Diplomacy is all about maintaining dialogue between parties to achieve a goal.
And what better place to immerse yourself in the intricacies of global relations than the United Nations (UN) headquarters.
Over the course of two days, I and fellow SOASians heard from many speakers from across the various divisions within the UN. We gained a clear insight into diplomacy in action as well as the machinations and interactions of the world’s governing body.
It was particularly interesting to hear about and question the speakers on the current themes and future challenges facing the global community: tackling climate change as a central, cross-pillar theme; delivering peace and security in an ever-changing world; understanding the difficulties in identifying migrants when supporting refugees; providing healthcare in developing countries where no system exists; and all things regarding human rights.
Our eclectic band of students were given time to question each speaker. And so the conversation evolved as we deepened our understanding of what it means to share this planet of ours, connecting on a human level to appreciate the background of our group when they brought examples from their culture or country.
One evening we met up with NYC-based alumni and online students, giving the group an opportunity to explore career options.
We continued our journey in Washington DC, where we spent the final two days meeting key staff from various thinktanks and government offices to expand our knowledge of how political bias informs, directs, and formulates policy research. Regardless of the students’ personal political views, the speakers were listened to attentively and questioned earnestly.
Fellow online student, Enos Wambua from Nairobi, Kenya, said: “I took away three things from this trip: connection, conversation, and culture. It was good to have a connection with the staff and finally meet them having emailed them several times over the course. It was good to have a conversation and understand more about thinktanks and ask each organisation pragmatic questions to better understand the theory. And it was great to see a broad range of backgrounds and culture in the students – we were like the United Nations!”
The CISD team run several trips throughout the year for online and campus-based students, including to Geneva, Addis Ababa, and the USA.