Emmanuel Davalillo Hidalgo, Global UGRAD 2013-2014, Venezuela
After heading back home and finishing my degree in Political Science at the Universidad del Zulia in western Venezuela, I faced that burning question so many of us recent graduates face: “Well… Now what?”
Only one thing seemed certain: I was not done learning.
I first discovered the field of peace and conflict studies during my experience at the American University School of International Service (AU/SIS). Through the Global UGRAD program, I was able to take courses addressing the capacity of mankind to engage in organized violence, the mechanics of protecting civilians in active conflict zones, and more importantly: how to prevent violence by building avenues toward a sustainable transformation of disputes?
As some of us know by personal experience, elections are political events that have an inherent potential for hostilities between a government and its opposition. My last three election monitoring assignments to Haiti with the Organization of American States (2015-2016) have taught me how the international community can mitigate tensions and foster an atmosphere of civil tolerance for the sake of the country and its people.
Having realized the very real dangers Venezuela faces in this domestic sphere, I decided to further specialize in preventing electoral violence. Once again, AU/SIS opened its doors to me and I’m thrilled to be back in pursuit of a master’s degree in International Peace and Conflict Resolution. By acquiring expertise in the field and refining it through academia, my end goal is to further expand and develop the skill set I need to help Venezuela move away from the brink of violence.
In truth, Global UGRAD is not just a life-changing experience for us all: it’s a life-long commitment to the service of our home countries and our sister nations.