Opinion

The Hidden Gem

Last Thursday, October 20 during club hours I had attended the IS Club’s meeting to watch my friend Natalia Saavedra’s presentation.  She was presenting an opportunity for City College Students to act as Youth representatives for NGOs to the United Nations.  In explaining why she wanted to get City College involved, she stated: “I really want the students of our program (International Studies) to be involved in this.  I see SO MUCH potential in this program and it’s like a hidden gem!”  I heard what she said and thought to myself: she is correct.

The City College of New York International Studies Program is not just an academic program/major.  It is also a welcoming community of motivated and open-minded individuals who genuinely want to make a difference in the local, national, and international community.  Every time I enter the International Affairs Room NAC 6/293, I always get the opportunity to interact with fellow students of our major.  With every person you interact with in that room, you gain something new through each conversation.  Every individual of our major has a significant background or experience.  It can be their nationality and diverse perspectives towards current events, travelling experiences, meeting public figures, or even attending interesting conferences/events.

I have always bragged about CCNY-IS by first mentioning the support provided by the faculty members of the program.  Last year, I would’ve mentioned Dr. Fernando, the “mother hen” of City College International Studies Program as Professor Silverstein (Psychology) mentioned.  This year I say Dr. Biles.  Both are distinctly different individuals with differentiating styles of approaching the Director position, but I can personally guarantee that they are supportive of students in various endeavors such as academics, scholarships, career opportunities etc.

Our IS Email Listserv also enhances communication within the Department and it has helped expose me and my peers to opportunities of internships, workshops, seminars, events etc. In the spring 2010 semester, I interned for the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office.  It was a great learning experience.  It also helped me understand that Law School and a career in law might not be the right path for me.  I was able to gain this experience because of the emails I received from the IS List Serv.

Another positive experience I gained was thanks to one of my friend Joao Hwang’s many listserv emails.  It was an email about an Asia Society Event regarding India and China’s Emerging Markets.  I had attended the event and met a lot of people who work in banks, think tanks, Asia Society etc.  This event helped me network.  (I will get more into my experiences in this event and in the Brooklyn DA’s office in separate blog posts.)  I had the opportunity to attend this event because Joao Hwang, an alumni; took time out of his life to make sure that we know about these events and emailed us.

If you know me personally, you definitely know this: I am an ardent advocate for our Model United Nations program.  I had participated in the MUN class last semester (Spring 2010) and attended nationals.  We represented Singapore as a City College team in a hotel conference in Midtown Manhattan with over 260 college teams from around the world!  Model UN put me in the role of a diplomat; taught me how to research and advocate policies; assume leadership responsibilities; interact with other “member states;” AND created many new friendships in my life, specifically within the CCNY team.  We spent five days under intensive stress, starving, tired, and we all became really close from it.  To this day, I still seek out my former MUN delegates in college to hang out.  If you haven’t participated in Model UN yet, register for it this spring!  It’s one of the great things CCNY-IS has to offer.

That was the MUN effect on a personal level.  Going to a broader look: we were provided with free housing, stipends for pocket-money, and TWO lunches by CCNY!  This Credit goes to Dr. Fernando for working hard to find the proper funds.  CCNY MUN also has a history of winning Distinguished and Outstanding Delegation awards almost every year.  If you participate in Model UN in the future, keep in mind that you are representing a college with a legacy in Model UN.  Don’t let this intimidate you because CCNY MUN has an extraordinary faculty.  Our faculty consists of a teacher, assistant teacher, and two head delegates who serve as advisers.

Our college also has the Diplomat In Residence’s office!  This is the Diplomat in Residence for colleges in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania.  This is by far one of our greatest resources to those of you who are interested in careers in diplomacy, State Department, etc.  The Diplomat in Residence Tom Armbruster is very accessible and is willing to help students find careers and internships in the State Department!  His office is literally three doors away from CCNY-IS office.  We are fortunate to have this as one of the helpful resources for our students

There are so many more strengths CCNY-IS has that I am not mentioning!  If you have anything cool to share, feel free to comment on this post! :)

Going back to the main point about Natalia Saavedra’s remark: “I see SO MUCH potential in this program and it’s like a hidden gem!”

