Category: SAIS Life

Smash for Coffee


Nanjing – “You know hips don’t lie!” exclaimed Christian Flores, a second-year MAIS student. He wasn’t referring to Shakira’s famous song “Hips Don’t Lie,” but Princess Peach’s ability to knock her opponents off the stage using her hips in Super Smash Brothers.

A group of Super Smash Brothers enthusiasts came together to participate in the first ever Smash Tournament at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center. With a 100 RMB gift card to the HNC coffee shop at stake, HNC smashers brought their A-game and used their favorite characters during the competition.

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Spectators and Players

Spectators livened up the competitive arena with fun comments such as “He plays like an economist!… Well, I mean, he did go to the University of Chicago!” and “That game between Wolf and Toon Link … is like Little Red Riding Hood, except that Riding Hood (Toon Link) has a sword and a shield!”

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Students Enjoying Super Smash Brothers

Andrew Rankin, a first-year MAIS student and tournament organizer, told the SAIS Observer that the Super Smash Brothers community is a representation of positivity that is everywhere at the HNC.

“The students come every now and then for a couple of hours, several times a week and play. It’s a good way to take a break from reading and studying. I also notice that students would then go back to studying afterward,” Andrew explained. “It gives you energy and fun. You can completely escape from studying and then go back to studying afterward.”

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Intense battle in session

After several hours of battling, first-year MAIS student Nathan Frit emerged victorious. The veteran Smasher described the tournament as “stressful” and “overwhelming.”

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Tournament Champion, Nathan Fritz

“I didn’t expect that I would win! I am not great when playing under pressure. But I like this game a lot,” said Nathan.

While Nathan took home the gift card, the participants were able to share the real prize, a fun time with good company.

All photos courtesy of Khun Nyan Min Htet.

Khun Nyan Min Htet is a staff writer at the Nanjing Bureau. He is a HNC Certificate/SAIS MA student currently completing his Certificate at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center before starting at SAIS DC this fall.

HNC Intramural Basketball Scouting Report


NANJING – Nanjing University’s Gulou Campus Basketball Tournament is about to begin as the Hopkins-Nanjing Center’s basketball team gears up for the coming fall season games. Here is a look at the HNC squad this season.

Player 1: The Sam Duo

It’s hard to tell this dynamic duo apart on the court given their short, average, white, male stature. They can both run a 3.3” 40-yard dash and they average a 37.3 inch vertical jump between the two of them. Unfortunately, their crippling addictions, Sam 1’s gambling and Sam 2’s staring at himself in the mirror for hours on end while whispering “who is the prettiest,” may end up hurting the team. Hopefully, they find help early enough to propel the team to victory this season.

Player 2: Luke

Averaging 12 points, nine rebounds and eight assists a game in college, Luke was planning on playing in the CBA after graduating. However, during a tryout for the Shanghai Bili Bili Sharks, he accidentally hit owner Yao Ming in the face with an errant pass. Luke is hoping to use this season to sharpen his basketball skills while maintaining his anonymity until his tryout with the Beijing Ducks next fall.

Player 3: Eli

While he may not have scored a point since college, Eli’s ability to trash talk, rattle, chirp and otherwise get into the opposing players’ heads is a quintessential element of success. However, his crippling alcoholism may lead to too many bench penalties this year. Last year, he was ejected from a record-setting eight games for throwing chairs at referees from the sidelines.

Player 4: Lin Feng

The shortest member of the team at 5’0”, Lin Feng’s short stature disguises his cheetah-like speed and agility. He can run a 3.0” 40-yard dash and has an equally impressive three-cone drill time. He can change direction faster than you can blink, frequently resulting in the broken ankles of his defenders.

Player 5: Dominic

Domination in the paint belongs to none other than Dominic. The 6’6” center averaged 8.3 points, 15 rebounds in college, and throws a mean elbow. Let’s just hope he doesn’t foul out in the first game.

Player 6: Joel

Joel had a career high of 46 points in the 80-56 win over Nanjing Law School last season. He is also the team’s top shot blocker. As the Center’s resident nihilist, he can be frequently seen reading Kierkegaard. We just hope he can be bothered to play this season. Unfortunately, he couldn’t be bothered to show up for a picture.

