Global Humanitarian Studies Personal Statement Example

Ben and Jerry's: a non-state actor active in the realm of international politics. Although famous for its "phish food" and "cookie dough", deciding not to continue supplying their produce in illegally-occupied Palestinian territory resulted in a backlash across the world.

After considering giving up something I enjoyed in the name of a greater cause, I chose to boycott the company for a few months. In this instance, I was able to recognise the value of boycotting, which has played a large role in my interest in studying the increasing significance of non-state actors in the global political sphere.

Assessing the conflict from this perspective led me to research the responses to the company's decision to not renew the license agreement with its Israeli manufacturer in Be'er Tuvya, once expired. Having read an article on E-IR titled "Discriminatory Ice Cream" by Alexander Loengarov, I gained a deeper understanding of the views of Israeli ministers, including PM Naftali Bennett, who saw the Jewish founders' decision as "anti-Israel".

This struck me, as I never imagined the source of backlash for something as trivial as ice cream would ever come from a head of state. I found myself conflicted with Bennett's viewpoint, as the company chose not to withdraw from Israel despite that also being an option, which suggests to me that the action was made solely to challenge the infringement of human rights in lands Israel has a legal responsibility for.

This made me question whether brands, with personal links to the Israeli state, would value supplying to illegally-occupied territory at the cost of being boycotted by many all over the world. From my perspective, brands would prefer to stop supplying to a small area of land (in comparison to everywhere else they supply to) based on their profit incentive, rather than the claim that continuing supplies would be "inconsistent with [the brand's] values." In this case, however, I think that their decision being based on their values also undoubtedly aligns with the decision that results in greater profits.

A panel discussion on advocacy and international affairs by the FCDO made me recognise the significance of persuasion, through soft power instead of coercion, in strengthening foreign relations. As a result of this, I further researched Joseph Nye's concept of soft power by watching a TED talk delivered by Shashi Tharoor.

I was fascinated by how some believe that the ability to communicate was a luxury in developing countries rather than a right, an argument I find superficial as communications are a basic necessity for a globalised world to function effectively. I look forward to learning more about how those who are weaker are being kept weaker, not just by their hard assets but also by their inability to access soft power tools.

In my free time, I run a travel photography website, as well as write my own narratives. I am also involved in volunteer work for causes such as the crises in Yemen and Syria to help with issues involving food shortages, WASH, and healthcare amongst other issues resulting from conflict-driven poverty. This role has allowed me to build a link with those challenged in ways much different to my own - challenges I plan to increase my efforts on in the long term.

I have been able to appreciate the significance of global cooperation in addressing such crises, particularly how developed states provide developing states with financial and medical aid. As a strong believer in philanthropy, I think that having organisations dedicated to using the resources we have been blessed with to help others is key to global stability.

From ice cream to charity, the ongoings of the international political sphere touches on the most abstract and ordinary day-to-day aspects of our lives, and I look forward to continuing exploring this angle of the world through studies and research at university.

BSc Global Humanitarian Studies
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