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March 2021 - Karuna Nandkumar

March 2021

Karuna Nandkumar

BA Public Policy; minor, International Studies ‘21

Hometown: Silver Spring, Maryland

Affiliations: Co-President of the Michigan Foreign Policy Council, President of Amazin' Blue A Cappella, Students of Color in Public Policy, Ginsberg Center Community Leadership Fellow

“In my sophomore year of college, the Program in International and Comparative Studies (PICS) gave me the opportunity that solidified my desire to pursue foreign policy and diplomacy. I had the privilege of being awarded the PICS/DHRC/LACS Brazil Initiative Human Trafficking Clinic Fellowship to spend five weeks interning at the Slave Labor and Human Trafficking Clinic, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG) School of Law in Belo Horizonte, Brazil working with Judge Carlos Henrique Haddad. When I arrived in Brazil, I barely spoke any Portuguese. I soon realized that this inhibited my ability to connect with my Brazilian peers and assist victims through the clinic. I spent the next month immersing myself in Portuguese language and Brazilian culture. After five weeks, I was able to present to the clinic entirely in Portuguese on the similarities and differences between human trafficking law in the United States and Brazil. Learning the language helped me better support the work of the clinic and engage with the community. Since then, my work in Brazil, Mexico, and Switzerland has shown me that international cooperation is necessary to address the most serious threats to global security today. My experience in Brazil also showed me that a deep understanding of the language, culture, and perspective of a country is necessary to combat conflict and insecurity. I hope to promote this approach to diplomacy and international security in my future career.”

Future plans: “I was recently selected as one of 154 Schwarzman Scholars from around the world in the Class of 2022. I am honored and excited to spend the next year studying Global Affairs at the renowned Tsinghua University in Beijing. I can't wait to learn and expand my own perspective through relationships with a group of accomplished peers from a wide range of diverse backgrounds. As someone who hopes to pursue a foreign policy career, there is nothing more incredible than the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of China today. I am deeply thankful to my professors and advisors in PICS and the Ford School of Public Policy - none of this would have been possible without your support! ”