Student Stories: Model UN Conference

img_4603Happy New Year! We’re kicking off the new semester with a throwback to last year when the USF Model UN club traveled to Los Angeles, CA to participate in the third annual University of Southern California Trojans Model United Nations conference in October. Want to join them next time? Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to find out when their first meeting of the spring semester will take place and how you can participate.

Thirteen delegates from the University of San Francisco, partially sponsored the International Studies department, represented various entities, characters, and countries in different committees during the conference. The committees ranged from general assembly groups like the World Health Organization and Social Cultural and Humanitarian Committee to specialized committees on the European Union and Los Angeles 2024 Olympics Organizing Committee. Additionally, delegates participated in “special crisis” committees like Trojan War: Greeks, Petrobras Board of Directors and the Golden Age of Piracy.

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“We had an exciting weekend of debate, networking and politics. As a Model United Nations club, we participate in various MUN conferences over the country. These conferences provide us with the opportunity to research the entity we are representing. Our engagement in the debate over the topics concerning the committees enhances our public speaking, negotiation, and diplomacy skills. Diplomacy is an art, and just like any art form, it takes practice to excel in it. These conferences help us put what we learn in classes into perspective. I, for example, by representing Nigeria at the UN Social Cultural and Humanitarian Committee, on the topics of Gender Inequality and Corporate human rights, was able to apply all I learned from my Politics and Development in Africa class.”   -Mustafa Zahid, BAIS ‘17

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“I was glad to be a part of a Crisis Committee titled “Pirates”. I went into it unsure exactly of how pirates could possibly be tied into the themes MUN, globalization, and coalition-building. However, by the end of the conference, I had helped pass directives through long voting blocs that involved issues surrounding global free trade, colonialism, fair representation, slavery, democracy, religion, and much, much more. I would not have been able to attend an amazing event or learn so much outside of the classroom had it not been from the support of the International Studies Department and other supporters of our club… We learn so much from these conferences. Classrooms have some limitations and many time restraints, but when we are able to go to conferences like these, we write and apply our own policies and resolutions into global situations.”  – Hannah Do, BAIS ‘18

“I had a great time representing Slovakia in an EU committee, where we were trying to find a common agreement on how do deal with the refugee crises coming from the Syrian civil war and North Africa. It was a very intellectually stimulating conference, and I would be happy to do it again. I was also happy that I got to bond with some of my teammates, I feel as if we left the conference stronger as a team, which is the most important part of the club.”  – Gabe Greschler, Politics ‘19

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Alumni Spotlight: Edwin Carmona-Cruz, BAIS ’15

Edwin Carmona-Cruz
Edwin shares what he’s been up to since graduating from USF with a major in International Studies last year. 

I have not stopped “Changing the world from here” since graduating with a B.A. in International Studies (Peace and Conflict) and minor in Latin American Studies from the University of San Francisco.

I am currently working as an Immigration Paralegal for a non-profit legal center in San Francisco’s Mission District called La Raza Centro Legal. We primarily focus on affirmative immigration applications: Citizenship, Deferred Action (DACA), U-Visa, Resident Green Card Renewals, Advance Parole etc. as well as provide Know Your Rights presentations in the community in response to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids for deportation. During my senior year at USF, I interned for this agency in their housing department, fighting against greedy landlords in San Francisco and helped with Eviction Defense legal work. La Raza Centro Legal is also a part of a city-wide collaborative called the San Francisco Immigrant Legal Education Network (SFILEN) where we have provided legal representation to more than 27,000 people in San Francisco, as well as education, and outreach during the past 10 years.

This past year, I have given presentations to classes in the College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University and at the U.S. Immigration and Citizenship class at USF (taught by Professor Kathleen Coll), on the topic of city issues and the great work La Raza Centro Legal is doing to fight and advocate on behalf of our clients and program participants and the relevance of these types of classes in our everyday lives; undocumented or documented.

International Studies student & USF basketball player Kalyn Simon (BAIS ’16, MAIS ’17) shines on and off the court

We are so proud of our USF women’s basketball team for making the NCAA playoffs this year! We are especially proud of International Studies student Kalyn Simon for both her work with the team as well as her dedication to International Studies!

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Essay by Kalyn Simon

As child I grew up watching basketball. My cousins, Dad, Grandpa, and I would gather around the television yelling play by play as if we were actually sitting in the stands. The Warriors have always been a family favorite, however March was always a special time of the year. March Madness was when the best of the best competed for the national championship. The tournament was for both men’s and women’s teams so there were constantly games for us to watch. It was pure magic watching such talented and driven athletes preform at their prime in pursuit of the NCAA championship. Entering the “Big Dance” is an experience athletes dream about their entire collegiate careers. The conditioning sessions at six in the morning were all for the glory of cutting down the nets and playing under the big lights of the NCAA.

