Monday, November 30, 2015

SAIS Traditions: SAIS International Dinner 2015

The International Dinner is one of the favorite traditions at the SAIS DC campus—it’s popular with students, alums, staff, and faculty alike. What seems like the entire student body converges in the Nitze building. Different cultural clubs prepare various foods representing their culture to share with the SAIS community, students dress up in traditional cultural garb, and there’s even an international talent show. Check out some pictures from this year’s International Dinner below.

View more photos of SAISers at the International Dinner here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

What SAIS Event Did You Attend This Week, Matt?

Last Thursday, I had the opportunity to attend an off the record discussion with Ambassador Sung Kim on the strategic importance of US-Japan-South Korea relations, which was hosted by SAIS’s own Reischauer Center. Ambassador Kim is currently Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Korea and Japan as well as the Special Representative for North Korea Policy and served as the United States Ambassador to South Korea from 2011 to 2014.

Dr. Kent Calder, Director of the Reischauer Center, moderated an insightful and worthwhile discussion with the Ambassador consisting of Ambassador Kim’s personal remarks as well as a lengthy Q&A period. Having the event be off the record allowed for a more casual discussion and hosting the discussion in one of SAIS’s smaller rooms allowed for a more intimate and personal setting, something that is not always easy to come by in D.C. Ambassador Kim began by providing an overview of US-Japan-South Korea relations, continually remarking on the importance of strengthening these ties for the benefit of every country involved as well as the region as a whole.

Most fascinating was the Q&A period which lasted for the remainder of the discussion (roughly 40 minutes). A real strength of many discussions at SAIS is the audience itself. Comprised of faculty, visiting scholars, and students from a mix of departments, including International Development, Korea Studies and Strategic Studies, the audience’s questions helped to develop and enrich the discussion and demonstrate the wide range of issues that are affected by the health of US-Japan-South Korea relations.  Events such as these are part and parcel with the SAIS experience. One of the great advantages of SAIS is that we are located in Washington D.C. While having important policy makers visiting prestigious schools is nothing new, it is greatly enhanced by SAIS’s strategic location.

Before I attended the discussion with Ambassador Kim, I was sitting in my Strategy and Policy course with Dr. Cohen. In a matter of minutes I went from a classroom environment to an off the record discussion with the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Korea and Japan. I can hardly think of a better illustration of SAIS’s effective pairing of academic instruction and real-world policy exposure.

Thanks for reading!
Matt, Student Blogger

Monday, November 23, 2015

What SAIS Event Did You Attend This Week, Jahanara?

One of the great things about being at SAIS is the events. Not a day goes by when we don't have 3-4 events happening around campus, ranging from small intimate gatherings to large auditorium-filled lecture series. Last week I was lucky enough to attend an event, cosponsored by Indego Africa and SAIS Global Women Lead, which showcased a short screening of an upcoming film, Mama Rwanda, followed by a panel discussion. The event focused on women's entrepreneurship as a solution to global poverty and, specifically in the case of Rwanda, discussed the role of women in rebuilding a community torn apart by genocide.

The event was kicked off by a representative from the Rwandan embassy, who emphasized the important role Rwandan women have played in rebuilding the economy and social fabric of the country. Women are incredibly involved in public life and make up 64% of the legislature and approximately 40% of the cabinet. He commended the resilience of Rwandan women and hoped that Rwanda’s experiences could provide important lessons for other countries emerging from conflict. Later, the director, Laura Waters Hinson, discussed how women are closing the economic gender gap. She emphasized that by becoming entrepreneurs, women are creating a new approach to sustainable poverty alleviation. The film itself follows the stories of two women, Christine and Drocella, and the challenges they face in their endeavors to raise themselves and their families. Christine, a single mother, owns a banana wine making company, while Drocella is working towards starting an agricultural cooperative with both survivors and perpetrators of the genocide.

The panel included:

  • Laura Waters Hinson, filmmaker, Mama Rwanda 
  • Semhar Araia, Founder and Executive Director of the Diaspora African Women's Network (DAWN) 
  • Wade Channell, Senior Economic Growth Advisor for Gender, Office of Gender Empowerment and Women's Equality, USAID 
  • Natalie Elwell, Senior Gender Advisor, World Resources Institute 
  • Moderated by Florence Navarro, CEO, Empowered Women International 

The conversation focused predominantly on the importance of aggregating the voices of women and, in this case, the voices of African women, in telling their own stories. It also touched upon how women can be agents of change, as opposed to just the subjects of change. The question and answer session emphasized the need to tell these stories from an African and Rwandan perspective, and not just a Western one, and it helped provide further insight into the topic.

