SU Student Interns at Hague's International Peace and Security Institute
SALISBURY, MD---Unsolicited emails are a part of most people’s daily lives. Few, however, are as poignant as the one Salisbury University student Brittany Foutz received last spring.
Instead of announcing the latest sale at Macy’s or an item she may be interested in on Amazon, this email explained that she had been nominated — she’s still not sure by whom — for a summer internship at the International Peace and Security Institute (IPSI) at The Hague in the Netherlands.
The second-year graduate student from Baltimore, pursuing an M.A. in conflict analysis and dispute resolution, responded. Following an interview process, she found an even more intriguing message in her inbox several weeks later.
“I received an email one day asking if I could leave in two weeks for Europe,” she said.
She could. The only issue was, she could not afford the airfare. Turning to SU for help, she received grants from the offices of the deans of Graduate Study and Research and the Charles R. and Martha N. Fulton School of Liberal Arts. A scholarship from IPSI covered the remainder of the cost.
During her month at The Hague, she met other IPSI nominees from around the world — students selected to learn about diplomacy and peacemaking through the program, overseen by the United Nations and its International Institute for Peace.
During the day, they studied together at Clingendael Academy, taking classes in a house once used as a headquarters for Nazi forces during Germany’s occupation of the Netherlands. There, they heard from representatives of the United Nations, U.S. State Department and U.S. Foreign Aid, among others.
In the evenings, they sat in on trials at the International Criminal Court, as accused heads of state and military leaders were brought before the court to answer for war crimes.
She and others also worked to establish plans for a transitional justice mechanism to redress the human rights issues that led to the Syrian revolution. Toward the end of their session, they were coached by a diplomat from Afghanistan, who critiqued their ideas.
Since returning, Foutz said she has paid more attention to news from Syria because of her involvement. She also has near-daily communication with Syrian students from her cohort, along with many others.
“I have friends from all over the world now,” she said.
Of course, there also was time for fun. One evening, all participants were asked to make a dish from their native countries for an international dinner. Foutz contemplated representing the U.S. with cheeseburger sliders, but ultimately opted to join students from Colombia in preparing her favorite dish, chicken and rice. She formed a connection to South America while studying abroad there on a U.S. State Department scholarship through SU’s Center for International Education in 2010.
The overall experience helped Foutz realize she was on the right track with her career choice, which is to become a professor of international conflict analysis and dispute resolution. After earning her master’s from SU, she plans to pursue her doctorate.
It also opened up doors, including job offers and a chance to attend events hosted by the United Nations, U.S. State Department and Council of Foreign Affairs.
One such event, a networking opportunity for graduate conflict analysis and dispute resolution students hosted by Foreign Affairs magazine in Washington, D.C., attracted a special guest: President Barack Obama. Foutz also has been nominated to attend a peace panel event with Obama in October.
Though the impact of the experience has been immense, the SU graduate student summed it up in five succinct words: “It has changed my life.”
For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU website at www.salisbury.edu.