Player 7: Joy Joy

Hailing from the Big Blue Nation, guard Joy Joy averages 12 three-pointers per game. As impressive as his high-arc three-pointers are, his turnover ratios are just as high. He cites his generosity in giving others a shot at winning.

Player 8: Xing Jun Wei

Forward Xing Jun Wei is ecstatic about honing his giant Euro Step against the Nanjing Gulou teams this season. When interviewed for this piece, he said, “what do you mean you can’t take three steps?”

Player 9: JesusisLord

Center JesusisLord, the true lord under the net, is excited at the prospect of slam-dunking at any opportunity.  Having about as many triple doubles last season as Russell Westbrook, let’s just hope he can get some help from the rest of the squad.

Player 10: Ruan Chan

Ruan Chen, also known as Ronnie, is the co-captain of the team. With his cool head and quiet demeanor, Captain Ronnie hopes to utilize the team’s crazy dynamic and lead the squad to victory.

With their first game against a former rival, the Nanjing Physics Department Team, the HNC squad is ready to slam its way into the season.

All photos taken by Khun Nyan Htet

Eli Tirk is the managing editor for the Nanjing Bureau. He is a second year master’s student concentrating in international politics.

Khun Nyan Min Htet is a staff writer at the Nanjing Bureau. He is a HNC Certificate/SAIS M.A. student currently completing his Certificate at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center before starting at SAIS DC next fall.

The American and Chinese Leadership Transitions: Perspectives from Nanjing

HNC Students watch Xi Jinping’s Opening Remarks. Photo Credit: Brian Hart


NANJING – The Chinese Communist Party held the 19th Party Congress this month in Beijing. At the Party Congress, a new leadership was chosen. This leadership will set the path for China and guide the next five years. At the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, SAIS students gained an unique perspective on this major event. Significantly, the 2018 MAIS class experienced the leadership transitions of both China and the United States. Last year, students watched as the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election results rolled in, and this past week they had a front-row seat to the 19th Party Congress. However, reactions to these two events varied significantly at the Center.

Before the U.S. Presidential Election, the Center hosted several speakers and roundtable discussions about the candidates and the merits of American democracy. Students gathered in the auditorium, sometimes skipping morning classes, to watch the livestream of the Presidential debates. In the weeks leading up to the election, American students asked each other “have you mailed in your ballot yet?”

On the day of the election, students filled the student lounge as the election results were reported by county. With a predominantly liberal student body, the mood throughout the day shifted from that of excitement to despair, and Chinese students flowed in and out of the lounge to witness the spectacle. Chinese student Shi Zeyu reflected, “I was surprised by how heated the American students got during the election results. I saw so many students smoking that day.” With a twelve-hour time difference from the U.S. East coast, the students had plenty of daylight left after the election results to either drown their sorrows or celebrate their unanticipated victory.

Many students at the HNC are considering a career in government and were particularly engaged with the election. Kris Rodulfo commented, “Being abroad made me feel more detached from the election, but I was still invested since the results came as such a shock. I would like to work in the federal government and whoever is in office has a direct effect on my willingness to serve. Since Trump is in power, my plan is to wait it out until the next administration.”

The rest of the year was spent discussing one question – “What happened?” Guest speakers and club meetings addressed this topic throughout the spring semester. Just this month, another speaker came to campus to discuss the role of gender during the 2016 election.

In contrast, the lead-up to the 19th Party Congress was much less emotionally charged. Granted, the 19th Party Congress marks the start of Xi Jinping’s second term as Party Secretary, and leadership changes only affected the Standing Committee, a group of seven senior Party officials who guide policy. Nonetheless, changes at this Party Congress sets the stage for the 20th Party Congress, for which it is debated whether Xi Jinping will step down after serving two terms.

As the convention approached, Chinese website layouts were redesigned and red banners were strung up around Nanjing announcing the upcoming event. The student group-chat was dominated by the question “Is your VPN working?” as the government tightened internet controls. Classes such as Chinese Government and Politics turned their attention to the Party Congress, hosting lively debates about possible changes in the Politburo Standing Committee.

