February 3, 2012

Studying A-fraud

Hello, it’s me again.

I will be continuing my blog this semester from Washington D.C., where I am currently studying a-fraud. That’s right. A-fraud: when a person studies away from their home school, domestically. In fact, I am only a few hours south of Lafayette (and I will be visiting as much as possible).

This spring, I am participating in American University’s Washington Semester Program (WSP) for International Law and Organizations in our nation’s capital. AU has a special relationship with Lafayette in that Lafayette is a member school of WSP and regularly sends students to participate in AU’s programs in D.C. Washington D.C. is one of my favorite cities in the world and I am excited to spend the second half of my year abroad here.

I will begin by giving an overview of my seminar class: International Law and Organizations (ILO). As you can imagine we are studying international law and international organizations, including the UN, WTO, EU, and various other acronyms (sounding less fraudulent?). D.C. is the perfect place to begin a program of this nature, but to really understand the international side of the program we travel to the UN headquarters in New York City, as well as to Geneva, Switzerland, Strasbourg, France, Trier, Germany, The Hague and Brussels and Bruges, Belgium to visit a variety of international organizations and international law bodies. In addition to our class’ travel abroad (even less fraudulent), my class is geographically diverse and consists of students from all over the world including Korea, Norway, El Salvador, Brazil and many different states of the USA, which definitely makes up for the fact that I am still in the United States… or maybe not.

In addition to the seminar class and our travel component, students at WSP are required to secure an internship for two days each week for the duration of the semester. I have an internship with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a think-tank affiliated with the US Congress located just a few blocks from the White House in Federal Triangle. At the Wilson Center I intern with the Program on America and the Global Economy as a research assistant. I also attend outside events for the program and, you know, make copies. I also post blog entries for PAGE on the Wilson Center website. My first blog on the State of the Union address was recently posted; read it here.

Because I am behind on posting and I want to include highlights from the past few weeks, here is a list of things that happen to a person in D.C. (namely me): I happened to attend the same free MLK Jr. Day concert at the Kennedy Center as the Obamas; I saw former President Bill Clinton speak- and he shook my hand; I have been ice skating across the street from the National Archives; I have a Library of Congress library card; I have met a number of foreign ambassadors to the United States; and I will be attending a Valentine’s Day Gala at the French Embassy next week.

So now that you know what I am up to this semester, I wanted to share a little bit about how I got here. I chose to study away from Lafayette this year to gain perspective (although I miss Laf terribly, more about that later). I began my journey in sub-Saharan Africa, in Tanzania where humanity was born… and here I am in Washington D.C., arguably the most powerful and influential city in the world today.

Why? Again, my answer is perspective. I just spent a semester eating donated rice and living with families who live in what many people would consider poverty. Tanzania receives aid from USAID, which is located in the same building as my internship. Tanzania is a member of the UN, which I will be visiting in mid-February. Sub-Saharan Africa is an integral part of the international community in that it relies so heavily on international law and organizations. I wanted to spend a semester with the people who are affected most by the decisions of the international community and then spend the following semester learning about how the international community makes its decisions. I planned out the entire year to be a cohesive curriculum for myself to gain some perspective.

posted in Devon Thorsell

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