Representative from Embassy of Rwanda opens the event
Filmmaker Laura Waters Hinson discusses her upcoming project Mama Rwanda 
L-R: Wade Channell, USAID; Natalie Elwell, World Resources institute; Semhar Araia, DAWN; Laura Waters Hinson, filmmaker, Mama Rwanda, Florence Navarro, Empowered Women International

Thanks for reading!

- Jahanara

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Johns Hopkins SAIS, Georgetown MSFS, Tufts Fletcher School, and Columbia SIPA lead Admissions Presentation in Tokyo

On Thursday, November 19, the American Center Japan hosted an evening information session for prospective students in Tokyo, Japan. The presentation was led by admissions staff members and alumni from Johns Hopkins SAIS, Georgetown MSFS, Tufts Fletcher School and Columbia SIPA. Approximately 80 prospective students were on hand to hear alumni talk about the impact their academic and social experience had on their lives and professional career. Sign up for an upcoming group information session here.

 A special thank you to SAIS alumni Shoichiro Odagaki '69, Kenji Matsuno '14 and Akito Nishiuchi '12 for participating in the event with Sidney Jackson, Director of Global Enrollment and Recruitment. 

Thank you to all the schools, alumni, and prospective students who attended!

Thanks for reading,
Jessica, Admissions Coordinator

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Student Spotlight: Sneha Thayil

This week's student spotlight features Sneha Thayil, a second-year SAIS MA student who spent her first semester in Bologna. Thayil is a MA student interviewer and member of the South Asian Student Association. Enjoy!

You are concentrating in Conflict Management. What drew you to this particular area of study?

In undergrad I majored in political science, focusing on violence, terrorism, and political evil. My internships involved working with youth from post conflict zones towards youth-involved community development. Studying conflict management was the logical progression of my academic and professional interests.
You spent your first year at the SAIS Europe campus in Bologna, Italy. What were some of the highlights of your year at SAIS Europe?
There were so many! It was such an amazing year. A few I immediately think of are going horseback riding up Mt Vesuvius, attending the Nobel Peace Prize conference in Rome, and celebrating Holi at Giardini Margherita. My favourite memories are more mundane, of me learning how to make Italian dishes from my roommates, weaving through the streets of Bologna at night on our bicycles trying to catch the green wave of traffic lights, endless hitchhiking adventures with blablacar, and realizing how quickly one could pick up a new language.
Can you tell us a little about your summer internship with Meta-Culture? How did you apply what you've learned at SAIS thus far to your work with Meta-Culture?
I discovered the field of development consulting, so I was looking for a chance to learn a little more about consulting as a profession after my first year at SAIS. Meta-Culture is a conflict mediation consulting company based in Bangalore, and I was fortunate to spend the summer interning with them. I was able to gain experience in business development, training, and the research required for consulting. I was able to hone my research and analysis skills from writing policy memos, while some techniques I learnt from the excel skills courses also came in handy.
What are some of the extracurriculars you are pursuing at SAIS, and how are those complementing your educational experience?
An activity I’ve been most consistently involved with has been the South Asian Students Association, which I participated in both years. I’ve been able to sporadically attend events with the Cities and Development group, as well as the Dance Association. These groups have been an important part of satisfying my need for a diverse and varied social and academic life, as I’m able to keep up with interests that are not directly related to my field of study.
You're a student interviewer, so you meet with a lot of prospective students. What is some advice you would give to someone considering applying to a program like SAIS?
Above all I would suggest having a defined plan for what exactly you intend to gain from SAIS. Although plans certainly changed, as mine did as soon as I discovered the field of development consulting, I firmly believe that in order to maximize your potential at SAIS, you must have a clear idea of what you are working towards afterwards. When deciding to apply to SAIS, I would recommend analyzing what skills or gaps in knowledge the program would fill for you, and purposefully working to fill those gaps.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Erik Jones Discusses "Democracy without Solidarity"

Prospective students joined us last night for a Taster Lecture presented by Erik Jones, Director of European and Eurasian Studies. Jones discussed "Democracy without Solidarity," various models of democracy, and how lack of solidarity within can cause such democracies to falter, citing real world contemporary examples such as Belgium, Italy, and the United Kingdom.

To attend one of our upcoming events, please click here.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Next Week at SAIS: November 16-22

"Twenty Years after Dayton: Prospects for Progress in Reforms in Bosnia and Herzegovina"
9:30 a.m. – Kenney-Herter Auditorium - The Nitze Building
The Center for Transatlantic Relations is organizing events throughout this calendar year to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the Dayton Peace Accords and while reflecting back on past 20th years. This conference will look to the future for Bosnia and Herzegovina, to help the country's social-economic reforms move forward and faster towards the Euro-atlantic integrations. Media and members of the public should RSVP here.

