At the time that I was in the Asian Studies Program at Georgetown I went by my maiden name of Sarah Batiuk. I was part of the first MASIA class, graduating in May 2014. While I was in the MASIA program I interned on the China desk at the State Department, the Commerce Department, and the Center for the National Interest. Following graduation, I interned at the East-West Center in Washington, which turned into a full-time position as a Project Assistant and Event Coordinator.
1. Please tell us about yourself. What led to your interests in Asian studies?
I was a student ambassador through the People to People program in high school, traveling to Australia (2005) and Japan (2007). While at the University of Delaware I majored in International Relations with concentrations in Asia and Diplomacy. I was able to study abroad while at UD in 2011 at Beijing Normal University during the winter break. I knew that I wanted to go to graduate school in DC to further my knowledge of Asia on a more specific level. When I heard that Georgetown was opening a new graduate degree program in Asian Studies I thought that would be the perfect place for me.
2. How did the Asian Studies Program at Georgetown University prepare you for the challenges and opportunities you face today?
Being surrounded by my fellow MASIA classmates and knowledgeable professors helped me build up my courage when it came to articulating my arguments behind position points. Moreover, I was able to further develop my research skills to thoroughly back up those arguments with facts. The program also helped me become more adaptable because at the time my cohort was growing right along with the program in its early stages.
3. What specific skills and knowledge did you gain from Asian Studies courses at Georgetown?
In addition to the research skills and public speaking help (which was very helpful for a shy person like myself!), I gained a more specific and balanced view of the Asia. The balance between Asia regional classes and the China-specific classes I enrolled in made me feel more knowledgeable about Asia.
4. What advice would you give to prospective/current students in the Asian Studies Program?
Feel free to go outside your comfort zone both in the classes you take in the MASIA program and the ones that are Asia-focused in other related programs. If I had not taken a chance on a public diplomacy class, I would not have discovered that my passion for teaching others about Asia and America’s relations could be defined as “public diplomacy,” which I could then apply to papers that I wrote for MASIA classes. Also, network! Your professors and classmates have such diverse backgrounds of experience, you never know who you might be able to interact with! It worked for me: my director at the East-West Center is a Georgetown alumnus.