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UST Students Get Global Insights at UN Summer Program
During summer 2011, University of St. Thomas students Washington Massaquoi and Rakel Berg successfully completed a highly competitive placement program with the United Nations Intensive Summer Study Program (UNISSP) through Seton Hall University. Massaquoi is a Master in Liberal Arts student concentrating in International Studies and Berg is a senior in International Development major.

The UNISSP attracts students from all walks of life and from across the globe to study and observe the world body’s mission, institutions, and processes. The UN works to preserve global peace and security, and to improve relations among all peoples.

Participants were given a backstage pass to the UN General Assembly, Security Council meetings, various committees, and representatives from various member states. Each day featured lectures from academic specialists, UN staff and member state representatives about the issues facing human security. These lectures, however, also included attention to the technical workings of international diplomacy and how ideas are (and sometimes are not) addressed with action.

An International Studies education at the University of St. Thomas helps students develop transferable skills that are highly valued in the real world. These skills include research, analysis, problem solving, writing, and knowledge of other cultures. Massaquoi said the experience re-confirmed the value he places in an international studies education.

“I feel that I have a much greater appreciation for the nuances of diplomacy and procedural process at the UN,” Massaquoi said. “My international studies education at UST not only develops and imparts knowledge, but also teaches how knowledge can be connected to action, and turned into practice.”

Participants had the unique opportunity to hear from many individuals whose roles offered unique perspectives, that when combined, gave the attendees an exclusive view of the UN.

“This allowed me to understand how the body functions, the number of parties involved in its operations and how encompassing the UN is,” Berg said “By the end of the program I truly understood the impact the UN can have on a variety of matters. The program helped to supplement my education and enhance my knowledge and understanding of the international community. Understanding the roles and functions of the UN is essential to any international studies major.”

Massaquoi said one of the most interesting observations he made during the program was a twist on a common perception of the UN.

“Rather than be disappointed that the UN doesn't achieve everything it sets out to do, I find it is actually pretty amazing that the UN manages to get as much accomplished as it does,” he said.

UST MLA student Washington Massaquoi (far right) in front of the United Nations in New York.

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