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Masters Degree in International Relations, Africa

November 21, 2013

I am a 22-year-old Somali man who was born in Connecticut and raised in many different countries, the Ivory Coast, Cairo-Egypt, Rome-Italy, and Nairobi-Kenya, in addition to Somalia. My first language is English but I am also fluent in French and Somali. My Italian is rusty and my Arabic needs a lot of work. My short term goal is to give my all to your program. My long term goal is to everything that I can to help the Developing World, especially Africa. With my multinational experience, I feel that I am a strong candidate for a career in IR.

 My longstanding interest in IR motivated me to major in Political Science with a Concentration in IR as an undergraduate. I especially enjoy doing research in areas related to human rights and conflict resolution, particularly ethnic-based strife and subsequent secessionist conflicts. I completed a yearlong research thesis at The College of XXXX on this topic, dealing with the practice of recognition of states. I look forward to continuing this research and incorporating more case studies. I have long been interested in questions of statecraft as related to the nature of our international political system, state as a primary actor as related to international law. I spend a lot of time reading about human rights abuses that accompany violent secessions. Who dictates what makes a state? And what are the necessary conditions for successful recognition of statehood and peaceful nation-building?

 My long term goal is to work with a prominent international non-governmental organization, USAID, or the US State Department as a Foreign Service Officer. I have always been engaged in extra-curricular activities and volunteer work from high school through college. For example, I volunteered at an AIDS orphanage called XXXX House where I was in charge of helping the staff to clean, play with, and monitor the children. I have also had the opportunity to work for a prominent NGO, XXXX where I served as a Humanitarian Intern at their Nairobi Office. I conducted research, completed situational reports, and went on field assignments to remote areas in Somaliland (Somalia). These experiences cemented my decision to apply for graduate school in IR and pursue a career in international development and human rights.

 I have much more to offer than just drive and ambition. I am a highly compassionate and cosmopolitan African man who is very sensitive to different cultures and customs. As a global nomad and third culture kid, I have been exposed to a vast array of world-views that have cultivated my truly global, multilingual character and identity. I have lived in African and Third World poverty; it is in my heart. I am able to easily adapt to many different situations and new experiences, connecting with people from different backgrounds. I am a global citizen. Richmond American International University's Masters Program in International Relations is the ideal setting for my graduate education, providing me with a wide range of professional opportunities down the road, providing assistance to development programs and/or initiatives aimed at improving the livelihoods of people living in developing countries.

 I have been traveling my whole life and currently reside in Kenya with my family. I have spent long periods of time in East Africa, Europe, North America and the Middle-East and this background is the strongest part of my application to your program: my linguistic abilities, cross-cultural skills, tolerance, understanding, and multidimensional world-view.

 My decision to apply for this program is motivated first and foremost by my long-standing desire to pursue a career in international development. I believe that the Masters Program in International Relations at Richmond American International University in London would provide me with the ideal venue for attaining the necessary education and skills required of a professional in the non-profit and NGO sector at the same time that it also prepares me to become a civil servant: so that both options remain open. Both my academic and non-academic experiences have led me to undertake this next endeavor to reach my goals. To study at XXXX University would be a great opportunity in countless ways.

 At the College of XXXX, I was Co-founder and Public Relations Officer for UJAMAA, the African Students Association, Liaison Officer for NOOR, helped with our Model United Nations, and served as Co-Chair of the DREAM Program. I have learned from all the ups and downs of these experiences and become much wiser and more creative. My coursework, such as “International Political Economy,” “Social Movements,” “Nationalism and Interdependence,” and “Ethics from a Social Perspective,” to name just a few, have all provided me with key theoretical concepts that I was able to apply to current issues and real world observations. I studied various competing schools of thought and wrote challenging, critical essays, research projects and presentations. Furthermore, a liberal arts education was beneficial to me as it allowed me great freedom in selecting courses outside of my concentration that were highly relevant to the development of my career focus. For instance, taking courses in “Africana Studies,” “Religious Studies and Sociology” in addition to IR, have provided me with new perspectives, concepts, and approaches, oftentimes-overlapping with my central topics of interest.

 I have learned to think more critically and intuitively, knowing that my education did not end in the classroom—it began there. Outside of the classroom, our revival of the long- dormant African Students Association (UJAMAA), our reconstruction of the only faith-based, Muslim Students Association into a more welcoming new organization (NOOR), all helped me to develop new skills, such as advertizing, event coordination, panel discussions (e.g. Faculty Roundtable Discussion on the Political Violence in Kenya in 2007, from a student representative), and a lecture on the history and relationship between Somalia and Ethiopia at Orrville Public Library that was later featured in The Daily Record Newspaper). My Senior Independent Study Research Thesis, was entitled “Winners and Losers” An Analysis of Secession and The Recognition of Statehood: A Comparative Case Study of East Timor and Somaliland. This 180-page, yearlong research thesis, sought to address the implications of unrecognized states in an inter-state system, and the practice of granting recognition. I secured high profile interviews with government officials and prominent public figures in Somaliland, including the Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Planning, President of the University of Hargeisa, CEO of Edna Adan Hospital and Former Minister of Foreign Affairs Ms. Edna Adan, as well as Dr. Hussein Bulhan, professor, author, psychiatrist and activist for political conflict resolution.

 As a Humanitarian Assistant working closely with and reporting to the Humanitarian Coordinator at the Somalia/Somaliland Program Office in Nairobi, I performed a number of important assignments, such as a monthly Situational Report (SITREP) on all aspects of the Office’s activities, goals and accomplishments; thus, I touched base with nearly every professional in the office to gather information. Thus, I learned a great deal about nearly every aspect of Oxfam’s development and humanitarian activities. I conducted research and data collection during numerous field assignments all over Somalia: the effects of drought and extreme poverty first-hand. We also developed and implanted immediate solutions, such as digging a “borehole,” a man-made hole in the round that would catch rainfall to serve as drinking water for livestock.

 In short, I ask to be accepted to your program so that I can spend the next 60 to 80 years or so helping Africa to develop: learning, loving, sharing, always growing. I want to struggle to make this world one world, lifting up our most poor to lift up ourselves.

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