Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Student Profile: Priyali Sur

Name: Priyali Sur
Program: MIPP 2016
Affiliation: Energy, Resources, Environment (ERE)
Hometown: Kolkata, India
Former Occupation: Journalist

When considering graduate school, what was appealing about SAIS?
When I decided to take a mid-career break from journalism and pursue academics, I wanted to be in an environment that blended academics and professional skills. SAIS provided that perfect combination for me with its professors and faculty from the industry and with the school located in Washington DC, the center of policy-making and international affairs.

SAIS also offered a varied range of courses and areas of study, which was a perfect fit for me. As a journalist who has reported in India, I wanted to focus on strategic studies in South Asia and how U.S. foreign policy impacts that region. Also having worked as a consultant at the World Bank in the Energy and Water department, I wanted to major in ERE. SAIS offers a unique concentration of ERE which focuses on key global issues of climate change, environment resources and energy. The ERE concentration helped me understand not just the basics but also crucial issues that can be applied to my current work.

What do you hope to do after graduation?
After graduation, I’d like to continue working in the field of international relations and policy, be it in journalism or with other multilateral organizations. Being at SAIS, has given me the opportunity to study in depth country policies and also do a comparative analysis of successful and ineffective policies in different regions. I have also been fortunate enough to learn from the best in the industry. SAIS brings the best and the most experienced faculty and through the readings and class assignments students are prepared for the professional world. In my concentration of ERE, most of the assignments - drafting policies - required me to work in groups or individually on critical and current issues. This also involved interacting with and learning from government officials, policy makers and corporate organizations. All of this has prepared students including me to feel more confident and better prepared for our future endeavors.

What advice would you give to applicants coming from outside the U.S.?
For students coming from outside the U.S., SAIS offers great scope for networking and good internships since it is located in Washington DC. With most think tanks such as Brookings Institution, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, all situated at a stone throw distance; it gives students the opportunity to attend important talks and sessions even during a busy school day. My suggestion would be to make the most of SAIS’ location and start networking and forming professional connections right from the start. Also with a lot of SAIS alumni based in Washington DC it helps students connect with many SAIS working in their area/field of interest.    

What are you most passionate about?
Human rights issues with a deeper focus on gender rights, has been a passion for me ever since my reporting days. Through storytelling and documentary film-making I have tried to highlight the most pressing issues that pertain to women and human rights in conflict. A better understanding of government policies and local initiatives is very important in this regard to present the big picture. SAIS and the curriculum here has helped me immensely in getting a deeper and more coherent understanding of issues I am passionate about.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Exploring Washington: Dupont Circle

As part of our Exploring Washington series, we wanted to dedicate a post to Dupont Circle: home to Johns Hopkins SAIS. With its bistros, bars, bookstores, upscale retail stores, and tree-lined streets, Dupont Circle is one of North West Washington's most trendy and sought out locations. Dupont is an especially attractive neighborhood for those interested in the field of international relations, as a number of the embassies, policy institutes, and think tanks in Dupont offer events and seminars that are open to the public. 

Designed by architect Pierre Charles L'Enfant, Dupont Circle  remained a relatively undeveloped neighborhood until a large influx of new residents arrived in Washington following the American Civil War. The neighborhood experienced a decline after World War II and particularly after the 1968 Washington, D.C Riots, then resurged in 1980s and 1990s as a result of gentrification.

Dupont circle is one of the more expensive Washington neighborhoods, with monthly rent prices ranging between $1400-2400 for a studio, $2000-2900 for a one-bedroom and $2400-3600 for a two-bedroom. Though rent is relatively expensive in Dupont, with hard work and persistence, it is possible to find reasonably priced housing. Residences in Dupont are predominately historic rowhomes built in the early 1900s and mid-rise apartment buildings.

Dupont Circle encompasses a number of cultural attractions, including Embassy Row; the National Geographic Museum; President Woodrow Wilson's former home; the Phillips Collection; DC Improv, the city’s most popular comedy club; and Dupont Underground, 75,000 square foot tunnel used for public educational events, art exhibitions, and pop-up retail and dining.

