International Affairs Reflection #5

For the second event requirement of the semester for the International Affairs scholars program, I attended the debate on Syrian Civil War: American Policy in Syria on Wednesday, February 13th from 6:00-7:30 PM in Psychology Building 006, presented by The Alexander Hamilton Society. This event fulfilled the non-IA requirement. The debate featured Michael Singh, the Lane-Swig Senior Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and Dr. Randall Schweller of the Ohio State Political Science Department. The moderator was Dr. Chris Gelpi of the Mershon Center.

This event impacted my overall view on government and American foreign policy. Before going to the event, I was skeptical that I would even pay attention because it is not something I am normally interested in. However, the debate was actually very interesting and I enjoyed myself. I had a preconceived notion that government was boring and such a large institution could not create quick change. I was impressed by the experience and perspective that both sides had on the issue. The back and forth discussion changed my perspective on taking troops out of Syria and allowed me to consider all implications.

The debate directly relates to the topic of International Affairs. We learn about what is going on around the world and Personally, I believe that we should withdraw the troops and focus on larger issues. Other countries will be able to sustain themselves without our involvement and sometimes it is better to let people figure things out individually. I learned a great deal on Syrian culture and what officially led to the initial conflict and I am glad I was able to be present for this heated debate. This relates to a lot that I have learned in high school and in my history class last semester.

I gained a lot academically from this event. Before attending this event, it was important to recognize my own personal preconceived notions as well as how the general public might react. When thinking of Syria, the first thing that comes to mind is the Syrian refugees. These are citizens that have fled the country as the Syrian Civil War has brought detrimental effects since 2011. Several countries are unsure whether they should let people in for fear of a terrorist attack or other crimes. Furthermore, the American people simply don’t have trust in government. The media has not helped the situation, as immigrants are portrayed in a negative light. People have been forced out of Syria as the civilian death toll rises. The war initially broke out after a combination of factors. I learned about the implications of all decisions and feel informed if I were to make a decision. Personally, I also thought about my current career path and whether I should alter it slightly because I find these topics so interesting.

By attending this event, I was exposed to ideas I am not used to and was able to gain a better world view and learn more about the differences between American and Syrian culture. After attending I would want to know more about possible career options in this field and how I could possibly tie it in with finance and business.

International Affairs Reflection #2

For my second category of events for the International Affairs scholars program, I attended the U.S. State Department Information Session on Tuesday, October 30th from 3:00-4:30 PM in Cockins Hall. This event fulfilled the non-IA requirement. The topic was discussed by Dale Giovengo, diplomat in residence of the North Central region.

This event impacted my view on government jobs and future options for my personal career. Before listening to the speaker, I had a preconceived notion that government jobs were boring and a waste of time and resources. However, it seems very interesting to be able to travel to a variety of countries and serve as a diplomat. I was impressed by the sheer number of opportunities available to college students. There were four main categories of work described at the U.S. Department of State level including student programs, civil service, foreign service specialists, and foreign service officers. I am probably most likely to do the unpaid internship program at this point in my college After hearing about the differences between jobs I  had a different perspective on solving conflict with other countries. This relates to International Affairs because it is vital to maintain peace and negotiate with other world powers to benefit all parties.

I gained academic knowledge about specific details regarding the national government and programs currently in place. I learned that national security has a 70 billion dollar budget. I also found it interesting that a majority of the 71000 employees in the state department are foreign service nationals/locals that solve issues in the area. Dale Giovengo spoke about his personal experience before becoming involved with embassy operations in Albania, Pakistan, Switzerland, Iraq, and other countries. It was very beneficial to hear first-hand experience of working for the government. The amount of travel required could be fulfilling, but also rough on family life.

As a finance major, I did not think there were many professional opportunities with the U.S. Department of State. Before listening to Dale, I thought government jobs were mainly for people in public affairs or international studies. However, I was pleased to discover that there isn’t a specific major required to obtain a job in this category. Personally, I am interested in international business and believe this would be a good way to get involved in global interactions. Although I haven’t specifically discussed this kind of topic in any recent coursework, I am sure that I will learn more in my classes focused on international business.

After attending this event I am interested in learning more about the first steps I should take to get into programs and which ones I should apply for initially. I wonder if I have a good personality to succeed in these jobs or what I should do to improve my chances. I think I am still more interested in corporate finance but going down the government track could be an educational experience. Although it might not be my specific path, I was still glad to have learned about other options available.