Outside of these classes, however, official discussion about the Party Congress was limited at the Center. American student Margie Tanner described the atmosphere at the Center as apathetic: “We all know what to expect with the Party Congress.” Chinese classmates conveyed a lack of sense of participation with the Party Congress since they had no direct influence on its outcome. Chinese youths have a phrase called “cha shui biao” (查水表), which literally translates to ‘reading the water meter.’ It refers to the way that things one says on the internet can be censored and possibly used against them in the future. There have been high-profile cases of people being punished for criticizing the Communist Party during private in-person conversations as well. With this atmosphere, there was not much public discussion about the Congress.

Despite these differences, witnessing both leadership transitions has initiated deeper engagement with U.S.-China relations among HNC students. American student Christian Flores shared, “Trump’s win signaled a withdrawal from the international stage for the country. I think that this kind of withdrawal changed the way I viewed China’s role in the international stage. I now believe that China should continue to push for multilateralism and engage the U.S. even more so than before.”

Caroline Yarber is a second-year M.A. candidate at the Nanjing campus as well as the Nanjing Bureau Chief. She is also concentrating in International Politics.

Alumni Continue Giving Back to the HNC by Transitioning to Staff

by: Caroline Yarber

NANJING–The Hopkins-Nanjing Center provides a unique opportunity for SAIS students. Not only do students receive an immersive perspective on US-China relations, but also become a part of a tight-knit community of likeminded people. A significant portion of the current staff are former students of the Center who wish to remain a lasting part of this community. We spoke with two young alumni of the Center to find out why they chose to start their careers at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center and what they have learned about the Center from the staff perspective.


Niu Xiaohu (left) and Lauren Syzmanski (right). Source: author

Lauren Szymanski and Niu Xiaohu both joined the HNC staff in 2012. Based in DC, Szymanski is the Deputy Director for the HNC Washington Office. She graduated from the HNC Certificate program in 2012 and joined the admissions side of the Center two weeks after graduation as an Admissions Coordinator. She was drawn to the position after speaking with another alumna working in recruiting. Lauren shares, “When I was graduating from the HNC I thought to myself that if I could just share my own experiences as a student with those considering the HNC for the first time, maybe it could make their application process a bit less stressful than mine!”

Niu Xiaohu is the Assistant to the Deputy Director for Academic Affairs at the Center in Nanjing. He completed the Certificate program in 2011 and graduated from Nanjing University with a Master’s in Acquired Linguistics the following year. Like Szymanski, Niu decided to join the HNC staff soon after graduating because of his strong connection with HNC community. Upon graduating, Niu realized he had no desire to work in a regulated office environment. Feeling at home at the HNC, Niu decided to continue giving back to the HNC family.


Szymanski with roommate Fan Xuejiao in 2012. Source: Lauren Syzmanski

Szymanski’s experience as a student has directly influenced her decisionmaking as a staff member. I am able to bring forward some of the challenges I personally faced as a student, and hopefully try to coordinate some ways to make those challenges less trying for new students. For example, when I was considering the HNC I remember hearing over and over about the dreaded learning curve, and even though eventually everyone overcomes it there didnt seem to be any steps I could take beforehand to try and lessen that adjustment period. However, Im happy to announce that starting this last year we have started including actual readings from HNC classes on our admitted student website so that new students can try to get a jump start on that learning curve. She aims to help “more students can really get a feel for what it’s like to study at the HNC” and uses her experiences as a student to reach this goal.

Similarly, Niu draws on his experience as a student to assist incoming students adjusting to the Center. He knows that the first two months at the Center are what he calls a “honeymoon period” in which students are excited to be in this new environment. The real trouble comes in the third month, according to Niu, when students can get tired and stressed. Niu’s advice to students currently experiencing this shift: “don’t worry; no one is perfect.” Szymanski imparts a similar reassuring message to students as we approach the end of the semester: “Just take a deep breath, and take every day one at a time!”


Niu (far left) with classmates in 2011. Source: Niu Xiaohu

Both alumni urge students to embrace their time at the Center. Niu emphasizes the importance of education as the key to one’s future. He encourages students to focus on what they are doing here and now at the Center and to not get distracted by prospective opportunities for after graduation. Szymanski also encourages students to take advantage of the resources at the Center, naming her biggest regret as not seeking out professors outside of class.

