Politics & International Relations Personal Statement
Fleeing the Ivorian civil war at the age of four introduced me to a harsh reality - the Mediterranean Sea is not the only separation between the West and the rest of the world. The political and economic legacy of colonialism in west Africa has been characterised by domestic conflict, dangerous power vacuums and a divide between the West and the African continent. Raised in a culturally diverse environment, I developed an interest in politics and in the way international relations bridges gaps between states and organisations.
To immerse myself in the field, I became registrar in my school's MUN. I was notably interested in the way states with divergent interests and agendas like the USA and Russia use smart power to meet realist aims while abiding to the terms of UNSC membership. A case study I found intriguing was the 2012 failed Syrian draft resolution, and subsequent failures of R2P humanitarian interventions. Upon further research, I noticed a trend between these failures and foreign state interest in the affected areas, with successes like Kenya and failures like Syria.
Discussing Somalia's poverty issues with Fiona Blyth at the British Embassy in New York allowed me to apply theories like Hegemonic Stability to current affairs and link global and domestic politics. I organised work experience with the UNDP in Cote d'Ivoire, where I contextualised my knowledge of social inequalities and global development by learning about policies like microfinance, which aims to empower women and thus boost development. This encouraged me to read Walter Rodney's 'How Europe Underdeveloped Africa'. His theory that African development is only possible through a radical break with the international capitalist system surprised me by opposing my view that solving underdevelopment is achieved by political and economic collusion to reduce conflict in a multipolar community. This sparked my enthusiasm for political economy, which I developed by attending a university lecture on the evolution of global inequalities by Milanovic. Through this I saw the way political governance and the growth of globalisation has led to smaller global inequality.
Inspired by Huntington's thesis explored in 'Clash of Civilizations' and the recent radicalisation rates in Belgium, I based my Extended Essay on whether Islamic radicalisation in Molenbeek is primarily a result of the socio-economic marginalisation of the Muslim community. The thesis emphasises the significance of identity in the emergence of conflict in the 21st century. Combined with Social Identity and Clausewitzian War theory, I carried out an investigation to compare the socio-economic disparity between Molenbeek and Woluwe, by calculating and comparing median income of declarations, substinence benefits and unemployment rates. After contacting state actors, my most interesting discovery was how responsible national governance is for the development of terrorism, as opposed to foreign extremism.
Tutoring pupils in French, Spanish and German I began to appreciate the importance of communication not only between states but also individuals. Members of the MUN secretariat and I thus organised workshops to teach pupils the importance of IGOs like the UN. In doing so, I developed my public speaking and showed leadership and collaborative skills. Moreover, joining my local Youth Council increased my awareness of the way collaboration is used to enact decisions. As a member I contributed to the drafting of campaigns related to the education of youths on social matters like mental health issues and politics. I'm also interested in design, particularly graphics, as shown by my participation in many competitions such as Design Ventura and GSKxMcLaren.
Through this degree I look forward to feeding my passion and progressing towards a career in foreign policy. In return, the university will receive a dynamic, enthusiastic and creative individual with a love for politics and international relations.
This personal statement was used to apply to different variations of similar courses, including Politics & International Relations, Politics & International Studies and Political Science & International Relations. The best advice I got given before writing it was to give it a logical order in order to demonstrate the steps you took to solidify your interest in the subject - hopefully you can see what I mean by this! Hope this helps!