"Transatlantic Research Seminar Series: "Dis-Embedded Markets and Embedded Politics: Dealing with External Policy Constraints" with Professor Matthias Matthijs"
11:30 a.m. – Room 806 - The Rome Building
This advanced research seminar on 'democracy and its discontents' in industrial states is being offered as a joint course between the SAIS Washington and SAIS Europe campuses, enabled by video conferencing technology. This year-long seminar will meet every other week during the Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 semesters and is based on a series of lectures provided by outside experts from across Europe and the United States. This fifth lecture on November 17th will feature Professor Matthias Matthijs (SAIS) on "Dis-Embedded Markets and Embedded Politics: Dealing with External Policy Constraints." The lectures are open to participation by the SAIS community and the public (seats are limited).  Seats are limited, so RSVP here.

"A Conversation with William J. Burns"
1:30 p.m. – Kenney-Herter Auditorium - The Nitze Building
Dean Vali Nasr and the Foreign Policy Institute invite you to join us for a conversation with with William J. Burns, President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State. The conversation will be moderated by Ambassador Shirin Tahir-Kheli, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Institute. This event is off-the-record and open to the public. RSVP here


“Turkey with the Brakes Off: What Does Erdogan's Victory Mean?”
5:00 p.m. – Kenney-Herter Auditorium - The Nitze Building
As the world prepares for the climate summit in Paris, many countries have made pledges to reduce carbon emissions. Will these be sufficient to limit global temperature rise to 2 deg. C? Have developed countries done enough to meet commitments for climate financing? Can countries reach a legally binding agreement? How will we judge success at the Paris meeting? For more information and to RSVP, please click here.

“Bridging the Gap: the Environment and Economic Development in Georgia?”
Rome Auditorium/Reception - The Rome Building
Can economic development and growth be achieved under a poorly managed environment with a significant negative impact on the health of the population?  Our speakers will discuss the World Bank's country environmental assessment report: Institutional, Economic, and Poverty Aspects of Georgia’s Road to Environmental Sustainability.  The study's objective was to analyze current status of the environment in Georgia and to demonstrate how environmental sustainability, economic growth, and prosperity can be mutually supportive goals.  The study offers policies to address these problems. Click here.


You Are Not Your Labels
12:30 p.m. - Room 500 - The Bernstein-Offit Building
Clemantine Wamariya, who will speak at this event, is a social entrepreneur and a storyteller. She recently received her BA from Yale University in Comparative Literature. Clemantine was six years old when the Rwandan genocide began in 1994. She and her sister Claire became separated from their family and lived in refugee camps in seven different countries before immigrating to the United States in 2000. Since her early teens, she has traveled throughout the country sharing her message of personal resilience and advocating for action to advance human rights. She has been a special guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show, TEDx and Chicago Ideas Week. In 2011, President Obama appointed her to serve on the board of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Recently, Amy Poehler's Smart Girls organization described Clemantine as “a compelling storyteller and fierce advocate for girls worldwide.” Register here.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Guess who was in Taipei this week...

...SAIS Admissions. Here are some pictures from the Group of Four school information session at National Taiwan University on the evening of Thursday, November 12. Taipei based alumni joined admissions staff in talking about the benefits of an international affairs degree.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Application Process: The Résumé

The one thing we don’t get many questions on, regarding the application process, is the résumé/CV. I get the impression - and you can correct me if I’m wrong - is that most applicants think, “I’ve already got a copy of that, easy enough to just upload it without making any changes. Right?”


Here’s the skinny: your résumé should be tailored to your application in the same way as your essays and recommendation letters.

How long should my résumé/CV be? 
Many recent college graduates are told their résumé/CV should be no more than a page long, which is true if you’re applying for a job and you don’t have a lot of work experience under your belt. But for a graduate school application, you can get away with a longer résumé - assuming you have enough experience to warrant it. If you’ve only been out of school a year or two, I would still expect a single-pager.

What should I emphasize on my résumé/CV?
We are looking for two things when reviewing an applicant’s résumé/CV: professional readiness and leadership potential. Keeping that in mind, there are a few things that you’ll want to highlight. You’ll want to demonstrate progressive responsibility in terms of your work, so we can see how you’ve grown professionally. You should also show how your work experience has been relevant to IR and the field you want to study at SAIS. Since we’re looking for leadership potential, you’ll want to list not only leadership experience in extracurricular or volunteer activities; you should also include leadership experience from work.