Niu and Szymanski share a passion for the exceptional environment offered at the HNC. As an international student, Szymanski emphasizes the importance of leaving the Center and embracing life in China. Niu recognizes the value to be gained within the Center, encouraging students to actively engage their Chinese or International counterparts in dialogue. “Our students come here because they want to know about the world, and [through this exchange] they can make a real difference.”

Looking ahead, Niu and Szymanski both aim to make a lasting difference at the HNC. Despite the geographical distance between Szymanski and the HNC, she stays engaged by reaching out to ever prospective student to ensure their transition to the HNC is a positive experience. Niu draws inspiration from former HNC Chinese Co-Director Huang Chengfeng. He describes the personal connection she had with each student and the lengths she went to in order to truly consider the needs of students. Due to her reputation among students as a great person and effective educator, the Huang Chengfeng scholarship fund was created in her honor. Niu admires her connection with students and aspires to live up to her example, hoping that after graduation students will remember him as someone who made a difference in their HNC experience.

Playing with Power


The United States, Russia, and China have entered a new era of “power grabs”. Smaller regional powers are emerging and flexing their muscles in anticipation of expansion like dogs impatiently waiting under the dinner table. North Korea, South Korea, the Philippines and Japan consider themselves among the contenders in Asia.

Dr. Victor Cha is an impressive figure and notable expert on Asia. He serves as   Professor of Government and International Affairs at Georgetown University, Korea Chair at CSIS and former Director for Asian Affairs on the National Security Council. Dr. Cha made an appearance at SAIS with his books in tow when the Sejong Society and the U.S.-Korea Institute hosted him on October 14, 2016.

Why did Asia never have its own form of NATO? Unlike Europe, Asia is a combination of large landmass and separate islands. During the Cold War, Europe’s bipolarity was clearly defined, even down to a dividing wall. Meanwhile, a third actor, China, further complicated the situation in Asia. Economic interdependence brought Europe closer together as a community but initially separated Asia. Dr. Cha focused his attention on Asia’s choice to not have a NATO equivalent, thus differentiating his book from those already on the table that merely regurgitate history.

The U.S. originally oriented itself towards Asia through trade interests and Christian missionary activities. Due to the growing threat of Communism in Asia, the U.S. executed a grand strategic policy of containment and intervened in countries like Korea and Vietnam. Much to China’s dismay, the U.S. is now imposing its interests on Asia and containing China. In reaction, China is making its own “power play” by creating the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and assertively pressing claim to the South China Sea using multilateral institutions and bilateral relations.

Compiling his concluding remarks, Dr. Cha predicted that Asia would not have one single community resembling a NATO or an EU. Instead, the architecture of Asia is a “noodle bowl” of institutions that are partially overlapping and parallel. Albeit a complex and messy state of international relations, Asia is replete with issues of unresolved history, territorial disputes, and security dilemmas. Regime theory suggests that an increasing number of institutions in Asia does not result in a zero-sum scenario. Rather, this complexity can play a positive role.

“Don’t expect Asia to look like Europe, because it won’t,” is the mantra to take up. The U.S., Russia, and China are in a counterbalancing act in Asia as each vies for power, and the rest of the countries in Asia are meddling with the entwined love-hate triangle.

Despite sharing a last name, Joniel Cha and Dr. Victor Cha are not related.

D.C. Live Election Blog


Follow along with SAIS D.C. to get all the latest thoughts, opinions, and commentary related to Election Night 2016!

November 8 @ 22:32 EST

The SAIS Election Event ends – but the election still goes on! #SAISElectionNight

November 8 @ 22:27 EST

Ohio announced to Trump. Groan audible.

November 8 @ 22:26 EST

DOW Futures fall below 600 in light of the current election results.

November 8 @ 21:13 EST

Asian markets plummet at the prospect of Trump presidency – Nikkei, Hong Kong take hit

November 8 @ 22:09 EST

Down Future down 500 points? Why yes, that’s real!


November 8 @ 22:07 EST

There is more yellow on the map than red/blue.

November 8 @ 22:05 EST

Electoral Count:

Trump – 134

Clinton – 104

Source: CNN

November 8 @ 22:04 EST

All we know is that we know nothing about the outcome!

