Archive for Spring2016

Throwback Thursday to a Seeple’s Winter Break

[From January 2016]

This winter break held special significance to me, since it is the last while at SIPA – I graduate in May. It was also poignant as perhaps the last winter break when I feel like a student and a young person, with future “winter breaks” likely spent as an adult, likely wherever my career will send me, and with other potential added personal responsibilities. True to myself, I made sure to leave time for “work” and “play” (no “break” has ever been completely a break for me – I feel unproductive and quickly get frustrated if I sit idly by for too long, even in the most magnificent of sceneries), but uncharacteristically, this time, I “played” first and “worked” later.

My significant other surprised me with a wonderful Christmas escapade to Quebec City (see main photo), where we enjoyed an enchanted few days at Château Frontenac (we have a thing for castles – last time we stayed in one, it was in Tuscany’s beautiful Castello di Montegufoni) and took our time exploring the charming bistros hidden all about Vieux Quebec (I highly recommend “Bistro Sous-Le-Fort”, almost at the foot of the Funiculaire), as well as holiday markets and other attractions. I relished in the opportunity to converse in French on non-professional matters (since I get plenty of “professional talk” in my work at the UN), and also enjoyed knowing that, while in a very different world, I was only a few hours away from my beloved City. I first discovered Quebec in 2008, attending the World Youth Congress – it was my first stop on this continent, and I made my way to the US afterwards, to start college. It was therefore a nostalgic, almost full-circle return to the beginning of the 8 years I have now spent in the US, and marking the beginning of a soon-to-unfold next chapter in my life, where I expect my career to take me outside of the US.

[Photo courtesy of Adriana Popa | Vieux Quebec]

[Photo courtesy of Adriana Popa | Vieux Quebec]

[Photo courtesy of Adriana Popa | Me with toffee bears in the toffee shop in Quebec]

[Photo courtesy of Adriana Popa | Me with toffee bears in the toffee shop in Quebec]

In January, it was time for “work,” and I flew to Kansas to work in the presidential archives in Abilene with a group of fellow Columbia students as part of my European Institute research fellowship. My work on Cold War diplomacy and Radio Free Europe, while extremely rewarding, was also tiresome, and the very limited healthy options for food intensified the feeling that we missed New York. Kansas was, overall, an interesting experience, both academically, and socially, and we appreciated the generous opportunity awarded through this fellowship, one of Columbia’s many exciting programs. We will be going to Budapest next, and then to Stanford, through the same fellowship, so the next few months (before and right after graduation) are bound to be stimulating!

[Photo courtesy of Adriana Popa | Hard at work in the archives]

[Photo courtesy of Adriana Popa | Hard at work in the archives]

[Photo courtesy of Adriana Popa | European Institute fellows trying on cowboy hats]

[Photo courtesy of Adriana Popa | European Institute fellows trying on cowboy hats]

[Photo courtesy of Adriana Popa | European Institute fellows with Ike's statue on the grounds of the archives]

[Photo courtesy of Adriana Popa | European Institute fellows with Ike’s statue on the grounds of the archives]

Capstone Workshop: Promoting Supply Chain Sustainability For The Rio Olympic Games

August 5, 2016, marked the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. This is the first time that a country in South America has ever hosted the Olympic and Paralympic Games. In an effort to learn from the experiences of previous host cities, the Rio Olympics Committee has given strategic focus to the potential social, economic and environmental impact of the Olympics through the creation of the Sustainability, Accessibility and Legacy Team (SAL). During the spring 2016 semester, SAL worked with a team of students, Abir Joshi, Ariel Williams, Jennifer Arias, Jayant Narayan, Mitsushiro Hirai, Supharin Chatthaworn, Shiza Pasha, under the guidance of Professor Kevin Kelly in a SIPA Capstone workshop to assist with analyzing and benchmarking their sustainability efforts.

SAL has a unique opportunity to promote sustainability for the Olympic Games with visible impacts across the pillars of People, Planet and Prosperity. Over the course of the 2016 Olympics, SAL has identified 230 projects to create actionable items and results for promoting supply chain sustainability, as well as unique projects in education and sustainable tourism. These projects and experiences have helped create transferable assets, such as databases, manuals and frameworks, that can be adapted and utilized by entities across the public and private domains far beyond the Olympics.

The SIPA Capstone team worked with SAL to analyze the effectiveness of incorporating sustainability into the Olympic Games, which includes evaluating SAL’s supply chain procurement process, educational programs and tourism initiatives, and then provided recommendations on the strategic transfer plan to disseminate SAL’s sustainability practices for future use by key stakeholders. The Capstone project and work of the Sustainability, Accessibility and Legacy Team will have far reaching benefits not only within Brazil regarding sustainable supply chain practices but also, through the experience of analyzing supply chains from the sustainability lens, presents an exemplary benchmark for global sustainable practices for future dissemination.

Pictured: Rio Olympics Committee headquarters Capstone team meeting with Sabrina Porcher, the Manager of Sustainability and colleagues from the Education Legacy team.

Second-year student reflections

Columbia University’s campus-wide graduation exercises are today, and tomorrow our Class of 2016 Seeples will officially graduate at our own ceremony. Everyone at the Office of Admissions & Financial Aid are particularly sad to say goodbye to our PAs and Admissions Ambassadors, but we’re thrilled to know they will be going on to do some amazing things. So today, we dedicate this blog post to all of them, and want to reflect on everything they’ve already accomplished in the last two years alone.

Here’s a look at what three of our Seeples — two Admissions Ambassadors and one PA — have been up to over the last (roughly) 730 days.

