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January 2019 - Sarah Jacob

January 2019

Sarah Jacob

BS International Studies (International Security, Norms, and Cooperation); minor, Islamic Studies ‘20

Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio

Affiliations: ARISE Mentorship Program, Sigma Iota Rho–Honor Society for International Studies, UMMA Student Engagement Council, LSA Opportunity Hub Student Advisory Team, U-M Recreational Sports Street Team, Michigan Gates Millennium Scholars Association, University of Michigan School of Education Research Assistant

“Following winter semester last year, I traveled to Prague in the Czech Republic to study nationalism, minorities, and migration. This opportunity provided by Center for Global and Intercultural Study and supported by the Program in International and Comparative Studies (PICS) entailed three weeks of intensive study. Every assignment detailed a moment in the complex, obstacle-riddled history of the Czech Republic. There was a unique focus on the people of the nation, as well as the politics. This emphasis lent itself well to being able to explore the city of Prague. I spent countless hours walking the cobblestone streets, taking in a culture I never learned about until college. In addition to deep and provocative readings, I was able to become close with Hungarian, Russian, and Polish authors I would not otherwise appreciate. I took my interest in the course so far as to even travel independently to Bratislava, Slovakia, and Krakow, Poland, for a supplemental exploration into cultures that surround the Czech Republic. Additionally, trips to two concentration camps and various sites of hardship, loss, and war grounded me in the reality of my education. It provided me with many reminders that the education I am earning at the University of Michigan and abroad is one I want to use to heal our global community. Whether walking through museums, cemeteries, or on pristine European streets home to many who are suffering, I was adamant to remain aware of all my surroundings.

Throughout, I felt challenged to strengthen my understanding of topics covered, as well as rework my relationship with history. This embodies the dynamic nature of academia and learning, which pushed me to grow with each passing class. My International Studies and Islamic Studies coursework uniquely connected me with the material. I felt passionate about the complex history I was learning as I saw it reflected in my study of the Ottoman Empire and human rights. Additionally, living in and exploring Prague presented unparalleled insights, new perspectives, and cultural understandings I could achieve only through this program. I widened my educational horizons far beyond regions I focused on during the school year. This travel provided personal interactions with people in a new part of the global community, plus the opportunity to visit parts of the world I did not anticipate.

Then, in what felt like a few hours, I repacked and stepped on a flight to Anchorage, Alaska, to complete a two-month internship with the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC). This internship introduced me to a new world and came about through the Arctic Internship Fellowship, administered and funded by PICS. The Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) is an international non-governmental organization with offices in Greenland, Canada, Russia, and Alaska, to represent and strengthen the Inuit community of the Arctic Region. I joined the Alaska office as they prepared to host the 13th General Assembly for their organization in Utqiagvik, Alaska. My many projects included a complete social media rebranding, planning of the conference, and developmental research. These jobs and others provided me a learning environment to understand the real workings of an NGO and international organization communicating across borders and against language barriers. I was supported to perform my own research into aspects of the Inuit community and the organizations that interested me as I made connections with people around the world.

Furthermore, the experience of living in Alaska provided me with redefined perspective of our global environment and the importance of climate change. From witnessing 24-hour sunlight to walking on glaciers, I felt a serious responsibility for our environment and the policy that shapes our interactions with our planet. This gained importance to me as I engaged with the Inuit community, a group who feels some of the most brutal impacts of our changing environment. Furthermore, working for ICC Alaska influenced much of my professional mindset. The organization illustrated to me a group that is immensely important to international policy and security. Additionally, I witnessed how much an organization such as ICC can matter to those they aim to represent. In short, aiding with the planning and execution of the General Assembly did much more than transport me to the top of the world.

From overlooking the metropolitan city of Prague at sunset to embracing the quiet beauty of the Arctic tundra, I experienced the most influential summer of my life.”

Future plans: “This coming fall, I will begin my junior year and continue completing my degree. In the following semesters, I plan to take courses largely influenced by the experiences and knowledge I gained from this summer. Also, I will begin working on an Honors thesis for my International Studies major. Through concluding my coursework, I also aim to more deeply understand the intricacies of the brain and embed a neuroscience perspective into my personalized International Studies material. Beyond the University of Michigan, I hope to work with, and for, organizations similar to the Inuit Circumpolar Council in an effort to advance international security and peacekeeping efforts.”