November 8 @ 21:59 EST

¿Díme come te sientes? / Tell me how you feel?


November 8 @ 21:57 EST

Putin has not appeared on a ballot yet… #RussiaInvasion

November 8 @ 21:54 EST

Virginia called for Clinton? Crowd goes wild!

November 8 @ 21:52 EST

SAISers watch intently on the polling results come in! #SAISElectionParty


November 8 @ 21:49 EST

Stocks plunge on the news of the American election results #SAISElectionNight

November 8 @ 21: 47 EST

Races in multiple states: Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin – still too close to call.

November 8 @ 21:45 EST

CNN predicts that the Republicans will keep the House.

November 8 @ 21:44 EST

The election is still up in the air…

November 8 @ 21:41 EST

DOW Futures  off more than 400 points (2.2%) as Trump remains in the lead (in the race) – USA Today

November 8 @ 21:40 EST

Say Something Nice About the Other Candidate: “I think that people who run for any senior office have to believe on some fundamental level that they can have a positive influence in the country. In my opinion, it would not be worth the time, money, and energy spent unless he is truly trying to service some greater purpose, regardless if that purpose was achieved. It is important that Trump has been able to stand for and represent a significant population of Americans..” – Chris Jackson

November 8 @ 21:39 EST

Say Something Nice About the Other Candidate: “He doesn’t abuse hair products” – Andrea Alie

November 8 @ 21: 38 EST

Say Something Nice About the Other Candidate: “He has a great fake tan” – Denisa Pacholska

November 8 @ 21:36 EST

Need a little pick-me-up? Just remember, the doesn’t necessarily make the man (or the policy).


November 8 @ 21: 32 EST

The map is appearing is looking red right now. #SAISElectionNight

November 8 @ 21: 27 EST

Clinton wins Connecticut and the lead still remains for Trump.

November 8 @ 21: 25 EST

I’m disappointed that CNN hasn’t dropped some new tech like they did with the 2008 hologram… #SAISElectionNight

November 8 @ 21:23 EST

DOW Futures are down after the gains made on the eve of the elections – also peso has dropped modestly during Trump’s winning position.

November 8 @ 21: 21 EST

Still waiting for the outcomes of the pivotal swing states. The election will be determined by it.

November 8 @ 21:17 EST

Electoral Count:

Clinton: 97

Trump: 129

Source: CNN

November 8 @ 21:15 EST

The amount of boo’ing and cheering depending on the outcome for a start is unreal!

November 8 @ 21:09 EST

Trump leads, but Clinton still has the big states on her side! #Election2016

November 8 @ 21:07 EST

“I don’t have the emotional capacity to deal with after Brexit” – Adele Barzeulait, MA Student

November 8 @ 21:06 EST

Yaaas Queen! #Election2016


November 8 @ 21:04 EST

Even Khorey Baker, Director of Student Life, is thrilled with the turnout of the SAIS Election Night Watch Party! #Election2016


November 8 @ 21:02 EST

“Are you kidding me? Where else would you want to be when you already attend the most politically charged school in DC?” – Alex Sleisenger

November 8 @ 21:00 EST

CNN projects Hilary Clinton winner!

November 8 @ 21:00 EST

“Currently checking one-way kayak results back to Bologna!” – Madison Wilcox

November 8 @ 20:57 EST

“I was confident but now I’m honestly horrified after seeing Florida roll in.” – Leonidas

November 8 @ 20:55 EST

Sporting that “I voted” and “Yo voté” bling!


November 8 @ 20:54 EST

The pizza rush is RUHL!


November 8 @ 20:51 EST

“I am an international student and am really worried about the elections. The next President can influence my time here and the exchange rates.” -SAIS DC student from South Korea

November 8 @ 20:50 EST

On Florida: “Based on early voting I don’t think Clinton will win but Florida is always the least predictable state on election night” – Lee Sutton

November 8 @ 20:47 EST

Waiting for more results!

November 8 @ 20:40 EST

When the pizza runs out, there are always cookies. Cookie hour after all!


November 8 @ 20:38 EST

Watch party well underway!


