culture. The local dialect is a challenge to understand—actually I think it’s nearly an entirely different language. Locals switch between Mandarin and Shanghainese, depending on who they are talking to. And they are used to accommodating foreigners with at least Mandarin if not some English.

Fudan University is a bit outside the city center in the northern Yangpu district, fairly local, meaning there aren’t many foreigners apart from the foreign exchange students at Fudan and Tongji, another large university nearby. Apart from Fudan, Yangpu is well known in the city for the Hongkou soccer stadium, hosting one of the city’s Chinese Super League soccer teams, and Wujiaochang, a large shopping center with some interesting architectural points of interest. The recent Spike Jonze film,Her, was filmed in around Wujiaochang’s Wanda Plaza (as well as Shanghai’s Lujiazui financial zone in Pudong, and Taipei and LA). The university is ringed by streets of local shops and residential buildings and are bustling with activity: street food stalls, pedestrians intermingling with a chaotic blend of electric scooters and bicycles that ignore traffic rules, and buses and taxis that play chicken with pedestrians and that honk incessantly, delicious and cheap noodle shops, a few foreign student-accommodating cafes, and some cheap bars.

I’ve finally finished my long spring semester of Chinese politics classes and will begin my Chinese language program this week. I’ll be taking full time Mandarin language classes for the summer. Classes are 8-12am each day and cultural classes are offered in the afternoons. They’ll be teaching mahjong and how to cook Chinese dishes (if someone could teach me how to make proper yuxiang qiezi, (鱼香茄子) fish-flavored egg plant, I’d be very grateful, I’m truly obsessed), tai chi and calligraphy, etc. And I think we are taking a weekend trip to the beautiful neighboring city of Hangzhou.

I’m really excited to get started and to improve my Chinese. Knowing some Chinese really helps unlock some of the more subtle cultural points of interest that often go unnoticed to those that have to rely on English. A little Chinese goes a long way and the more I learn the more I want to continue.

I’ll be posting periodically through the program (including some video blog posts which will be new for me) and I will be letting you know about my progress as well as any trips I take. In the meantime, here are a few pictures of my time in Shanghai so far. Enjoy and see you next time…

下次见!

Student Highlight: Graham Vickowski

Today, we highlight incoming student Graham Vickowski.  Graham will join the Elliott School for the fall 2014 semester as a Political Psychology graduate certificate student.

Graham graduated from Northern Arizona University with a B.A. in International Affairs and a B.S. in Psychology in December 2013.  During the summer of 2013, Graham had attended the Elliott School’s U.S. Foreign Policy in a Global Era program.

After graduating, Graham held an internship at the U.S. Embassy in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.  He then traveled to Georgia (the country) before starting his Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) for Urdu in Lucknow, India after a quick trip to DC for CLS orientation.  Along the way, Graham took many pictures that he wanted to share!  Check them out below along with a map of his travels!

Travels of Graham

 

Student Highlight: Nanda Ruiz

Ruiz, Nanda- PhotoNanda Ruiz is a graduate of the University of New Mexico with a B.A in Political Science and a B.S in Sign Language Interpreting.  She is currently abroad in Peru as a Peace Corps volunteer (PCV) and is looking forward to start the M.A. in International Development Studies this fall!

She will be finishing up her Peace Corps Service in rural Peru July 15th. Nanda is saying good bye to her small Andean community as she heads to Lima to close her service and begin her next adventure back to the States. Over the past two years Nanda has worked as a youth development volunteer in a small community of 6,000. The States will offer a pretty big culture shock.

After ending her Peace Corps Service Nanda will spend some time saying good bye to other PCVs, camping on the beaches of southern Peru and eating copious amounts of ceviche and enjoying some good Pisco. Then a short trip to Guadalajara, Mexico to visit family before she finally re-enters the United States of America via San Francisco to catch the Beyonce/ JayZ concert. (Hey, what better way to get reintroduce to the States than Beyonce!) After a week in San Francisco Nanda will go home to New Mexico to spend some much needed time with family and friends before she makes her move to D.C. At some point during all this, Nanda plans to do some light reading to prepare for her first semester at the Elliott School, along with keeping up with her economics courses, its going to be a whirlwind! Nanda can’t wait to get settled in D.C and start this new adventure! And we cannot wait to welcome Nanda to the Elliott School!

Check out some of the incredible pictures Nanda has captured throughout her Peace Corps service.

Student Highlight: Eric Daugherty

This week we are highlighting incoming student, Eric Daugherty.  Eric will be starting the M.A. in International Development Studies this fall.  Eric graduated from Bowling Green State University (Ohio) with a degree in International Studies and a minor in International Business.

In Eric’s current position, he has had significant opportunity to travel throughout Africa managing loan facilities to microfinance institutions in Tanzania, Uganda and other nations.  Eric also spent over two years in Egypt working in development and microfinancing.

This summer, Eric took a break from one of his work trips and headed to Madagascar to visit a friend and submitted the pictures below to share.  The pictures were taken in Antananarivo and Nosy Be.  Check out the beautiful views!

We look forward to welcoming Eric to the Elliott School this fall!