Lunch Conversation

Each year we are lucky to have many current SIPA students volunteer their time to assist the Admissions Office in some way.  At the end of the year we thank many of them by taking them to lunch and yesterday I had the opportunity to engage in some conversation over a great seared tuna salad.  I thought I would share some of what was talked about.

I was first reminded of the great diversity of our student body.  For example, one student had served in the U.S. military for over ten years prior to coming to SIPA, one had worked for an NGO focused on development issues in Africa, another worked for a non-profit focused on international education, and another had served in the Peace Corps.  This was just on my side of the table.

One student highlighted the benefit of having such a diverse student body.  She said something along the lines of the following –

“My internship took place in a country I had never been to before.  The great thing about SIPA is that there were students from that country enrolled.  I emailed some of them, got together with them and asked for tips on how I could make a smooth transition into the culture.  Now that I will be graduating I know that I can use my fellow graduates and alumni network for the same purpose in the future.  Diversity is such a tremendous resource.”

Another student commented on what he hated about SIPA.  He said something along the lines of the following –

“I hate that I have to miss so many events.  There is always so much going that I cannot do.  For example there is great discussion taking place today on the impact the death of Osama Bin Laden is going to have but I cannot go because I have to write a final paper.  I swear that if I won the lottery I would just live a few blocks from SIPA and just spend all of my time going to events.”

I asked one student why she chose SIPA.  She had been accepted to many schools but here is basically what she had to say –

“New York!  I mean come on, everyone who is anyone comes to New York.  I was walking across campus last year and saw Bill Gates walking with Warren Buffet – how crazy is that?  I just could not turn down the chance to live and study in New York.  On campus or in the city you can basically interact with every culture on the planet.”

Another conversation revolved around the ability to receive an informal education on the religions of the world.  A few students talked about how they got into conversations with students that practiced religions they did not know much about.  They said it was wonderful to learn about different religious traditions in a conversational and social environment where there was not pressure on a particular issues, but rather just friendly conversation about why certain practices and observances are important.

Social occasions like this with students remind me of how fortunate I am to work with in such a rich environment.  New students, you have a lot to look forward to and I am envious of the experience you are going to have.