Saturday, November 29, 2014

Thanksgiving in SAIS Europe: Meredith P.

Today, Meredith P. offers an inside look at Thanksgiving traditions at SAIS Europe.  Enjoy!

For Thanksgiving week I am planning to go home to Long Island and spend the holiday with my family. Since last year I was not only in Bologna but also had classes on Thanksgiving, I am really excited this year to have the entire week off to relax. Between spending the last academic year in Italy and interning over the summer in Belgium, I have not spent much time at home and cannot wait to catch up with my family and friends and eat some really good home cooked food.
Last year, SAIS Europe organized a Thanksgiving dinner in the auditorium on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, which was a lot of fun, but not the same as spending the holiday at home. For the event in Bologna, everyone brought one dish with him or her and the student government provided enough turkey for everyone.
I really enjoyed the dinner, with 200 students seated at long tables in the auditorium, eating traditional Thanksgiving food with a few international dishes thrown in. Before the dinner started, the president of our student government pardoned a turkey, which was really a student in a turkey costume, and once the turkey was saved he did a dance for us. The Thanksgiving dinner was one of my favorite student events from last year. This year my Thanksgiving will be much more tame, involving much more catching up on schoolwork and watching tv with my dad, but it’ll be a nice break.
–Meredith P., SAIS Admissions Student Blogger

Thursday, November 27, 2014

What’s a SAISgiving, Sana?

Today we have a post from our student blogger Sana A.  Enjoy!

For SAISers, Thanksgiving Break is the wonderful week of the fall semester where midterms are behind us and we can prepare for the finals week approaching fast. Students go around the world for informational interviews, exciting vacations or just home to waiting friends and family.
Since we’ve become a family of our own at SAIS, this year I hosted a group of friends for a SAISgiving! We decided to celebrate a week early, before we all went off to do spectacular things. Being graduate students, my roommate and I (a fellow SAISer in the Strategic Studies department) turned our living room into a large dining room. Neither of us is that enthusiastic about cooking; after a quick trip to the local Whole Foods, we walked out with a rotisserie chicken, a small turkey, Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes casserole and a pumpkin roll for dessert. Friends trickled in throughout the evening, and the carefully selected Thanksgiving playlist gave way to “Oh, you have to watch this video on YouTube!” and “This is a fantastic podcast!”   
All in all, it was a really great evening and one of the last times we would all be together for a holiday this year. Even though we are second years with a semester ahead of us, there is a strong sense that time is flying by and this makes us cherish our time at SAIS so much more.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving at SAIS

Today we have a blog post from student blogger, Matt B.  Enjoy!

Like many students at SAIS, I’m not unaccustomed to spending a Thanksgiving away from home. Like myself, a lot of students have had international experiences that led them to having a “friends-giving” instead of something more traditional. But this year, I’m back in the States; unfortunately, I am from Louisiana, and the distance is just too far to go home for such a short amount of time. While it’s nice that we get a whole week off, I couldn’t make it work out this year. Thankfully, I’m not alone in this regard either.  I have a few friends, especially from Georgetown (since they don’t get the full week off), who are going to get together to host a good friendsgiving. I have another friend from my hometown who is doing graduate work in Philadelphia and another doing the same in Boston, and they will come down and join us, too. So I will be celebrating with a different family of sorts. 
SAIS recognises that many of its students can’t get back home for the week, and the SGA organizes a “host-a-SAISer” event for Thanksgiving. This is where those who can sign up to host students (both Americans who can’t get back home and international students who want to participate in the fun tradition)—and since I’ll be participating in a big party, full of way too much food and drink, I’ve signed up to take a few SAISers along with me. For any prospective students who are worried about not having a way to get back home for Thanksgiving, or prospective international students who are curious about how they can experience these kinds of events, take note that the SGA does a great job at organizing hosting opportunities like these, and you won’t have to experience the holidays alone!
Well, those are my plans. Hope everyone has a great holiday. Happy Thanksgiving!
Please note that the SAIS Admissions Office will be closed on Thursday, November 27, and Friday, November 28, in observance of Thanksgiving.  Have a great holiday, everyone!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Application for the Rangel Fellowship Now Open!

