Does anyone else every have that dream that wakes you up at an unearthly hour because you think you forgot to submit an assignment or are late for a class or group meeting? I’m not saying this wakes me up every morning, but on days that the bright sunlight streaming through my open window does not slowly awaken me to another beautiful day in Monterey, a dream like this will certainly jar me awake in a panicked frenzy.
Most days I’m at school or a cafe around 10, starting my day off with coffee or a pot of chai tea and almond milk before delving into the ever-growing list of homework assignments, group meetings and daily classes scheduled throughout the week. Depending on the day, I arrive at Dr. Laurance’s Armed Violence and Development class by 10, armed with the week’s readings and a new draft of my research project. This class has been one of the most impactful classes I have taken at MIIS, prompting me to consider a future career in the security field and also teaching me to look deeper into current issues involving armed groups, cycles of violence and varying security measures/laws through a development lens. Today, I presented my final project on armed, non-state actor’s adherence to international law and/or codes of conduct. I hope to show a positive correlation between this adherence and increased long-term national development.
Pausing for a lunch break, where I generally finish last minute assignments and catch up on emails over a caprese salad, I try to spend some time outdoors by sitting somewhere in the sun and feeling the salty sea breeze rush in over the bay. One of my only regrets from this past year has been not taking more time to explore the natural beauty of the local coastline, a regret I plan on remedying during my final year of school starting next fall. Other days, I spend an hour at the free student yoga class where I take my mind off of school just long enough to re-center and remind myself that health, wellbeing and exercise are also vital aspects of my daily life that truly make me a happier person in all aspects of my life.
Ok, back to school and right into Grassroots Leadership and Development. Taking this class as been transformative because it helped to effectively couple my passions for the policy world at the governmental level and the work done by social change organizations on constituent-centered projects at the grassroots, local level. Throughout my first year at MIIS I have tried to combine both areas of interest effectively by taking a combination of Public Administration and International Policy Studies: Human Security and Development classes so that my skillset and experience mirrors my desire to combine both areas into a potential career.
To end my day, I attend my one-on-one Turkish language class with my professor from the Defense Language Institute. Seeing as my language class is a directed study course, I have been lucky enough to tailor my language learning to two of my areas of deep interest, women’s human rights and current international affairs, therefore helping me gain the vocabulary and professional speaking, reading and writing capacity to perhaps work confidently in Turkey within my field of study.
By the time I arrive back home I’m tired and hungry, usually working on several more assignments over dinner. I end my night with a long Skype chat with my amazing and supportive husband, Sultan, who is perusing his masters in International Construction Management at the University of Washington or my wonderful parents and siblings living in Oregon and Washington, before curling up to a deep, restful sleep.
At this point of the semester, however, my regular schedule is winding down and being replaced with the numerous late nights writing papers and studying for final exams, coupled with the random nights out for a glass of wine with friends to celebrate a successful class presentation, a fantastic fundraising event, or an amazing internship opportunity. Personally, I am thrilled to be headed to Washington D.C. for an internship with WI-HER (Women Influencing Health, Educational and Rule of Law) as a Gender Integration intern working on a USAID ASSIST project. Although I was initially intimidated by the intensity of living in D.C. over the summer, I have become increasingly excited to live in the innovative and internationally aligned city among fellow MIIS students, interns from around the world, and highly successful professionals with years of experience in my field of specialization. This incredible exposure to the professional world of international policy will push me even harder to achieve my career goals as a future international policy professional focusing on human security, human rights and international development.
Next year, I look forward to taking Intro to Conflict Resolution, a class that receives incredible reviews at MIIS, as well as working on the continuation of a college preparation resource manual project with my amazing partner and friend, Sarah Sterling, for Community Partnership for Youth. CPY is a local organization working to prevent gang violence through education and peer mentorship, and an organization I hope to work with further next year. I also look forward to blogging as frequently as possible for the Women’s International Perspective, a MIIS based online news platform highlighting women’s voices and perspectives from around the world. The WIP excites me because it is a forum through which I can combine what I am learning at MIIS with my interest in gender empowerment and human rights that may not be addressed directly though my coursework or projects. Their collaboration with the Monterey Institute is an incredible asset to the school! Currently, I am working on a post regarding local human trafficking issues and anti-trafficking work within Monterey County for the WIP. It is this excitement for the future coupled with the academic and professional preparation we are receive as MIIS students that that propels me forward and helps me strive to be my best self, academically and personally.
The final moments of sunset on Carmel beach or the happy laughter filling the air over happy hour at Restaurant 1833 make me really look back at this year and celebrate the hard work I have put into my education and the accomplishments I have earned. The incredible friendships I have developed at MIIS, the valuable support from my family and the revitalized passion to seek new opportunities and experiences as often as possible, are all reasons to look back at this year with great joy. I am immensely proud of the incredible adventures that my friends and classmates are embarking on this summer and the new careers they are starting all around the world. The hard work is paying off, my fiends! Cheers to us all, and I wish everyone success, happiness and new exiting experiences this summer and always.