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Policy Simulation Residency: Spring 2017

By |March 24th, 2017|APSIA Member Blog Posts|

Capstone residencies are essential components of the Global Policy Program. These intense, multi-day exercises take students outside the standard classroom and challenge them to apply lessons learned from their coursework.

During this month's three-day simulation, GPP students worked in teams representing major states to negotiate a resolution meant to address a crisis in a fictitious country plagued by famine and civil war. After 15 hours of countless meetings in both formal and informal sessions, an agreement was reached—at 12:30 am.

View more pictures of the simulation (and past simulations) here.


The GPP is designed as an executive program, and all applicants must have a minimum of seven years of work experience after completion of an accredited undergraduate degree. For more information on the Global Public Policy program, please visit our website, attend an MIPP/GPP Information Session, and ask us about our Saturday open office hours.

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Interview with MAIS Student Christian Flores

By |March 23rd, 2017|APSIA Member Blog Posts|

Christian Flores is a first year HNC Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS) student from Queens, New York. Christian desires to work in the Foreign Service and obtain a PhD. He is involved in HNC’s Book Club and Hit Workout group on campus. He also started the bilingual Multicultural Interest Group, which explores the student diversity of HNC. Previous events have included Chinese oral histories, led by two Chinese professors, and a discussion on the movie Moonlight. Read below for Christian’s journey to HNC, advice on the MAIS thesis process and advice on preparing for studying at the HNC.

How has your background influenced your study at the HNC?
I was born in Ecuador and immigrated to the United States at a very young age. I grew up in a bilingual household where we used both Spanish and English mainly because my father spoke limited English. My parents encouraged me to pursue programs in school that were bilingual, especially Spanish programs. This encouragement eventually led me to study Chinese in high school and then partake in the Chinese Flagship Program during undergrad. The Flagship program is a U.S. government sponsored language program that aims to make students fluent in Chinese after four years. When I started studying Chinese, I saw a lot of cultural similarities between Ecuador and China. Emphasis on family and children taking care of their parents as they get older were aspects of Chinese culture that I could relate to the Ecuadorian part of my culture. This lens on viewing China still impacts me today.

Why did you choose the HNC?
Throughout my undergraduate experiences in China, I gained a passion for Chinese language and society. When I graduated from college, I began to think of programs that would meet these interests. During Flagship, HNC representatives often came to talk to students about the graduate programs they offered. Since HNC combined the skills and knowledge I needed for my career pursuit, I applied for the program. Meanwhile, I started working in the private sector as a translation project manager. I was a liaison between clients and translators, which meant that I checked English to Chinese and Spanish translations to make sure they were impeccable before they were sent back to clients. This kept up my interest in Chinese while I waited to hear back from HNC.

However, when I received my HNC acceptance, I didn’t make my decision until I received the Boren Fellowship. The Boren Fellowship is a U.S. government program that sponsors American students to study critical languages. After completing a Masters program, they require minimal years of service in the U.S. State Department. The combo package of HNC and the Boren Fellowship was enough to satisfy my career-oriented outlook. Both are helping me achieve my goals of becoming a Foreign Service Officer and obtaining a PhD.

HNC Students partake in Chinese Oral Histories led by Chinese professors during the Multicultural Interest Group earlier this week. Christian calls it a platform that showcases and celebrates the diversity within HNC through both Chinese and English.
How did you pick your MAIS thesis topic?  
I decided to base my thesis topics off of something I really liked. As an undergraduate, I studied International Political Economy (IPE), which is a very interesting realm within international relations. For the Boren fellowship, I wrote about the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) which is an international organization established by China in 2013. It’s new and the U.S. is unsure about the prospects of the organization in Asia. Since I took an IPE course during my first semester at HNC, my interest in the AIIB increased. After speaking with my advisor, I decided to write a thesis on the future of the AIIB by looking at the circumstances for success or failure. I will mostly focus on comparative research on China’s past experiences with foreign direct investment. This summer I have to do a lot of reading!

How did you choose your MA thesis advisor?
During the first semester, HNC encouraged us to begin thinking about choosing an advisor that taught in our target language. So I decided to explore and take a lot of courses. During my first semester, I took 6 classes, 3 courses in Chinese and 3 courses in English. The English courses were very writing intensive and interactive while the Chinese courses had two types. Traditional Chinese classes typically include the professor lecturing for an hour and a half in front of the classroom. He may or may not ask questions about the readings in class but requires students to understand the information. The other style for Chinese classrooms at HNC is more liberal with a lot more reading-based discussion and intensive sessions.