Dupont underground is a 75,000 square foot tunnel used for public events and pop-up shops. Pictured above is Dupont Underground's premiere art exhibit, "Re-Ball."

More In This Series:
Exploring Washington: Embassy Row
Exploring Washington: Think Tank Row

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

This Day in History: The Bretton Woods Conference

From July 1-22 1944, seven-hundred and thirty delegates gathered in New Hampshire to reform the post-World War II international monetary and financial order. The International Monetary Fund, which is located less than one mile from campus, was established as a result of the conference. As July draws to a close, we wanted to share some interesting facts about SAIS' relationship to the IMF as commemoration.

John Lipsky (center), former IMF Managing Director and current Senior Fellow at the SAIS Foreign Policy Institute moderates a panel on global financial stability. 
  • John Lipsky, former deputy managing director of the IMF joined SAIS as a s a distinguished visiting scholar in 2012. Lipsky served from September 2006 to August 2011 as the International Monetary Fund’s first deputy managing director—the organization’s No. 2 leadership role.
  • The International Monetary Fund Headquarters is located less than a mile from the JohnsHopkins SAIS campus.
  • A number of Johns Hopkins SAIS alumni work at the International Monetary Fund as researchers and analysts. 
  • Mitsuhiro Furusawa, Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund visited campus in March to deliver remarks on long-term growth prospects in the Middle East and Central Asia.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Student Profile: Cecilia Emmanuel

Name: Cecilia Emmanuel
Program: GPP 2016
Occupation prior to SAIS: Export Regulatory Compliance Manager

When considering graduate school, what was appealing about SAIS?
In my search for a graduate school, I considered how well each school fits my life mission. I attended multiple open houses and reviewed course offerings for a number of Policy Schools. Though I found many with strong offerings, I kept returning to SAIS. The structure of their programs, the history as well as the location played a major role in my decision. Finally, after reading John Hopkins University’s mission the following words moved me, “…the advancement of individual scholars, who by their excellence will advance the sciences they pursue, and the society where they dwell.”  The mission of Johns Hopkins University (JHU) has been my life’s pursuit. We must always strive to advance the societies in which we dwell. The Global Policy Program (GPP) is a part time (with a full time feel) program that allows me to continue the job I love while earning a degree that would ultimately propel my life mission- advocating for women and the aged.

What has been your favorite SAIS course so far, and why?
Not surprisingly, Politics and Risk. This course explores the political risks involved in all decisions made in pursuing trade in the global arena. My professor is phenomenal and an expert in his field. As an advocate and authority on issues with failed states, Professor Kaplan pushes us to think beyond what is “typical”.  In his words “politics affects risk on many levels (e.g., international, national, regional, and local), and is the result of the interaction of many different elements.” He pushes us to understand the perspective of the other side and in doing so, we get a better perspective; what might seem as an injustice from one side may not be seen as such in the eyes of those closest to the issue. Everyone has a rational reason for their actions. This is a great lesson not only for politics but for life as well.

What is some advice you would give to someone considering applying to a program like SAIS?
Go for it! You will not regret the decision. SAIS has an amazing faculty of global experts and contributors to policy debates and decisions. In my program, I’ve been taught by the Dean of SAIS, professionals from the State Department and World Bank and the list goes on. The combination of professors from the academic and professional fields makes for an enriching experience. Don’t be overwhelmed by the readings and assignments; the professors expect a lot from you but keep reading and you’ll soon fall into the rhythm. As Dean Nasi advised, on our first day, the brain is a muscle and the more your read (exercise it), the easier it becomes. By the end of the program, you will gain a new sense of approach to your decisions and how you analyze incidents around the world.

What advice would you give to applicants coming from outside the U.S.?
Don’t be afraid or overwhelmed. SAIS is indeed a community and the faculty and students are always willing to embrace and assist. Do not think that the “Strategy & Policy” class (which discuss military strategy and war) does not pertain to your overall degree or your country, it does. U.S foreign Policy is implemented by the multiple agencies including DOD; an understanding of the thought processes that produce the policy and the final action is necessary if we wish to maintain peace in the world. Finally, be open to learning from your class mates, SAIS provides an incredible learning environment and opportunity with at least 45% of that coming from my cohort.

