SIPA Life on a Friday

The following post was written by Andrea Bustard, a second year MIA student concentrating in Urban and Social Policy. Her involvement in the Southeast Asia Student Initiative, SIPA Students of Color and the Migration Working Group has proven to be an enriching experience while at SIPA.


SIPA offers a wealth of avenues to prepare students with the needed skills for their careers after graduation. Courses range from Cost Benefit Analysis to Policy and Practices of Humanitarian Assistance, and this doesn’t include the classes offered through other schools such as Columbia Business School or Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia. And with over 40 student organizations, you’re bound to find at least one that matches an interest. As a second year, while I’ve felt the courses have taught me skills, having an opportunity to get involved in student groups has given me a chance to work with like-minded professionals and expand my network.

Few classes meet on Fridays, so students often take advantage of the time to attend SIPA related events. Here’s a snapshot of my Friday:

8am Arrive at the Localizing Global Justice conference in the International Affairs Building and greet incoming presenters and help with check-in for registered guests as a board member of the Southeast Asian Student Initiative.

10am-4pm Hear from panelists at the conference about law and human rights issues in Southeast Asia. Highlights included the presentation “Keeping it Up and Keeping it Down – Broadcasting Rights at Thai Protests” by Benjamin Tausig.

4pm-530pm Attend a reception for the panelists from the conference. I especially enjoyed a poetry and cello performance by Professor McCargo’s wife.

6pm-9pm Network at the Alumni of Color Reception hosted by SIPA Students of Color attended by graduate students and alumni from various schools. The highlight was hearing from SIPA alum and candidate for Congress in New York, Vince Morgan, but the food catered from a nearby Côte d’Ivoire restaurant was a close second.

11pm-2am Support SIPA Pan-Africa Network by going to their African Diplomatic Forum fundraiser party at the Empire State Building. On the way back, we stopped at a pizza place outside the subway station before catching a train home. It was a great way to end the event-filled night.