This year instead of yelling at the television screen, my family was yelling in the stands. Winning our West Coast Conference Championship was one of the most memorable and exciting experiences I have had. As the final buzzer sounded in Las Vegas our team sprinted out onto the court and embraced one another. Smiles engulfed each player’s, coach’s, and USF fan’s faces as confetti fell from the ceiling and we each kissed the enormous golden trophy. In this moment, I along with my amazing teammates was floating on cloud nine. The only thing better than cutting down the nets that day was the realization that we were “going dancing” or headed to participate in the NCAA tournament.

From that moment on I felt invincible. I received texts and emails from my professors from the International Studies department and the greater USF community. I felt so proud to be able to represent my major and my school. The next week we found out we would be playing against Stanford. We practiced and prepared the entire week for the upcoming opponent. We approached the game as any other, but in the background we could not help but smile. We smiled knowing that together through the blood, sweat, and tears we had finally reached the next level.

Kalyn Simon Fan Club

The outcome on the scoreboard at Stanford was not in our favor, but it is an experience I will cherish for a lifetime. I am blessed to have been able to play alongside teammates just as driven and talented as the ones I admired on television fifteen years ago. It was an experience built on the hard work and endless belief of in our staff and players who refused to give up. Just as I had imagined as a child, walking onto that court under the big lights was pure magic. However this is not the end. We will continue to fight until we end up on the winning end of the NCAA tournament, a tournament of champions.

Alumni Spotlight: Andrew Shaffer, MAIS ’12

“…the study habits I learned from MAIS faculty, the research skills I learned from seminars, the knowledge I gained from course readings, and the friendships I made with other students and staff have helped me at every step of the way.”

Shortly after graduating from MAIS, I started working for the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC), a San Francisco based nonprofit that provides legal training and advocacy for immigrant rights. My position there required extensive writing and editing, as well as managing fundraising events. At the ILRC I quickly realized how lucky I was to have received such excellent training in writing and research from MAIS faculty. Their feedback helped to hone my writing skills, and my boss later told me that my ability to write succinctly and persuasively helped me land the job. Additionally, keeping on top of the research that led up to my final thesis helped prepare me for managing events at the ILRC, developing my competence in handling competing priorities and rigid deadlines.

Now, as a doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin, I am so grateful for the classes I took at USF and the continued mentorship of MAIS faculty. Dr. Kaiser was incredibly helpful in selecting and completing a final thesis project, even after my original plan imploded a few weeks into fieldwork. The research I did for my MAIS thesis on LGBTQ rights in Argentina helped lay a lot of the groundwork for my dissertation, which looks at changes in LGBTQ spaces in San Francisco. Even more importantly, the study habits I learned from MAIS faculty, the research skills I learned from seminars, the knowledge I gained from course readings, and the friendships I made with other students and staff have helped me at every step of the way. I couldn’t have known where I would end up while I was still in MAIS, but the experiences I had at USF have served me well in a wide variety of environments.

Continue reading “Alumni Spotlight: Andrew Shaffer, MAIS ’12”

Current MAIS Student Jose Zacarias Blogs During his Immersion Trip to Puebla

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F15 MAIS student Jose Zacarias is spending his spring break on an immersion trip to Puebla, Mexico. Follow his adventures and insights on his blog – https://nwlsite.wordpress.com. Here is an excerpt:

Preparing for Puebla

While reading and studying the global economy produces fascinating discoveries nothing can compare to being immersed in a Country’s culture and economy. Saturday I will be traveling to Puebla, Mexico, and while I’m excited for the hopes of visiting Cholula, one of the oldest inhabited cities in Mexico, and feasting on Mole Pueblano on my first visit ever, the majority of my excitement comes from visiting a place that is today known as a transit site for Central American migrants making their treacherous way to the U.S. – Mexico border. Interestingly enough, Puebla is also rapidly becoming a hot spot for multinational corporations, like Audi (Coincidence?).

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UPDATE: Click here to listen to an interview conducted on Ibero Radio station about his experience in Puebla.

Student Spotlight: Meron Semedar, MAIS

…I know already my education at MAIS is playing a crucial role in growing and impacting more lives.

Meron Semedar speaking on country condition at the 11th United Nations Youth Assembly at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
Meron at the 11th United Nations Youth Assembly in New York – United Nations Headquarters.

My experience as a Master of Arts in International Studies student at the University of San Francisco by Meron Semedar

Having done significant advocacy work in a number of areas including human rights, refugee, migration, and youth empowerment, among others, I was actively seeking to find a program that would broaden my knowledge in these areas and expand my knowledge around world issues. After searching, I came across the Masters of Art in International Studies (MAIS) program at the University of San Francisco. An interdisciplinary program that was the closest to perfection that I could find. What I also appreciated about the program was that they are not just fixated on GPA but they take a holistic approach by also considering a lot of other criteria such as your involvement with organizations, articles you published, awards, speeches you gave, traveling experiences, places you lived among other societies, and even your outside interests (mine was running marathons for a cause). This made me even appreciate the program more because we all know students are more than merely an academic GPA. This also allows for an entering class that is comprised of students from a broad range of different backgrounds.

Continue reading “Student Spotlight: Meron Semedar, MAIS”