What has surprised you the most being at SAIS?  
The people I have met and their willingness to share their experience and offer support. I have gained so much from our cohort and professors. I am lucky to be part of the inaugurating class and we have truly become a family. I have classmates from the State Department, various embassies, United Nations, World Bank, consultancy, media, non-profit and originating from every continent. It’s a melting pot of experiences, knowledge and diversity. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Photo's From Last Night's Summerfest

Thank you to all the prospective students who braved the heat last night to join us for the last night's Summerfest reception. For those who missed it, one more Summerfest reception will be held July 20 in New York City. For more information and to register, please click here.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Student Profile: Taina Guimaraes Alvarenga

Name:  Taina Guimaraes Alvarenga
Program: GPP/ 2016
Hometown: Campinas, Brazil
Occupation: Diplomat at the Embassy of Brazil in Washington D.C.

When considering graduate school, what was appealing about SAIS?
Going to graduate school was a plan I was postponing for a long time so I could focus on my professional career. When I started my assignment at the Brazilian Embassy, I knew that this would be a unique opportunity to get this project off the ground and make the most of my time in DC. The Global Policy Program (GPP) at SAIS offered the flexibility that I needed with the quality of education that I wanted. Since the GPP is a mid-career program, I was also attracted by the opportunity of interacting with professionals from different backgrounds and learning from their experiences.

What has been your favorite SAIS course so far, and why?
One of the highlights of the course so far was the simulation on international negotiations. Even though I already have some experience in this area, it was very useful to practice some skills in an academic environment. The simulation lasted for three days, and everyone was so committed to it that it felt very real. The entire process was interesting, from the readings we had to do beforehand to the debriefing after the simulation was over.  It was also the kind of experience that brought our cohort closer together and strengthened our friendship.

Where are you interning/working, and what type of work do you do?
I joined the Brazilian foreign service in 2009. Back home in Brasilia I worked with different issues, including Africa, the Middle East, and international organizations. I have also served for a short period in Turkey. At our Embassy in Washington I am in charge of the environment and space portfolio, which involves overseeing Brazil-US cooperation on issues such as climate change, biodiversity, water, and space policy.

What is some advice you would give to someone considering applying to a program like SAIS?
I would encourage them to participate as much as possible in the information sections and, if they have the opportunity, visit SAIS and attend some lectures and classes. It was by doing those things that I realized that SAIS was the school I was looking for. Taking care early on of the documentation you will need, like transcripts, letters of recommendation and test scores will make the admission process less stressful.

What advice would you give to applicants coming from outside the U.S.?
One of the most rewarding aspects about SAIS is the opportunity to study in a diverse environment. So international students should know that their participation is one of the things that makes SAIS great. Though this is a substantial investment and it might be quite challenging to find financial aid, I would encourage international students to be persistent and explore different fellowship opportunities.

Coolest trip you have taken with your peers?
I have the feeling that our coolest trip is yet to come. In November we will travel to India to work on our final projects. I can’t wait.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Exploring Washington: Embassy Row

This is part two in our blog series about life in the District of Columbia. Last week, we highlighted Think Tank Row and its proximity to campus. The week, we wanted to share a few interesting facts about Embassy Row, a historic stretch along Massachusetts Avenue in which numerous embassies and diplomatic missions are located.
  1. The District of Columbia is home to 177 diplomatic missions, 35 of which are located on Embassy Row.
  2. Embassy Row is 1.5 miles from campus, a 30 minute walk.
  3. SAIS' Bernstein-Offit building was formerly home to the Embassy of the German Democratic Republic.
  4. In the early 19th and 20th centuries, Embassy Row was known for its mansions, housing the city's social and political elites. Appropriately, the stretch between Scott's Circle and Sheridan Circle is nicknamed "Millionaire's Row."

Friday, July 1, 2016

Office Closure: July 4 Holiday

We wish everyone a happy 4th of July! In observance of the holiday, our office will be closed Monday, July 4. Normal operations will resume Tuesday, July 5. Feel free to send us your questions via email. We will respond when we return.