Are you applying for IR grad school for fall 2015?  Are you interested in working for the U.S. Foreign Service?

Then you might want to consider applying for the Rangel Fellowship program.  In addition to financial support, the Rangel program also offers support to fellows in the form of internships, mentorships, and professional guidance.

For more information on the Rangel Fellowhip program and eligibility requirements, clickhere. The deadline to apply is January 14, 2015.

Thanks for reading!

–Erin Skelly Associate Director of Admissions

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Secretary John Kerry Speaking at SAIS

One of the best things about the SAIS student experience is the array of leaders and experts that come to speak to us. The academic calendar is lined with hundreds of such talks, and recently SAIS welcomed Secretary of State John Kerry to our campus. He was there to speak on U.S. – China relations. SAIS students reached campus as early as 7 am in anticipation of the Secretary’s 9:30 am remarks (and also, of course, factoring in the screening process and wanting great seats). Students across concentrations filled up the large auditorium and the overflow room, chatting about the headlines and issues both the United States and China must contend with in the world today.

Secretary Kerry walked in right on time, pausing to comment on the phenomena of seeing so many cell phone cameras wherever he goes – a marked change from his speeches when he ran for President in 2004, when the only camera belonged to the opposition side’s guy in the room. Over the course of his remarks, he touched on a wide variety of issues in the U.S. – China bilateral relationship: everything from the potential gains from a rebalance, Korean peninsula denuclearization, spurring Third World development, and how to combat climate change together – a particular interest of the Secretary’s.

Secretary Kerry also stated he would soon depart for Paris, then on to Beijing, travel away for further meetings on Iranian negotiations and then back to Beijing for more bilateral meetings. This event was another great example of how SAIS keeps students plugged into the conversations happening in real time.

Check out some pictures below from Secretary Kerry’s visit:

You can view more photos of Senator Kerry’s visit on the SAIS Facebook page. Read the SAIS Observer coverage of the secretary’s visit here, or read a transcript of Senator Kerry’s remarks, or watch a video, here.

Thanks for reading!
Sana A., SAIS Admissions Student Blogger

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Diplomacy Through Food: International Dinner 2014

The SAIS International Dinner is an annual tradition at SAIS, and is one of the most popular events of the year.  It’s organized by the SAIS Student Government Association (SGA), but it’s the collaboration between the SGA and numerous student organizations that make this event such a success.  Various clubs and other student volunteers prepare food and cultural performances from around the world to share with the SAIS community, and many students will dress in traditional garb from around the globe.

Check out the photos below!
The China Club finishes setting up their food.
SAISers serving traditional Vermont fare, including apple pie with Vermont cheddar.
The Philippines table had delicious food, especially the lumpia and chicken adobo (pictured below).
Students at the Middle East and North Africa Club (MENA) table.
Students at the Korea table in traditional garb.
The students at the Russia and Eurasia Club table were looking very festive.
The Africa Association had foods representing various countries of both Africa and the African diaspora.
The Chai club performed a medley of traditional, modern, and Bollywood dances.
A hilarious impression of the U.S. President captured the tone of the evening perfectly.
The event was standing-room only.
A group of students performed a short musical set.
The Taiwanese Association won the Best Taste Award for 2014.
The Korea Club won the Best Presentation Award for 2014.
For more pictures of the 2014 International Dinner, check out the SAIS Observer’s photo essay of the event: International Dinner a Tasty Success.
Thanks for reading!
–Erin Skelly, Associate Director of Admissions

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Halloween at SAIS: Matthew B. & Meredith P.

Two of our student bloggers want to tell you about Halloween at SAIS.  Enjoy!

