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Personal Statement Sample for the PHD in International Relations, Chinese African Applicant

I grew up in Africa and became aware, early in my life, of the very difficult conditions in which so many of the world’s population live. While still at school, I was the co-founder and treasurer of a club called ‘Hope in Their Hands’ which raised funds and arranged visits to an orphanage in D.R. Congo and this exposure to suffering and deprived children fired a passion for helping the disadvantaged. I saw the study of International Relations as providing a basis for playing my own small part in improving the world in terms of improving food and physical security, education and the encouragement of good governance.

My academic interests changed during the last two years of undergraduate study. One formative experience occurred during a high school trip to Kenya where I saw the bullet holes in the shopping mall that had been attacked by Al-Shabaab terrorists and I wondered about the people responsible and their motives for such slaughter.  My most recent internship involved work with orphanages in D. R. Congo. I engaged with children who were traumatized by events stemming from conflict. I was reminded of the impression that the thousands of bullet holes in the mall walls had made upon me. I understood that the most basic matter of physical security needs to be addressed first if any other aspect of living is to be genuinely and permanently improved and that the prevention of terrorism and civil and regional conflict is the basic condition on which almost everything else depends. I studied terrorism as a specific topic late in my undergraduate studies and have been very impressed by the lecturer in this field and her passion which I hope to replicate in my own studies and career.

My ultimate goal is to pursue a Ph.D. with a focus on terrorism and particularly on female terrorist activity. I hope, ultimately, to work in an expert capacity with the U.N. or the International Center for Counter-Terrorism. I see the program as providing insight which will provide the necessary foundation of knowledge and understanding to enable me to realize my future academic and career goals.

While my primary interest lies in international terrorism and particularly female involvement and support, I understand that I need a much wider understanding of global security before pursuing my special interests. I see the program as providing vital insights into the causes of conflict of all kinds and how they arise, interlink and how they have been, or may, be resolved and how security can be optimized for the majority while conflict rages or outrages occur. I am seeking as wide an understanding of conflict causes, resolution and security as possible within a highly challenging but supportive academic environment which is why I am applying to your Master’s program. I have researched various programs internationally. I conclude that your curriculum is ideal for my purpose, that your prestigious faculty and reputation is an assurance of the quality of teaching and support that will be available to me. I also look forward to working with peers as passionate about this subject as I am and in being part of a network of successful future academics and workers in this field. I am particularly interested in the work of XXXX and his work in the area of XXXX.

I am ethnically Chinese/Congolese. I have lived in China, Africa and the U.S. I am fully fluent in Mandarin and English and I have a reasonable ‘grasp’ of French and Swahili. I acquire new languages fairly easily and enjoy learning them. I intend to perfect my French and Swahili as time permits and possibly to add other languages to my repertoire. I have a life-long interest in, and love of, art. I find that art provides an excellent ‘key’ to understanding other cultures and is often a useful ‘meeting point’ between people of different cultures and backgrounds. It also helps me to be a ‘well-rounded’ person in that I have a passion outside of my studies.

I am a friendly and out-going person who gets along easily with others. I have happily studied, worked and socialized with people from many cultural, ethnic and social backgrounds. I enjoy learning about new cultures and sharing knowledge of my own. I am confident that my background, experiences and academic studies to date will enable me to ‘add value’ to the program.

I am interested in assisting in research to gain experience for the goal of pursuing a Ph.D. I am aware that useful research calls for special characteristics such as clarity of thought and in goal setting, determination, patience and the ability to think creatively and originally along with many others. I believe that I possess the necessary characteristics to pursue research in the future and I hope that it might be possible to develop them to some degree within the program.

I will admit that my academic results are less than ‘stellar’. My first two year’s GPA’s were around 2.7-2.9 because I was required to take mathematics and science courses that I found difficult. However, in my major subject, I did very well with the award of A’s for most of my work. I can assure the reader that I shall apply myself with exceptional diligence and enthusiasm to the program. I shall do so for my own benefit, that of my fellow students and the prestige of your institution. It is my firm intention to excel rather than merely to succeed in the program and in my career beyond.

Thank you for considering my application.

Degree sought, field, or place of origin!

Development Studies, International Relations, and Obstetrics

Great Accomplishments in International Relations

Optimists praise how technology changes our lives through enhanced communication: empowering individuals, raising awareness and spreading democracy across the world.

Pessimists stress the repercussions of technological advancements, like tottering digital security, and the rise of inequality—especially in countries exposed to progressive technologies.