Fortunately, I took an IPE course instructed in Chinese and tried my best to do well and stay engaged in the coursework. At the end of the semester, the professor took our class out to dinner. After I discussed with him about IPE and the AIIB during dinner, I asked him to be my advisor right then and there.

What’s your advice for prospective HNC students?

Advice for Choosing an Advisor
The key begins with building a relationship. Start as early as possible and get to know the professor a little bit more. Go to office hours and talk to them to see if both of your research interests match up. Stop by other professor’s office hours to ask for advice and talk about interests as well. You could choose an advisor from a class you didn’t take. If you have an interest in your concentration, which you choose in your first semester, make sure you take courses in your concentration during that period.

Advice for Chinese Language Preparation
  • Take a language intensive course in the summer before HNC. It’s a productive way to spend your summer as opposed to doing an internship. You’ll have a lot of opportunity to take internships when you come to China. A language program helps you refresh vocabulary, learn new grammar and immerse yourself in Chinese culture again because it does take time to adjust. When you don’t use a language for a long time, there’s a gap in acclimating to the language environment. 
  • Talk to your current Chinese professors to get resources to help you study Chinese in the summer.
  •  Read Chinese newspapers. Go into Chinese databases for Chinese academic papers and try to read on topics that you’re interested in. These help you become familiar with grammar structure and common words. Start getting used to that level of reading in Chinese because it takes time.  
  • Refresh! Wherever your Chinese level is, it doesn’t hurt to refresh on what you already know.
All the best!

Written by Tarela Osuobeni, HNC Certificate ‘17 



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Next Week at Johns Hopkins SAIS

By |March 23rd, 2017|APSIA Member Blog Posts|

Did you know that Johns Hopkins SAIS hosts hundreds of events each year, many of which are free and open to the public? Offering a wide spectrum of viewpoints on current global issues, these events give students the opportunity to interact with thought leaders in various industries. While many of these events are exclusive to Johns Hopkins SAIS students and alumni, a number are free and open to the public. We invite you to join us for some of the events below.


October 19, 2016: Prime Minister of the Republic of Italy, His Excellency Matteo Renzi joined the Johns Hopkins SAIS community for a Conversation on Trans-Atlantic Relations, Global Security and the Future of the European Union.




Tuesday, March 28
The arrival of the Trump administration has raised a myriad of questions about the prospects for continued U.S. global development leadership. Amid a 28 percent proposed cut to U.S. international affairs spending, might USAID be consolidated into the State Department? After the elimination of Obama’s Global Climate Change Initiative, will his other marquee development initiatives on food security (Feed the Future) and energy (Power Africa) survive? Are there any areas in which there might be room for bipartisan cooperation on global development? RSVP here.
Wednesday, March 29
Mozambique is currently facing a severe economic crisis after news broke out last year that the government had not disclosed nearly $1.5 billion of debt, violating its IMF borrowing agreement as well as its own laws. Since the discovery of the hidden debt, the IMF has suspended its loan disbursements and a number of other donors, including UK, EU, and the World Bank, have also temporarily suspended support. The government is heading toward default as it is unable to deliver on its sovereign guarantee on the loans of the state-owned companies involved. RSVP here.
Thursday, March 30
Panelists will discuss the extent to which we can talk about a ‘resurgence and spread’ of populism, why are we seeing populism in some areas but not in others, and the risks to the private sector in this political climate. RSVP here.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Outer Space Treaty, the first major international treaty or convention in the domain of space law. On this occasion, Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) Steven M. Schneebaum International Law Society and SAIS International Law and Organizations Program will host a conference on space law. It will bring together academic and practical perspectives of the development of space law, and allow academics and practitioner in the front of the field to exchange their views. RSVP here.
Dr. Jessica Chen Weiss from Cornell University will speak on the China Forum. Please RSVP here.
If you are curious as to what an event as Johns Hopkins SAIS is like, we encourage you to review The Recap, a new blog designed to capture important events across our three campuses. Visit regularly for summaries, videos, and photos of our world-class events.

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A Career Trek To California

By |March 22nd, 2017|APSIA Member Blog Posts|

An integral part of the graduate school experience is participating in professional development opportunities. Across our three campuses, Johns Hopkins SAIS students participate in professional development courses, lunch discussions, and informational ...

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I Remember The Feeling…

By |March 17th, 2017|APSIA Member Blog Posts|

In today's student blog post, second-year MA student Ileana Valle reflects on her experience being admitted into Johns Hopkins SAIS.

As I look back two years ago, I remember the feeling of anxiety, excitement, and fear all wrapped up into one. For me it was March 13, 2015. I spent much of that day checking my email to see if I had received anything. For me, as I am sure is the case for most in this selection cycle, everything depended on that email. I think back now and feel extremely grateful to have been given the opportunity to attend Johns Hopkins SAIS.

