One of the most important lessons that I received during my Global UGRAD experience back in 2016 was the importance of cross-cultural communication. Today, starting my Master of Global Affairs (MGA) program at the University of Notre Dame, I cannot underestimate this invaluable message.
The Keough School of Global Affairs, my new home for the next two years, is the first new school at the University of Notre Dame in a century. In its attempt to internationalize, the university is committed to attracting motivated students from all across the globe to join its Master of Global Affairs program. This professional degree program prepares its students to work on the world’s most pressing issues in international peace building, sustainable development, and other areas related to global affairs within a framework of effective and ethical leadership. Unlike many other public policy schools which primarily concentrate on economic development, the Keough School aligns its core mission with an integral human development approach, which calls for a more multidimensional prism. While academic rigor is an integral part of the program, it also provides a more practical hands-on experience during the summer between the first and second years. Thus, this summer the students were able to travel to countries like Bangladesh, Chile, Greece, etc. to work with partner organizations on real-world issues ranging from climate change to the ongoing refugee crisis.
Besides all of these amazing experiences, the school also provides diverse merit fellowships. Thus, I was able to receive the Donald & Marilyn Keough Fellowship, which covers all of my academic and living expenses for the duration of the program.
What makes the program really special, however, is its diverse body of students. Our class is comprised of 34 students from 18 countries, which, in a way, simulates the environment of global policy making. The diversity comes not only in the number of cultures represented but also in the variety of our professional backgrounds and interests. Although I graduated only in May, a lot of my peers have years of professional experience in various fields. In these two years, I hope to learn a lot not only inside my classrooms, but more importantly, by interacting with my classmates. I believe that my Global UGRAD experience serves as a powerful tool that will allow me to harness the benefit of this learning environment as best as I can.
P.S. Ironically, I met Patrick Calderon here, who used to work at the World Learning and now is a second year MGA student at Keough. It really is a small world in which we live!
Written by Raushan Zhandayeva, 2016-17 Global UGRAD student from Kazakhstan, California State University-Bakersfield