Mary Sherman, MPA ’19

EAST ASIA PRACTICUM (CHINA & JAPAN)

 Group picture in front of The Diet

What I found most valuable was seeing the different points of view and world views of each country in the span of a couple of days. These direct conversations with policy makers and academics about foreign policy and development allowed me to reflect on how countries perspectives of themselves and of others facilitates or inhibits collaboration or coordination. This ultimately creates relationships that are either hostile or friendly upon a given world view. The rhetoric by the representatives of their nations demonstrates these world views. I feel privileged to be able hear these world views in their countries and from their mouths directly. It is truly a unique experience that allowed me to peak into the world of foreign relations. I saw how difficult it can be to converge world views to work together when they are so opposing. Navigating this conversation and being a liaison between countries would be quite fascinating. I also think underneath all of their rhetoric it is interesting to see what they are not saying and what is under the surface. I think of the iceberg theory of communication and how each country and the heads of state say represent the country’s iceberg. How do you begin to navigate conversations such as these when 80% is unsaid? How can we begin to collaborate when each country has their own world view and their own agendas? These questions are what we see playing out before us in the world of foreign relations. I am now even more careful as I read about international affairs, what is unsaid is just as powerful as what is being said.

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