Any other tips? I have just a few here:
  1. Talk to your school’s career services office about how to format your résumé/CV; alternately, there are lots of resources online and books that can provide guidance. A well-formatted résumé/CV is crucial to a successful career. (Here’s a hint: do NOT use Microsoft Office résumé formats. They’re not professional, and turn what should be a one-page résumé into six pages.)
  2. Make sure you give us more information/detail your job responsibilities, not just the job title. Many job titles are organization-specific, and don’t really tell me (or a potential employer) what you did in your job.
  3. Know when to balance relevancy with gaps in your résumé/CV. You don’t want to list things that aren’t relevant (like the fact that you’re president of your knitting club), but you shouldn’t leave off that year you spent bartending if it creates a big gap in your resume. But you don’t need to do a big job description for that year.
Should you list volunteer work? Absolutely - if it’s relevant, and especially if you took a leadership role.

Have questions about the résumé/CV? Leave them in the comments, and I’ll be happy to answer them.

Thanks for reading,
Erin Skelly, Associate Director of Admissions

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Next Week at SAIS: November 9-13, 2015

SAIS hosts events each week, many of which are open to the public.  Even more events are exclusive to SAIS students, faculty, and staff.  The events and speakers on campus are an important part of the SAIS student experience, adding another dimension to a SAIS education. We hope to see you soon.

"Kurdistan Under Pressure"
10:00 a.m. – Room 500, The Bernstein-Offit Building
Kurdistan Under Pressure Monday, November 9th 2015 10 am - 12 pm Conference Room 500 Keynote address Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman Kurdistan Regional Government Representative in the United States Panelists Daniel Serwer Senior Fellow, CTR-SAIS Director, SAIS Conflict Management Program Nusseibeh Younis Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council Yael Mizrahi SAIS Middle East and Conflict Management Student Moderator Sasha Toperich Senior Fellow and Director of the Mediterranean Basin Initiative at SAIS. Media and members of the public should RSVP here.

"JET Talks: Baseball and the US-Japan Relationship"
Auditorium, Rome Building 
George Rose will explore the evolution of the baseball relationship between Japan and the United States. He will discuss the emergence of Japanese talent in Major League Baseball starting with the debuts of Japanese pitching talent that eventually led to the likes of Ichiro and Hideki Matsui. He will also look at how American players make the transition to the Japanese game and how they are viewed on that side of the Pacific. Seats are limited, so RSVP here.


“Turkey with the Brakes Off: What Does Erdogan's Victory Mean?”
5:00 p.m. – Rome Auditorium
Turkey's ruling AKP restored its majority in parliament on Nov 1. But the election was held after President Erdogan refused to accept the June 7 election's results, sabotaged efforts to form a coalition government, relaunched war in the country’s southeast – and after a massive suicide bombing in Ankara. Will this election stabilize Turkey? What does this election mean for Turkey's regional posture, and what kind of partner will it be for the U.S.? For more information and to RSVP, please click here.


Evolution or Revolution?: Restructuring Finance for a New Global Economy with Bertrand Badré”
4:30 p.m.—Kenney-Herter Auditorium - The Nitze Building
Dean Vali Nasr and the Foreign Policy Institute invite you to join a conversation with Bertrand Badré, Managing Director and World Bank Group CFO. The conversation will be moderated by Dr. John Lipsky, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Institute.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 6, 2015

DaQuan’s Tips for Surviving Midterms

Hello everyone, I hope you all are doing well! My post this week is about midterms, as the season is among us SAISers. This is my third “rodeo”, or semester as a SAIS student, so I have the benefit of knowing what to expect out of the treacherous time of the year. Actually to be clear, I have no idea what to expect from my courses and professors, however, I have somewhat of an idea of how much effort will be required in order to perform well during this fall’s exam week. Knowing the difference can make all the difference.