November 8 @ 20:36 EST

“I love diversity and I love being in America during this historical time. I want Trump to win just to see some more excitement while I’m here.” -SAIS DC student from China

November 8 @ 20:34 EST

“Japan hopes Clinton will win because she is the more qualified candidate and proved herself as Secretary of State.” -SAIS DC MIPP student from Japan 

November 8 @ 20:31 EST

Alabama for Trump. Sweet home.

November 8 @ 20:26 EST

Pizza arrives. Crowd goes crazy!  #MakePizzaGreatAgain

November 8  @ 20:24 EST

Florida is still too close to call – changes between a Clinton lead and a Trump lead. Could it come down to Florida again like 2000?

November 8 @ 20:21 EST

Electoral Count:

Clinton – 68

Trump – 48

Source: CNN

November 8 @ 20:19 EST

Nitze is crowded! Lots of SAISers are excited/nervous about the outcome of the elections tonight!

November 8 @ 20:14 EST

Join us as we blog the presidential election! Stay with us for the next couple of hours for details and SAIS insight!

SAIS Europe Students Participate in ERE Trek in Vienna


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ERE students explore Müllverbrennungsanlage garbage incineration plant on the outskirts of Vienna, Austria (Photo Credit: Jehangeer Ali Syed)


It is one thing to mix pleasure with business, but as earnest as SAIS students are, those at SAIS Europe managed to prioritize business with leisure. On a weekend excursion to Vienna, Austria, for the International Atomic Energy Agency Staff Association Ball, the SAIS Energy, Resources and Environment Club, the Student Government Association and students reached out to alumni and organizations working in the energy sector in Vienna.

Though the overall trip to Vienna included more than 150 students who traveled to Vienna strictly for the ball, 11 students arrived a day early, on Friday. The daytrip was open to all SAIS students, but ERE concentrators ­— who were partially sponsored by ERE Club mini-grants — made up the bulk of the group. The trip, organized by ERE students Max Stadler and Kate Strickland, brought together students from varied backgrounds, and served as a stimulating learning experience for the group.

The mini- “Career Trek” proved a unique opportunity for SAIS students to learn more about renewable energy, municipal utilities, oil companies and the energy consulting industry. By tapping into the SAIS alumni network in Vienna, Stadler and Strickland found that the organizations generously opened their doors to students and were forthcoming regarding their work in the energy sector.

The day started early at 8:00AM on the outskirts of Vienna at the Müllverbrennungsanlage (MVA) garbage incineration plant. This state-of-the-art facility collects 250,000 tons of garbage from households annually and burns it at more than 1,200°C to produce electricity for approximately 50,000 Viennese households. The entire process challenges the adage of garbage in-garbage out; rather it takes garbage in and optimizes its potential by turning it into fuel. This facility is not only an example of a renewable energy power plant, but stands out as a model of social responsibility of the people of Vienna, where they were fully involved in the decision to construct the facility.

The day progressed as students traveled next to Österreichischen Mineralölverwaltung Aktiengesellschaft (OMV). OMV began as a state-owned company in 1956 and developed into the most successful industrial corporation in Austria and an international flagship. The students were welcomed by SAIS Bologna graduate Veronika Bauer and were introduced to the company and its international strategy by Robert Stajic (Corporate Strategy), and Dr. Stefan Richter (Public Affairs). The presentation gave way to discussion on interesting topics including: company functions and business priorities, managing a sustainable upstream resource portfolio, and increasing competitiveness in the downstream oil and gas divisions. The discussion allowed students to gather insights on the company’s overall business strategy, while also increasing their understanding of how private firms operate in the energy sector.

Keeping up with Austrian efficiency, the lunch was a brief tryst with wiener schnitzel at a pop-up lunch bar before meeting with Vienna’s public utility company Wiener Stadtwerke. Students met with Isabella Kossina (Chief Sustainability Officer) and Bettina Klötzl (International Representative) to learn about its diversified portfolio that includes: urban planning, infrastructure, energy distribution, public transportation, and funeral services. Wiener Stadtwerke provides services as they joked, “from cradle to grave.” The company is proud to assist Vienna in consistently scoring the highest in the Mercer Quality of Living Survey in the world and serves as an exemplary model for sustainability to other cities.