This year the SAIS Student Government put on its annual Halloween party at a bar near the campus, Bistro Bistro.  Even though it was technically hosted not on Halloween (Thursday, the day before!) everyone still dressed up and came out ready for a good party. I’m told prizes were awarded to the best costumes, but none of my friends got any, so I’m going to call nepotism on that one.
A bunch of my friends and I got together before the event in Columbia Heights. This neighborhood, just north of the school, is a popular place for students to live and even go out.  There, we carved some pumpkins, made our costumes, and got ready to go out and have a good time. Our group decided to make thematic costumes–we went as pokemon characters. (I was actually a pokedex, but everyone else went as a trainer or a pokemon. Don’t hate.) It was a pretty fun night though in particular because we were introducing Halloween to a couple international friends of ours here at SAIS. One girl from the Netherlands, one girl from South Korea, and one from England had never experienced Halloween before.  We had to make sure we did everything that night, including carving pumpkins and handing candy out to the trick or treaters who came by the house!
It wasn’t the wildest Halloween I’ve ever seen–I am from New Orleans after all–but it was a pretty great one.  SAIS has some very creative students, the costumes ran the gamut from quirky to satirical, and everyone was definitely having a great time. All in all, I couldn’t imagine a better first Halloween in DC. Here’s some pictures so you can judge for yourself:
–Matthew B., SAIS Admissions Blogger
This past Thursday the student government association (SGA) here threw the annual SAIS Halloween Party. The event was held in Bistro Bistro, a French restaurant right off Dupont Circle, which had the tables pushed to the side and was turned into a dance party for the night. The venue was open exclusively to SAIS students and guests and was open to students in every program. The SGA arranged for drink specials for all students, including $4 beers and $5 vodka and rum drinks, an almost unheard of deal in DC. Most students dressed up in costume for the event. One of the most popular choices for the women was Rosie the Riveter. A few of my favorites included a crew of minions from Despicable Me and a group of fast-food restaurant mascots. Overall, everyone seemed to have an amazing time, getting to get dressed up, relax with a drink and take a night off from studying. It was also a chance for students to show off their various talents outside of academia, with a second-year student working as the DJ for the night. The party started at 9pm and went well into the night, with a large portion of the student body in attendance.
–Meredith P., SAIS Admissions Student Blogger

Africa: Crisis or Rise?

Last night, we held our last Taster Lecture of the fall with SAIS professor and Director of the African Studies program, Peter Lewis, who gave a talk titled “Africa: Crisis or Rise?”

Prospective students had the chance to experience what it’s like to learn from and engage with a SAIS faculty member.
If you couldn’t make it, but still want to get a feel for the SAIS educational experience, you can still sign up for a class visit.  But don’t wait too long–next week (Nov 17-21) is the last week for class visits until next semester, and the last day to sign up for a class visit is Tuesday, November 18.  Review available courses and sign up here. (Be sure to filter by “Events.”)
Thanks for reading!
–Erin Skelly, Associate Director of Admissions

Saturday, November 8, 2014

International Dinner: Sirtaj K.

Tonight is the SAIS International Dinner, an annual tradition and one of the biggest events of the year.  Sirtaj K. tells us how she and her friends prepared for tonight.  Enjoy!