Now that two years have transpired, so has my outlook on my academic and professional career. For one, I have learned to be more open-minded. When I first got accepted into SAIS I was steadfast on doing the International Development concentration, but I had been waitlisted for it and ultimately had to opt for my second option: Latin American Studies (LASP). This has undoubtedly been one of the best decisions I have made. This is mainly due to the LASP internship I did last summer in Medellín, Colombia that afforded me the experience of a lifetime. Not to mention the cohesiveness of the department that trickles down to its cohort.

Furthermore, studying at SAIS has also given me such a broad perspective, particularly, at the intersection of policy and economics. Not coming from an economics background, the compulsory economics component has not been free of challenges; however, the new set of skills that I have acquired has allowed me to see policy-making from a different angle and I feel properly equipped and a well-rounded professional that can make tangible contributions from the public to private sector.

Congratulations to the incoming 2017/2018 cohort! Whether you’re starting in Nanjing, Bologna, or Washington, DC; this is the beginning of an incredible journey.

Welcome to the SAIS community!

Ileana Valle (MA'17)

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Celebrating Diversity, Celebrating Nowruz

By |March 16th, 2017|APSIA Member Blog Posts|

In our increasingly globalized world, diversity and inclusion are integral to excellence. This is especially true for global academic institutions like Johns Hopkins SAIS, whose raison d'etre is to prepare the next generation of leaders to tackle criti...

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From New York to DC

By |March 15th, 2017|APSIA Member Blog Posts|

Hi everyone! My name is Daphne and I’m a first-year MA student here at SAIS. Originally from the suburbs of New York City, I came to DC for the first time for my undergraduate studies. At Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, I majored in International Politics and completed a certificate in International Development. After graduation, I returned to New York and spent five years working at the Open Society Foundations, a philanthropic organization founded by George Soros to promote human rights, good governance, and development around the world. That experience was invaluable and helped me concretize my career goals: I hope to work for a non-governmental advocacy organization, helping to shape policy at the intersection of human rights and development on behalf of those directly affected by it.

With that in mind, I came to SAIS and chose to concentrate in International Law & Organizations and minor in International Development. This gives me a better understanding of both the legal framework that will guide my future advocacy work and the organizations that will be key advocacy targets and partners. While I may resume working immediately after graduation, I do ultimately intend to pursue a PhD in the hopes of further exploring my field and boosting my credibility as a policy expert.

Outside of SAIS, I keep (extra!) busy by volunteering for two organizations, marathon training, and, now, working here in the Admissions Office! I look forward to sharing my experiences with you as I navigate this exciting program in this city that I love!

Thanks for reading!
Daphne, Student Blogger


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HNC Events: Personal Finance Lecture and a Conversation with Economics Professor Paul Armstrong-Taylor

By |March 15th, 2017|APSIA Member Blog Posts|

There are many events at the HNC intended to help prepare students for the realities of post-graduation life. Career Services events, counseling, workshops, and company visits are all designed to help students make a smooth transition when it comes time to leave the HNC. I attended one of these events this past week, a yearly lecture about managing personal finances given by Professor Armstrong-Taylor.

Many of the economics classes here at the Center are taught by Professor Armstrong-Taylor, including this semester’s introductory course “U.S.-China Comparative Economies”, which I am currently enrolled in. Known fondly as “P.A.T.” by most students, Professor Armstrong-Taylor brings energy and passion to economics and I am finding my first introduction to “the dismal science” to be anything but.

Tuesday’s Personal Finance lecture was packed with both students and faculty, eager to improve on their financial know-how. It covered a wide range of practical topics, such as managing debt, savings, and investments. Professor Armstrong-Taylor began by talking about debt, an issue of concern for most students today. A useful way of looking at paying off debt, as he explained, is as a form of “saving” that should be prioritized over all other savings, and in order of highest to lowest rates. One encouraging aspect of the discussion was a statistic indicating that graduates with a higher degree earn an annual income that is on average $20,000 greater than those without. In other words, education itself is a kind of investment, and one with sizeable returns.


Also covered in the lecture was a few basic rules of savings and investment, such as the importance of diversifying and rebalancing investments, avoiding over-trading, and minimizing fees and taxes related in inefficient, outdated modes of investing.  After the lecture had ended, Professor Armstrong-Taylor took the time to answer a few of my lingering questions.

In your lecture you underscored the importance of investing early to maximize returns from compounding interest. Roughly speaking, how much funds should be kept in liquid assets?

