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December 2018 - Maki O'Bryan

December 2018

Maki O'Bryan

BA International Studies (Political Economy and Development); BA Asian Studies (Japanese Studies) ’19

Hometown: San Francisco, CA

Affiliations: Vice President of the Japan Student Association, Member of Kappa Alpha Pi Pre-law Fraternity

“Over these past three years, I have explored International Studies in as many ways as I could. Outside of the classroom, I went abroad during the spring term of 2017. I spent two weeks in Brussels, Belgium, learning about the European Union (EU) shortly after the Brexit vote and amidst an international conversation on immigration focusing on Greece and Turkey. The two weeks were packed with trips to missions, think tanks, and various organizations of the EU. This was an especially informative trip because I was looking to explore in more detail the relationship between Europe and Asia, knowing not much about the former. We visited a shelter for persons who had been trafficked, where many victims had come from countries in Africa and in Southeast Asia. This particular shelter trains foreign police and law enforcement in these countries to spot signs of human trafficking. This reaffirmed my belief in international cooperation, and I hope to one day help form these relationships and agreements.

Another critical link, of course, is Turkey. You cannot discuss the history of Europe or Asia without talking about Turkey. The representative from the Turkish mission, though, baffled me when he expressed his contempt for Turkey not being part of the EU, citing the 'western ideals' Turkey holds and essentially expressed that Turkey is better than its neighbors in the Middle East and Asia. The shelter and the mission were two very different learning experiences, but they reaffirmed everything that I have learned in my classes: that countries don’t operate in isolation from each other.

These experiences abroad enhanced my love of International Studies. Studying and comparing international issues around the world can be messy, but I love that I can continue to learn about Asia even in my experience abroad in Europe and that I get to see the intersection between economic development, rule of law, and human rights in all of my International Studies classes. The world is your case study, nothing is off limits.

Back in Ann Arbor, I have interned at an immigration law firm and have done research at the Michigan Law School on refugee and asylum rights. Both of these experiences have given me a more professional framework to view International Studies. International Studies is so interdisciplinary and has allowed me to do so many things, so I decided to write an Honors thesis to culminate my time in PICS. I am excited to take what I have learned in class, my study abroad, and my work experience and apply it to whatever I end up doing after graduation.”

Future plans: “I am hoping a law career is in my future. I am currently applying to various fellowships and programs that would take me to Asia after I graduate. I never spent a semester or a year abroad, and I would like the opportunity to do that while either teaching, doing research, or working in the legal or policy fields. I believe that doing this before going into law school will provide more insight into the type of legal profession I would like to go into, whether that be security, human trafficking, international arbitration, or something else entirely. I would also like to work in government diplomacy once I am more established and specialized, representing our country through the U.S. Department of State, investigating international crimes with the Department of Justice, or doing analysis for an intelligence agency.”