In the areas of foreign policy and diplomacy, technology has brought about a tremendous amount of change—as Hillary Clinton once said during her tenure as Secretary of State, “Just as the internet has changed virtually every aspect of how people worldwide live, learn, consume and communicate, connection technologies are changing the strategic context for diplomacy in the 21st century”.

This article aims at presenting the most pressing challenges that stem from the relationship between technologies and foreign affairs. Accelerating transformation can be seen in three significant areas: securityinstitutions and participation.

Security: Geopolitics Online

The widely proclaimed shift from state-centric politics to non-governmental identities, described as “shadowy networks of individuals”, was first addressed openly by George Bush in his 2002 National Security Strategy as President of the USA.

It is true to some extent that traditional underlying influences of state power are no longer the dominant catalysts at play: the evolution of technology has empowered individuals and created new commanding media that’s capable of challenging existing national supremacy, while directing a new world order.

Although powerful-through-technology individuals play an important role, international relations are still mostly dependent on geographical variables and related interests.

In the Information Age, what is certain is that the ever-increasing amount of global data and online storage of valuable information will bring incommensurable and occasionally conflicting value systems into ever closer contact. The proximity of country and entity online systems is increasingly hazardous for some parties.

In this era of fast information transfer, along with the rapid development of new-generation technologies, international relations among states are in conflict more so than a decade ago.

However, states are much weaker and less capable of mitigating arising challenges in controlling security, popular discontent and cultural fragmentation, it seems.

The recent U.S.-China Summit on cybersecurity exposed all of the aforementioned problems, and tensions between these two countries have concerned recent cyberattacks, mainly against U.S. government computers.

Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping agreed that their governments refrain from online theft of intellectual property for commercial gain, but Obama emphasized that he might still impose sanctions if the Chinese continue to sponsor cyber-intrusions.

The Summit showed, however, that technology can bring concurring interests into constant confrontation without clear and sufficient evidence of particular guilt and responsibility.

It also presented how individuals like Edward Snowden—empowered by technology—can bring another dimension to state relations—the notorious whistleblower overshadowed evidence of the last U.S. cyber-espionage attack against China before the Summit and thus changed the negotiating position of the U.S. government.

Institutions: Redefining Actions by Institutions and Alliances

International organizations (IOs) and alliances like North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) benefit hugely from data-driven technologies, which enable them to deliver better service and exchange large volumes of information in real time.

One does wonder whether current IOs and alliances are prepared to tackle complex threats such as financial, development, online security and climate change challenges, though.

There is a growing concern that IOs founded after WWII, such as the United Nations (UN), International Monetary Fund, and NATO are out-of-date, stagnant and have ineffective decision-making processes to handle arising challenges. One cannot deal with today’s war-mongering neurotics with passive and verbose institutions.

Many IOs are increasingly losing their ability to govern and implement necessary measures to somehow control the unregulated realms that technology has created.

In her view, the UN needs reform, stressing the importance of new, more transparent working methods and claiming the need for permanent membership by African and Latin American countries: “How can we have a Security Council in 2015 that still reflects the geo-political architecture of 1945?” reflects Sushma Swaraj, the External Affairs Minister of India, in 2015.

This recent call for action is only one example of growing concern over the condition of the UN regarding the fact that real change will come sooner or later. 

Participation: Social Media and Online Platforms Drive Profound Change in Foreign Policies

Although many observers note how social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter change global connectivity, the reality is that new technologies do not necessarily create democratic evolution online. Three major obstacles have been identified: first of all, new technologies empower individuals but can breed clusters of extremism, abuse, xenophobia and violence expressed on a number of online media and channels—one recent example is the enormous number of fake and distorted images of refugees with mocking memes that have circulated online in response to the widely proclaimed action of welcoming refugees on Twitter (#welcomerefugees); secondly, authoritarians including countries and separate individualist entities benefit from technology—for instance, in Syria the internet is another weapon of war.

The control of connections and website content gives the government great power during the ongoing conflict—in fact, authoritarian governments are able to control technologies and use them to undermine social activism, thus gaining new forms of control and power. And thirdly, the ineffective implementation of technology can be both a harmful and costly endeavor—this was the case of in the U.S., where even supporters of so-called “Obamacare” described the platform as a faulty and extremely overpriced governmental tech launch. Indeed, governments and institutions often deal with poorly developed and protected platforms that cause more challenges than benefits. 

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Statements of Excellence in International Relations

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