The last meeting of the day brought students to JBC Energy. SAIS alumni Erwin Traxl (B ’12 / DC ’13) and Alexander Poegl (B ’06) gave students an overview of JBC’s consulting and research functions and led a question-and-answer session regarding the future of world oil and gas markets.

The trip to these organizations not only allowed SAIS Europe students to learn how to network in the historic city, but also to understand the ways in which it is evolving to meet the needs of the future. Speaking to students who participated in the trip, SAIS alumni pressed students to focus on their studies while at SAIS, but also to follow their interests and passions. Students interested in internships at any of the organizations are encouraged to visit their websites to learn about the deadlines as well as to tailor their CVs to the type of internship they apply for.

SAIS Europe Visits the Hague

SAIS Europe Hague Photo
SAIS Europe student participants at the International Criminal Court on Friday, April 1st (Photo Courtesy: Amber Antiuk)


On April 1, eight SAIS Europe students traveled to The Hague, Netherlands as part of a trip organized by Professor Tiffany Basciano in Washington, D.C., for students concentrating in International Law and Organizations. Often referred to as “the city of international peace and justice,” The Hague houses some of the world’s most prominent war crimes tribunals. This trip to the Netherlands gave students the opportunity to visit the United Nations, European Union and independent international organizations and meet the staff of several international criminal law institutions. As part of the visit, students attended meetings at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the International Criminal Court (ICC) and Eurojust. When asked to describe her takeaways from the opportunity, SAIS Europe student Kady Hammer stated, “The Hague trip solidified my passion for a career in international law. The trip was particularly insightful as we were exposed to professionals in the ICTY, the ICC, and Eurojust who further explained the role of international organizations in international law.”    

The ICTY, originally created in 1993 by the UN Security Council in the midst of continuing conflict in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, was the first international court of its kind since the World War II tribunals in Nuremberg and Tokyo. The first major investigation concerned the Prijedor region of Bosnia where attacks had been carried out against Bosnian Muslims and Croats in Serb-run detention camps. The ICTY later started investigating political and military leaders including Slobodan Milošević, former president of Serbia and of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Eventually, as the fighting subsided, the tribunal was able to carry out investigations at the alleged sites of violent events such as the genocide of Srebrenica in 1995. Since its inception, the Tribunal has completed proceedings on 151 trials.  

At the ICTY, the group met with a Court Support Services employee who worked directly with protected witnesses. In light of the recent decisions at the end of March regarding the cases of Radovan Karadžić, who was found guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity and the genocide of Srebrenica, and Vojislav Šešelj, who was acquitted, SAIS Europe students were able to ask questions about the implications of these verdicts on the field of international humanitarian law. The group discussion focused on the context of the ICTY’s future transition to the United Nation’s Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) that will exist to carry out measures during the lifespan of the remaining cases and sentences.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is an independent institution that tries cases against people who have been accused of committing crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, crimes of aggression, and, as of 2015, the destruction of cultural heritage. The tribunal, which exists as the international community’s permanent international court, was conceived in 1998 and has been operational since 2002, consisting of a jurisdiction in 124 states party to the Rome Statute. The ICC has conducted several investigations in countries including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Central African Republic, Sudan, Libya, Mali and Georgia. The group’s meeting at the ICC was with an employee of the Office of the Prosecutor who gave a presentation about the different ICC organs and discussed previous and ongoing cases. Although there was no live hearing, the group was able to enter the open session viewing area and see the courtroom.

The SAIS group also visited Eurojust, an institution created in 2002 by the European Council that works closely with other organizations such as Europol and Frontex, the European border security agency, and third-party states to combat organized crime, drug and human trafficking, terrorism, fraud and corruption. At Eurojust, the group met the Head of Communications and External Relations who talked about Eurojust’s increasing relevance in Europe, key cases since its inception, and the future of the organization including negotiations to become an organization of the European Commission. After the visit, SAIS Europe student Fabio Iannuzzelli said, “As an International Law concentrator interested in the relationship between good governance and human rights protection, the visit to Eurojust during the Hague trip was an extraordinary opportunity to learn more about European cooperation and coordination mechanisms to fight against corruption and organized crime.”