Friday, February 27, 2015

What I Did Over January Break: Matt B.

Classes have been back in session for a few weeks, so we asked our student bloggers what they did over their winter break.  Enjoy!

Matt, what did you do over your winter break?
This winter break I got to take part in a Trek.  At SAIS, there are a variety of treks available to students. Career Services, for example, will organize treks to take students for interviews at companies in cities from Zurich to Shanghai. Academic departments at the university also host a variety of treks. Many of my friends this winter break went on treks to places such as Colombia and Myanmar.  I went through a student club for my trek this January, and went to Israel.
In Israel, we spent eight days traveling all over the area, starting and ending in Tel Aviv. On the trek were SAISers from different concentrations, but three in particular stood out in terms of the event planning—Energy Resource and Environment, Strategic Studies, and Conflict Management. Our trek was filled with constant meetings and dialogues, which greatly encouraged everyone to explore different points of view through discussions over the course of the trek. 
The topics of the presenters varied throughout the trek. We met with Shimon Peres to hear about his efforts with the Peres Center for Peace.  We also went to the West Bank to met with Dr. Hanan Ashrawi of the PLO. But not all the speakers were political. Even in the West Bank, we met with a Palestinian Venture Capitalist and his prized start up, يامسافر. For the ERE side of events, we visited the Mekorot group to learn more about their efforts to help switch Israel to 75% desalinated water systems by the end of the year.
The trip was eye opening and challenging for many reasons, both obvious and not. I definitely could not have imagined a better way to spend part of my winter break for a student of Conflict Management.
Yael Mizrahi wrote in the SAIS Observer about the trip far better than I ever could. If you’re still curious about the trek and its components, go check it out!
–Matt B., SAIS Admissions Student Blogger
Photos courtesy of Nancy Lu Wang.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Student Blogger: Liz H

We’re pleased to introduce Liz H., a new student blogger.  Enjoy!

Liz, we’re so glad to have you blogging for the Admissions Office.  Can you tell our readers a little about yourself? 
My name is Liz and I’m a second year student here at SAIS, studying international development. I spent my first year at the SAIS Europe campus in Bologna and now I am starting off my final semester here in Washington. 
I came to SAIS after living and working in China for three years. I have always been passionate about youth empowerment and education – in Beijing I worked for a start-up nonprofit organization which provides experiential education and leadership programs for youth. Ever since I was in high school I loved working with and mentoring young people. I grew up in North Carolina but spent my summers working as a camp counselor and supervisor at an overnight camp in North Georgia. I love spending time outside and I enjoy environments where you can learn and grow from those around you in a comfortable space.
I went to China for the first time as a high school student, and again to study abroad during my junior year of college. After college I knew I wanted to go back and explore the region more. I was fortunate to be awarded a Princeton-in-Asia fellowship to work in Beijing.  It was the best first job I could have asked for; working for a start-up gave me the opportunity to support the organization from all different angles and learn about how to effectively market programs, design curriculum and facilitate activities. My favorite project was directing a summer program for underserved American high school students who received scholarships through a State Department grant to study in China. 
Both working for an international nonprofit and seeing China grow and change around me made me interested in going back to school to study international development. While I am passionate about cultural exchange and youth development, I was interested in exploring other regions and considering career opportunities that focus on other critical issues in developing countries, such as inequality and corruption.
SAIS has opened my mind to so many ideas and opportunities. I feel confident that when I graduate, I will have the skills and confidence to take the next step in my career. 
–Liz H., SAIS Admissions Student Blogger

Monday, February 16, 2015

The SAISer Experience

Last week, over 100 Fall 2015 applicants joined SAIS Admissions for a special taster lecture with SAIS Dean Vali Nasr.

Dean Nasr gave a lecture titled “U.S. Foreign Policy at a Turning Point,” and afterwards conducted a question-and-answer session with attendees, in which he answered questions about the power dynamics in modern Iraq, the appeal of groups like ISIS for young recruits, and the U.S. relationship with India.

More pictures from the lecture are available on the SAIS Admissions Facebook page.
Taster lectures are a great way to get a feel for what it’s like to be a SAIS student. If you couldn’t attend our taster lecture with Dean Nasr, but you want to get a feel for the SAIS student experience, we recommend that you sign of for an on-campus class visit. Class visits are available starting the week of February 23, and class visit registration is now open. To view available classes and to sign up (using your MySAIS login), click here.

Thanks for reading!

–Erin Skelly, Associate Director of Admissions

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Studying in SAIS Europe: Meredith P.

This week, we’ve asked our student bloggers to talk about some of the benefits of studying at their respective campuses.  Today, Meredith P. talks about SAIS Europe.

What are the benefits to living/studying in Bologna, Italy?  What were some of the highlights of your year at SAIS Europe?
There were so many benefits about spending your first year at SAIS at the Bologna campus that I find it hard to pick just one. To be part of the close-knit community that forms at the SAIS Bologna Center and Bologna’s central location, making travel around Italy unbelievably convenient, are just two of the many highlights of the Bologna campus. I found the opportunity to live in Italy and experience a different lifestyle for nine months to be the most invaluable experience. Being in DC this year has really made me miss the more carefree, lower stress environment in Italy. Bologna is unique city, known in Italian as “the educated, the red, the fat,” a description that accurately summarizes the best aspects of the city: the academic culture, the beautiful architecture, and the delicious food. Whenever it rains in DC I get extremely nostalgic for Bologna and its porticoes. Walking through the historic red brick city every day seemed almost unreal. For me though, the food alone would have made the year in Bologna worthwhile. Some of my favorite memories include seemingly endless dinners with friends at local osterias or enjoying an aperitivo after a long day. While in Italy, I was lucky enough to get a job as an English teacher for an Italian family. Once a week I would go to the family’s house, eat homemade Italian food, and discuss Italian politics and culture in English. This experience really brought together all of my favorite things about living in Bologna.
–Meredith P., SAIS Admissions Student Blogger

Monday, February 9, 2015

Studying in Washington: Sana A.

This week, we’ve asked our student bloggers to talk about some of the benefits of studying at their respective campuses.  Today, Sana A. talks about Washington, DC.

What are the benefits to living/studying in Washington, DC?  What have been some of the highlights so far?
One of the great things about Johns Hopkins SAIS is its ability to offer campus options to its incoming students. Some opt for a year in Bologna, others select Washington, DC while others do a stint in Nanjing. 
I decided to do both years in Washington, DC. Prior to starting my graduate program at SAIS, I worked for three years at the Embassy of Pakistan in DC and had gotten to know the city. I definitely spent time thinking about Bologna – the campus there offered a chance to live in Europe, something I had never done. 
After much reflection, I chose DC for a variety of reasons. Huge policy decisions that would affect South and Central Asia were being discussed and debated. Military drawdowns, new theatres of war – the situation was so fluid and the dynamics were constantly changing. I knew the upcoming years for my region of focus would depend on the conversations and decisions happening in DC, and I wanted to be totally plugged into the conversation. 
This is *the* political capital of capitals, and one can find IR contacts and conversations at every corner. I love that it has been such a complementary backdrop to my SAIS degree. I have informational meetings at the World Bank or the State Department. I attend think tank events to hear analysis on a range of topics (the Brookings Insitute and the Carnegie Endowment are right across the street!). World leaders, experts, journalists – so many talented and informed individuals regularly stop by SAIS to offer their insights and remarks. I feel great about my decision to do both years here, and recommend it highly.
–Sana A., SAIS Admissions Student Blogger