Since today is Thanksgiving Day, I thought it might be a good idea to share what I’m most thankful for here at Hopkins. My clubs are great, roommates wonderful, and certainly my favorite restaurant, Zaatar, can’t go without a mention. But beyond all of those things, what I’m most thankful for here at Hopkins is the fantastic people I’ve found within my major, International Studies.
IS, as it’s affectionately known, is where I’ve found my community and a home base here on campus. Under the leadership of Dr. Sydney Van Morgan, I really can’t think of another place on campus where I feel so continuously welcome to share my ideas and pursue my interests.
One of the best parts of IS, in my opinion, is our student leadership group, the International Studies Leadership Council, where we are split into half a dozen or so committees focused on different facets of how to enhance the experience of IS majors for students on campus. IS is one of the top five, if not in the top three, majors here on campus by size – I think there’s somewhere around 380 of us between freshmen to seniors. That’s a pretty large group of people, and because of how interdisciplinary the program is, almost everyone is focusing on a different facet of IS. I’m focusing on European/Eurasian regional studies, but many of my friends are East Asian Studies, Middle East Studies, security studies, or concentrate specifically in US foreign policy, not to mention folks that choose to pair IS with Applied Math, Economics, or Computer Science! There’s a lot to do in IS – and there’s a growing number of double major and minor tracks too – which could make finding a community here all the more difficult.
The good news is that ISLC, and the IS program generally, make it easy to hone yourself into our community here. We host programs almost weekly for small, intimate get-togethers, like Faculty Friday lunches, “Lunch & Learn” brownbag sessions with alums or faculty, or more formal panel or discussion programs with other clubs on campus. One of my absolute favorites was a discussion between Dr. Steven David, the professor for Contemporary International Politics (the intro IS course! #tbt to freshman fall ❤️), and Daniel Fried, a lifelong US diplomat, former ambassador to Poland, and former Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia (aka goals!!). It was incredible to watch these two men discuss the state and future of US-Russia relations, but even more incredible to go to dinner with them after! Since I am the chair of the Social committee of ISLC, I was invited to dinner as well.
Of course, dinners with ambassadors aren’t the everyday norm here, but that evening was a great example of how the IS program gives back to me, and gives back to me so often. I know that when I walk into the offices in Mergenthaler Hall, I’ll always be welcome to talk about my studies, help plan a study break, or sometimes, just to chat.