Hello SAISers and prospective SAISers!
As many of you may already know, the International Dinner is tonight. The International Dinner, for those in unfamiliar territory, is an event that SAIS DC holds every Fall semester where students volunteer to prepare food from their parts of the world for their fellow students and staff. But that’s not the only exciting bit – there’s an open stage and open mic for anyone who wants to display their talent. And I just can’t help myself wherever there is an open stage. The Chai Club, (the South Asia club at SAIS) of which I am a member, has decided to perform a couple of Indian dances for the event.
Preparing for the dances has been no easy task. The midterms at SAIS just ended so the entire SIAS populace is absolutely famished. Even without the midterms, our schedules are brimming full all the time with classes, internships, part time jobs, guest lectures, career orientations, parties, and everything else one can imagine. But we did manage to pull something together and are in the final rounds of the practice for the day after tomorrow.
So how did we do this, you ask? Planning! Thankfully, we have Seethal Kumar with us, a fellow student and a professional belly dance instructor. She took the responsibility of coordinating the Chai Club dance. Seethal choreographed a Bollywood-hip-hop fusion piece. Sana Ali, my fellow blogger (maybe we can provide a link to Sana’s blog) choreographed a classic Bollywood dance and I took the responsibility of preparing a Bhangra number, a traditional dance form that belongs to Punjab, India/Pakistan. (Fun fact for IR students – the neighboring border states in India and Pakistan are both called Punjab, because the larger state of Punjab was partitioned by the British when they granted freedom to India and Pakistan. Both states share the same language and culture.)
One of the most challenging parts was to get everyone who wanted to participate to learn the dances. We managed to find a time that was acceptable to everyone once a week and we even made videos of the dances for those who couldn’t make it to the rehearsals. I made many new friends through this process. There is no better way to solidify a friendship than to have a productive and fun experience together, which is exactly what the rehearsals have been like. They’ve also been uplifting – something to look forward to in the week. And I’m sure the other clubs and performers are enjoying preparing for this just as much as we are!
Stay tuned for updates on what went down at the International Dinner!
–Sirtaj K., SAIS Admissions Student Blogger

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Midterms: Matthew B.

Despite midterms, our student bloggers still managed to find time to write for us this week.  Today we have a student blog post by Matthew B.  Enjoy!

Tell us about midterms!
As a first year student, midterms have been a little intimidating. For first years, it will be their first time taking a test since completing their undergraduate degree; for many, midterms are their first test in years! For me, I only spent a little over one year between school, so it wasn’t as foreign as it could have been.
Fortunately at SAIS, no matter how rusty you are with test taking, the student body is very supportive of one another, and study groups abound.  Personally, I only had one exam this week for my economics course.  The rest of my midterms were take home papers, which I actually like a little more. As for economics, even though I had taken a few courses in undergrad, calculus wasn’t nearly as important then as it is for this level of class, and I needed all the help I could get; thankfully, help was not in short supply. I was especially struck by the distance TAs were willing to go (lots of extra sessions in particular) to make sure you understand the material; I think this really speaks to how dedicated everyone is to making sure all students master their subjects here at SAIS. Or, another way of looking at it, for any first year student the most reassuring thing about midterm season is that you feel like you’re all in it together.  There isn’t a “cut throat, dog eat dog” kind of attitude. Its a very collaborate study process, and after the tests, you’ve got plenty of friends wanting to know how you felt about it–and take you out to celebrate the end of midterms.
–Matthew B., SAIS Admissions Student Blogger
After three posts about midterms, you might think that SAIS is all work and no play!  Don’t worry… next time, our bloggers will be talking about student life and the more “play"ful side of the SAIS experience.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Midterms: Meredith P.

Despite midterms, our student bloggers still managed to find time to write for us this week.  Today we have a student blog post by Meredith P.  Enjoy!

Tell us about midterms!
These past two weeks have been very stressful at SAIS because everyone has had midterms and papers due. Coming to school has not been as much fun as it normally is because everyone seems a bit down (the fact that the weather has been very rainy I am sure is not helping) but it is nice to have a sense of camaraderie. Seeing everyone going through the same hectic time as you and having buddies to stay late at the library with has made the time a bit easier. In both Bologna and DC, whenever midterms come around I have always felt very thankful to be surrounded by people I could go to for help understanding an economics problem set or just someone to vent to. The only difference that I have noticed between DC and Bologna is that midterms seem much more spread out in DC. In Bologna, it seemed as if everyone’s midterms where on the same exact day (probably because half the class is in the same economics class) so leading up to that one day the library would be extra packed and everyone a bit more crazy but then that night everyone would be free and could celebrate together. In contrast, in DC, while I have been done with midterms for a week, I have many friends who will still be studying this weekend. This has made it much easier to find a seat in the library, but it also makes it seem as if the midterms are never-ending.
–Meredith P., SAIS Admissions Student Blogger