As a student who spent my first year at our DC campus, I am aware that the city plays a huge role in the SAIS graduate experience. This fact can be beneficial or detrimental depending on several factors including but not limited to: a given students’ style of working, ability to balance personal and work-related tasks, time management skills, professional background, and overall character and personality. Based on the amount of coursework SAISers tend to bear combined with the high volume of international affairs related conferences, forums, and events taking place on campus and throughout the greater District of Columbia region, midterm week at SAIS can quickly become overwhelming. Despite the rigor of the semester and the allure of superfluous events, below are my keys to staying above water during midterm exam week:

Create a study plan – “Chance/Opportunity favors the prepared mind”…
Never underestimate the value of repetition – Self-explanatory…
Notecards can be synonymous with “simplification” – Great for deconstructing and learning theories, equations, authors, definitions, etc.
Use your resources – Professors, classmates, course materials, and online tools are invaluable resources for preparing yourself
Rest, Relax, and Refuel! – You will need all of your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual strength, so make sure you eat, sleep, and meditate and/or pray throughout the week.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Jahanara’s Tips for Surviving Your Midterms

One of the most daunting moments of your first semester in graduate school is taking your first midterm. You worry about the level of your preparation, the format, the difference between undergraduate level papers and graduate level papers, and everything in between.

But what I have realized during the past few weeks is, once I stop psyching myself out, I just have to focus and approach these exams and papers like I would any other assignment.
Some of the things I have found most helpful this midterm season (a lot of which I first came across in undergrad) are:
  • Time management: It’s important to balance studying for exams and writing papers with your regular reading and problem sets. I don't know about you but I'm happy to leave the world of all-nighters behind, and I think time management is the best way to do that.
  • Staying on top of your reading throughout the semester: No one wants to be the person opening a textbook or required reading the night before a paper is due, so be sure to stay up to date on your regular work!
  • Utilizing the services that SAIS has to offer: SAIS has numerous resources available to help students excel. The writing center, library research guides, TAs, and professors are all here to help you do your best. Once you recognize that, everything seems less daunting! 
  • My peers: Depending on your studying style, forming study groups to go over important material can really help with preparation.
  • Taking a break: Read a book, watch an episode of your favorite TV show (if you have the self-control to stop at one!), or just listen to some music and dance around your room (I personally find this to be most effective.) It’s important to remember that even though you're a student and here to do your best, in order to do that you need to take care of yourself. Practice some self-care!
  • Using these steps, I survived my first round of midterms at SAIS. Here's hoping that my grades match my optimism!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Next Week at SAIS: November 2-6, 2015

SAIS hosts events each week, many of which are open to the public.  Even more events are exclusive to SAIS students, faculty, and staff.  The events and speakers on campus are an important part of the SAIS student experience, adding another dimension to a SAIS education. We hope to see you soon.

"SAIS IDEV Perspectives Magazine Launch"
12:30 p.m. – Room 812, Rome Building
SAIS Perspectives is the flagship magazine of the International Development Program at Johns Hopkins SAIS. We cordially invite you to our 2015-16 launch, where we will exhibit the best photographs submitted to our photo contest on this year's magazine theme, migration and displacement. Media and members of the public should RSVP here.

"Transatlantic Research Seminar Series: "Transnational Interest Groups and National Democracies" with Professor Abraham Newman of Georgetown University"
11:30 a.m. – Room 806, RomeBuilding 
This advanced research seminar on 'democracy and its discontents' in industrial states is being offered as a joint course between the SAIS Washington and SAIS Europe campuses, enabled by video conferencing technology. This year-long seminar will meet every other week during the Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 semesters and is based on a series of lectures provided by outside experts from across Europe and the United States. This fourth lecture on November 3, 2015 will feature Professor Abraham Newman of Georgetown on "Transnational Interest Groups and National Democracies." The lectures are open to participation by the SAIS community and the public. Seats are limited, so RSVP here.

“Minorities in the Syrian War and Implications for US Policy”
4:30 p.m. – Room 736, The Bernstein-Offit Building
This is part of the Research Seminar Series, 2015-2016, being sponsored by International Political Economy at SAIS. Andrew Cheon, the speaker for this seminar, is an Assistant Professor of International Political Economy at SAIS. Register here.


“Time Changed: The State of Arab Media”
12:30 p.m. – Kenny Auditorium, Nitze Building
Muna Shikaki a correspondent at Al Arabiya News, and Joyce Karam a correspondent at Al Hayat Newspaper will speak on this subject. For more information and to RSVP, please click here.


The United States-Japan-Korea Trilateral Relationship
4:30 p.m.—Room 806, Rome Building
Ambassador Sung Kim, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Korea and Japan, Special Representative for North Korea Policy and the Former American Ambassador to the Republic of Korea, will discuss the evolving nature of the US-Japan-Korea relationship and possible future developments.  

Seventy years have passed since the end of WWII and with the recent visits to the US by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Korean President Park Geun-Hye and Chinese President Xi Jinping in connection with that anniversary, American relations with the Far East has taken on a new energy. Tensions on the Korea Peninsula introduce further dangers. This event is off-the-record. Please register here.

Thanks for reading!