Did anyone else shed a few tears? No…just me?

Congratulations to the winners of 2016 Public Policy Challenge Grant

SIPA seeks proposals from students for innovative projects that use digital technology and data to improve the global urban environment.

Affordable and clean energy access—opportunities for refugees to provide language services—reliable access to the Internet—these are the goals of the winners of this year’s Dean’s Public Policy Challenge Grant competition, announced by SIPA at the 2016 #StartupColumbia Festival on April 29.

The annual competition invites students to propose innovative projects and prototypes that use technology and/or data to solve important urban problems. The winning teams were allocated a total of $65,000 in prize money to support the implementation of their projects.

The first-place team, Azimuth Solar, aims to make clean energy affordable for low income off-grid consumers in West Africa. Its members are Nthabiseng Mosia MIA ’16, Eric Silverman MIA ’16, and Alexandre Tourre MPA ’16.

The second-place team, NaTakallam, is developing an online platform that pairs students learning Arabic with displaced Syrians who provide Arabic practice opportunities. Members are Aline Sara MIA ’14, Reza Rahnema MIA ’14, Niko Efstathiou MIA ’17, Aimee Wenyue Chen MIA ’16, and Sherif Kamal MPA ’15.

The third-place team, CIGONN, aims to develop an Internet device sharing system for students in developing countries. Members are Olivier Bennaim MPA ’16 and Columbia Engineering student Alexandre Zeitoun.

The current sequence—the third since the program was inaugurated in Spring 2014—began in September 2015, when 10 student teams were chosen as semifinalists from more than 30 applications. While participating groups must include at least one SIPA student, they are encouraged to blend students from different disciplines and schools at Columbia University.

Want to participate in your own Public Policy Challenge Grant? Confirm your seat in the Master of International Affairs program today!

Each semi-finalist team received seed funding and a wealth of programmatic support to aid in the development of their ideas. They met with a panel of industry advisors, participated in a series of boot camp-style seminars on topics such as financial planning, legal issues, and design thinking.

After three months of refining their project models and working with potential partners, funders, and users, semifinalist teams presented to competition judges in February 2016. Five finalist teams, selected by a committee of Columbia University faculty and technology entrepreneurs chaired by Dean Merit E. Janow, then received additional support funding and two more months to continue to develop their project or prototype.

The five finalists—which included Concourse Markets and Nansen in addition to the three winners—presented the final version of their ideas on April 28.

— Lindsay Fuller MPA ’16

Photos, clockwise from left: Azimuth Solar (from left, Tourre, Mosia, Silverman); NaTakallam (from left, Efstathiou, Sara, Kamal, Chen); Bennaim and Zeitoun of CIGONN flank Dean Janow. 


A look at SIPA Follies 2016

Every year, Seeples come together to poke fun at themselves, their professors and SIPA life in general. We call this event, “Follies,” which means “a lack of good sense or judgment; foolish behavior,” according to Merriam-Webster. Think of it as an episode of Saturday Night Light, but with a SIPA twist! On Saturday, SIPA hosted its umpteenth Follies, but it was the second year we held the event at the world-famous Apollo Theater, where some of the greatest talents have performed, including Ella Fitzgerald, Sammy Davis Jr., James Brown, Gladys Knight, Luther Vandross, and Michael Jackson. Today, the Apollo, presents concerts, performing arts, education, and community outreach programs, which makes it possible for our Seeples to perform on the same stage as some of their musical and comedic idols.

Unfortunately, photography is frowned upon at the Apollo. Nonetheless, I was able to snap a few photos (and videos) during the event. (Shh!) Don’t worry, I kept my flash off — as you can tell from the poor-looking stills below — so I wouldn’t disrupt the skits. While you might not understand all of the references, I hope you’ll still get a kick out of the images below. And who knows — maybe you’ll be writing your own skit in two years! Here’s a look at SIPA Follies 2016.


SIPA Follies 2016 made it on the Apollo sign!



SIPA students are required to enroll in a 0.5 credit professional development course. In this skit, they poke fun at the course and how our Career Services staff teaches Seeples about the value of a strong cover letter and resume…all to the likeness of an evangelical group that worships “the good book,” aka SIPA’s career book.



In this skit, students compete on the hit TV show ‘Hell’s Kitchen.’ The venue: SIPA’s very own Alice’s Cafe, on the sixth floor of IAB.



This one is a video parody to “Party Like a Rockstar” by hip-hop group Shop Boyz. SIPA’s version? “Party Like a Seeple.”



To recruit the next class of Seeples, “Dean Merit E. Janow” (far right) and her colleagues enlist the help of actor Nicolas Cage (far left). His solution? Create a whole new curriculum plan — including a course called “American Foreign Policy: Just Set Everything on Fire.” And of course, no new curriculum would be complete without a montage of his movie stills.



Despite the fact it’s 2016, some professors still require Seeples to submit their assignments as stapled hard copies. But when there aren’t any staples left, what’s a Seeple to do?!



Here we have our very own Affan Javed (right), who’s giving a presentation on his day at the UN. Before his presentation he accidentally “cloned” himself (Satbir Singh), so he and his clone are recounting his special visit, and the strange bathroom conversation he had with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.



Want to see more? There are segments of Follies where the students prerecorded parodies of famous songs or perform general skits. Here are a handful of those video from the past five years.

"The most global public policy school, where an international community of students and faculty address world challenges."

—Merit E. Janow, Dean, SIPA, Professor of Practice, International and Economic Law and International Affairs

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