Wouldn’t you agree? :)

- Tahsin Chowdhury

“The City College International Studies Program connects students from around the world.  I have seen students from different backgrounds, sometimes even conflicting; form a friendship in our program!”

-          Doctor Fernando in her Farewell Event Speech

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11 thoughts on “The Hidden Gem

  1. SUPER perspective – THANK YOU, Chowdhury!

    As a 1996 graduate (approximately the same year Internet became a reality), I can attest to seeing the fantastic global public service opportunities that abound from our rarefied (and now digitally/globally inter-connected) CCNY-IS department!

    For us alums (and for future IS majors, too) we owe the legacy of our globally cosmopolitan academic platform – represented by the CCNY-IS Department – to Professor Marina Fernando (whom some us still call our ‘Queen Bee – QB’)! It is now up to us… to collectively keep this and even more… great opportunities alive!

    We are educated (thankfully) and globally compassionate individuals! Furthermore, as my fellow CCNY-IS alum Nibaldo Aguilera wisely once said to me: “Education is a right, and also a responsibility!!”

    May I humbly suggest that in order to be increasingly amazing as a group, our active participation in media such as this is required! So pls keep this progressive Blog alive, Chowdhury, and aspire towards any other global electronic forums, dear CCNY-ISers.

    Indeed, tremendous human resources have and can continue to abound from the CCNY-IS programme! Hopefully we can continue to keep our collective attentions connected to the interests, resources and needs of each other!

    And here’s to your continued successes, Dr. Biles!

    Sincerely,
    Jon A. Weiss
    CCNY-IS Alum ’96

    • Mr. Weiss,

      Thank you for your pleasant comment! It is always delightful to see that we are supported by our faculty, peers, and alumni. I wrote this article because many of my friends who lack awareness about our program suggests I transfer to another college with a “better program.” That made me realize that our program is under rated! Then when Natalia Saavedra called it a Hidden Gem, I thought “There’s the perfect term for it.”

      Going back to the program, it is a great program with great students and faculty. I only hope that both students of our program realize this!

      – Tahsin

      • Indeed, unlike any other programme on Earth!
        And glad to hear – yes, pls keep engaged!!
        Keep well!
        -jw

        PS. Anyone concentrating on on global climate affairs? Feel free to send direct message @ jonaweiss2000@yahoo.com . Started a non-profit org based in Minneapolis called Lake Climate Group. Q’s/comments/collaborations welcome.

        PPS. Does CCNY-IS have a TWITTER account? An amazing digital platform for quickly advancing global/local strategy!

        PPPS. Cheers!

    • Thank you for such a great response! I agree with you that Tahsin, myself, Tehmina, and as many people as possible need to continue to make this blog relevant and a source of pride and inspiration for everyone in the IS community.

      As a club, we are in a transition period, where we are going from behind the scenes to the front lines. As Tahsin said, not many people know about the major, let alone the club/community. On behalf of myself, the other executives, and active club members, we thank anyone who has taken the time to support SAIS as well as this website. We’re all still learning an growing as students, leaders, writers, and as a program to make our presence known in the greater CCNY community.

      In the end, the main goal is to bring this “hidden gem” to the spotlight where it should have been all along.

  2. Thanks for the link and nice article! I found it hard to find good info about CCNY-IS program online except for the schools program alumni. I also heard a few people say City College is not as good as other CUNY schools but this program looks good and the school looks good too. I want to apply this winter for the fall semester. The students leave the school with a lot of experience (schoolwork, internships, study abroad, etc) and it seems a lot of them attain good careers or go to top tier status grad schools afterwards (like Columbia, which this schools seems to prepare them for). I wish this article was more public!

    • Thanks for reading the article. Just thought you should know this entire blog is for the IS program of CCNY! We recently started this blog.

      • It’s good they’res a blog about the program. It gives a better insight about it and informs more. I put this on my favorites blog so I can check up on it, thanks again for the blog link! I was Sarah from FB asking about the IS programs on Monday.

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