International Relations Personal Statement Example 32

When visiting the Palais des Nations in Geneva, I became interested in how different sovereign states interact and work together. Seeing where some of the decisions that have changed the course of human history were made, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and also more recent decisions, such as operating peacekeeping missions around the world, was inspiring. Though I recognize the shortfalls of the UN in how the use of the veto power often pushes ideology, there is no doubt of the influence that it has over the way the world operates.

Last year I took part in an online course, collaborating with others to solve the hypothetical problem of a drought due to a country’s water supply being threatened by its source in a neighbouring country, an issue that loosely mirrored the River Nile dam dispute. This prompted me to look into the dam and the impacts of construction on Ethiopians, Egyptians and others, finding that it would aid the development of many by providing electricity. I saw how the final resolution may become more complex as it will be impacted by the European colonial past in Africa, China’s role in Africa, and the power of American allyship. The way that so many countries are affected and have played a part in this dispute has motivated me to look further into such issues, especially as I think disputes over natural resources will become more prevalent in the future.

I read more into this dispute and others around the world in Tim Marshall’s ‘Prisoners of Geography’, giving me an insight into why countries form certain global policies, from a point of view that emphasized the role of geography in the economy and in individuals' lives. The book argues that the decisions countries make and their ideology are framed by their geography. This can be seen in Russia's search for a warm water port leading to the annexation of Crimea and the influence on many of its global policies. The book is over-simplistic and from a Eurocentric view but highlighted many issues that I could look into further.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, I have seen how nations have cooperated and worked together to come up with a vaccine and also how different countries tackled the virus. I noticed how the vaccine was rolled out and saw which countries were hailed as the ‘best’ through the pandemic. Through this I could see how money and ally-ship are important in times of global struggle and this are an area I would love to explore more.

I often enjoy reading books and articles relating to what is going on around me and ‘The Education of an Idealist’ by Samantha Power, a former US UN Ambassador, is a great example, giving me insight into what a future in foreign policy could be like. The book follows her life, from her Irish childhood to becoming a key voice in the UN and developing into the face of liberal interventionism at a crucial point in the 21st century. I could empathise with her position towards the inaction in Syria and the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons. I am not convinced that military action short of a total invasion could put an end to bloodshed, but I think that Power makes you at least consider her side. She repeats that the USA will always be a force for good on the international stage, saying that “on issue after issue, either the United States brought a game plan to the table, or the problem worsened.” Though this has some credit, it is not a rule, especially considering their reluctance to take steps to improve climate change and action in the Middle East. Through this book I have seen the effects of US action abroad and wish to explore more on this.

In my free time, I play hockey and have represented my district. As the goalkeeper I have to constantly communicate with my teammates to succeed. I also love music, playing double bass in the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland. Through this I have been able to express myself and relieve stress while collaborating with others.

My motivation to learn about the world around me extends beyond academic curiosity, as I wish to absorb myself in a new way of thinking. I look forward to the opportunities and challenges ahead.

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Author's Comments

I am applying to
- Cambridge
- St Andrew's
- Edinburgh
- Strathcylde
- Stirling

Need advice on how to balance analysis with my own interest


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