Tuesday, August 14, 2018
Students all agreed that the highlight of the week was the visit to the United Nations headquarters in New York.
The School of Diplomacy and International Relations has successfully launched its first International Relations Summer Institute. The one-week program, held from July 16 - 20, 2018, provided a group of ten selected junior and senior high-school students with a solid foundation in international affairs. Through interactive exercises, current events discussions, and workshops, the program also fostered their college-readiness skills. International Law and Human Rights were the overarching themes of the 2018 edition of the International Relations Summer Institute, offering students a deep dive into the concepts and issues defining humanitarian action and implementing international agreements.
Although based locally, the program attracted participants from all over the country as well as from overseas. Fifteen-year-old Rebecca Adimula, for instance, traveled all the way from Nigeria to participate in the Summer Institute and she was excited to find out how much the program connected her life experiences with her career goals. Despite their young age, in fact, the students' backgrounds revealed considerable familiarity with humanitarian issues. Rebecca herself has been part of the Charity and Social Awareness Club at her high school for years and at the tender age of twelve, she registered her own charity foundation with the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Today, Becky's Foundation provides physically challenged children in Nigeria with support and development opportunities.
Dr. Zinaida Miller leads a morning session on human rights and international law.
Rebecca is not the only example of how today's youth are increasingly engaged in the advancement of humanitarian issues, and the International Relations Summer Institute certainly provided them with a critical opportunity to connect with professionals from the field. Dr. Zinaida Miller, Assistant Professor of International Law and Human Rights at the School of Diplomacy and International Relations, led most of the week's in-class sessions in which the framework of international law was introduced and explored, including milestones such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Over the course of the week, participants then engaged in conversations about crucial, real-life matters with guest speakers such as Milagros Cruz, Community Relations Officer at the International Rescue Committee and Ticiana Maloney, Program Manager at Worldwide Orphans. Such encounters informed the young students' understanding on providing help to vulnerable communities in situations of conflict and severe underdevelopment. "The International Relations Summer Institute really expanded my horizons," said Gabriela Dos Santos, who was captivated by the guest speakers' testimony of how the ICCPR impacts the lives of young children and orphans in refugee communities.
The highlight of the week was the group's midweek trip to the United Nations headquarters in New York City. The students visited the United Nations Foundation headquarters in the morning and got to learn more about the United Nations mission, its current challenges and agenda, before visiting the Security Council chamber and the General Assembly Hall in the afternoon. All participants, without exception, agreed that visiting the United Nations was an outstanding experience.
To support the participants' retention of the Institute's concepts and ideas, the program blended human rights sessions with college-readiness workshops in which the students practiced how to make the most out of their learning experiences. Such workshops fostered time management and note taking skills, which proved essential throughout the Institute and will continue to benefit students in their future college classroom settings. Additionally, the School's Director of Professional Services hosted resume writing and interview skills workshops geared towards preparing students for careers in international humanitarian law, the U.S. Foreign Service, and non-profit organizations.
At the end of a very engaging week, the group celebrated its learning experience with a certificate award ceremony.
The inaugural Summer Institute was a learning and growth experience for both its participants and for the School of Diplomacy as well. Dean Andrea Bartoli, who actively encourages new initiatives at the School of Diplomacy, commented that, "It is essential for us to keep innovating." To this end, student feedback will be used by Associate Dean Ursula Sanjamino to help craft the next Institute, for which there are already several expressions of interest. "We look forward to preparing the next program and continuing a new tradition at the School," says Dean Sanjamino
To learn more about the International Relations Summer Institute and join our mailing list to be notified when the next program is available, please visit the International Relations Summer Institute web page.
Categories: Nation and World