It is generally recommended to have enough to cover around three to six months of expenses, which also depends on how secure your income is. In terms of how much cash to hold, how many stocks to hold, and how many bonds to hold, it’s all just guidelines really and may vary depending on the particular person and how comfortable they are with risk. The determination of how many liquid assets to hold involves a trade-off, because liquid assets such as cash tend to earn low returns, so the more you have the lower your average investment return. On the other hand, the risk of having too few liquid assets is that if you have an emergency expenditure, you would be forced to sell illiquid assets and may not get a good price (i.e. a fire sale).

You also highlighted the advantages of new automated methods of investment such as ETFs and index funds, particularly over stock portfolio managers and hedge-fund managers that come with higher fees because you’re hiring someone to handle your investments for you. If these new methods are so effective, why do people still rely on more traditional, less cost-efficient methods of investment?

That’s a good question, and a lot of people think it doesn’t make sense, but actually it’s been changing quite recently. A lot of money is leaving these active-investment managers and going into passive investments, namely index funds and ETFs. Also, these new forms of investments have really only developed over the past five or ten years, and it takes time for things to transition over.

Is there a common mistake that you see students making in terms of mishandling their finances? Do you have any recommendations for how to avoid this mistake?

I think one thing is to get accustomed to saving and living within your means. There is a two-fold benefit to this. First of all, I talked about compounding returns so the earlier you save the bigger the benefits. Additionally, if you get used to living within a budget it also lowers your costs throughout your life. There’s a tendency for people’s expenditures to expand to meet their incomes, so it doesn’t matter how much money they have, they always feel like they need more. Probably most peoples’ problem is that they haven’t saved enough, so making a habit of paying down your debt and saving early is essentially the most important thing you can do. Which isn’t to say you shouldn’t spend any money, because with something like education you’re going to get a return on that. It’s important to just be conscious of what you’re spending your money on. A lot of people when they’re older look back at the happiest times of their life, and it’s often when they were a student. When you’re a student, you don’t really have any money. When you’re older, you have more money but it doesn’t necessarily make you any happier. I think people often spend money because they think it’s going to make a big difference in their life and often it doesn’t. The earlier that you realize that buying stuff doesn’t actually have a big long-term effect on your happiness then it sort of frees you from that consumer treadmill.

Thank you, Professor Armstrong-Taylor, for your time and guidance!


Written by Amanda Bogan, HNC Certificate '17  

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A Year Ago, I Was In Your Shoes

By |March 13th, 2017|APSIA Member Blog Posts|

CONGRATULATIONS! By now you should have received word that you’ve been admitted to SAIS. This is such an exciting time for you and I’m honored to be able to personally congratulate you on your acceptance. A year ago, I was in your shoes and logged into my applicant portal to find a “Congratulations! The Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) is pleased to offer you admission….” letter waiting for me. Although I was incredible excited to find out that I had been admitted, I was also very nervous since I realized that I had a very daunting task ahead of me.

Choosing the right school to go to is an extremely big decision since graduate school is a huge financial and time commitment and your next couple weeks will undoubtedly be filled with open houses, campus tours, and overall research on all of the different things each school you’ve been admitted to has to offer. During this time period, I implore you to list all of the things that you value in a graduate school and to explore the services that each school has to offer to ensure that your values line up with those services. If possible, arrange to spend a day on campus! Sit down in a class that you’re interested in and arrange to talk to current students! While doing online research on a school is great, you’ll often quickly be able to tell if a school is right for you just by stepping foot on its campus.

Congratulations once again and take time to let it soak in that you’ve been accepted into an amazing institution that has a lot to offer you both academically and professionally. I’m so excited for all of you and hope to be able to welcome you to SAIS in the fall!

Thanks for Reading,
Denise (MA'18), Student Blogger

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Congratulations to the 2017 Incoming Class!

By |March 10th, 2017|APSIA Member Blog Posts|

Congratulations to the entering Master’s students admitted to the SAIS D.C., SAIS Europe and Hopkins-Nanjing campuses! To access your admissions decision, log into your Apply Yourself account, or check your email for a direct link. Be sure to review your admitted student websites for next steps and opportunities to learn more.

Also, be on the look out for an invitation to our private Facebook group for newly admitted students. This group, which is exclusive to applicants who received an offer of admission, serves as a space for you to connect with current SAISers, admissions staff, and other admitted students. Within the next couple business days, we will send you an invitation. If you do not receive the invitation, please check your your spam/junk email and your additional email inboxes before emailing us to request an invitation.

Upcoming Decision notification dates
PhD - Wednesday, March 15
MIPP – Friday, March 17
GPP – Rolling out 8 weeks from the date of application completion

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