Caroline Schaefer is the 2018-2019 Fellow for the World Affairs Council of CT. She is from Avon, CT and recently graduated from Colgate University, where she studied international relations and Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies.
- When and why did you first show interest in global affairs?
Many people ask me what initially sparked my interest in learning about global affairs and specifically, the Middle East. My interest in both of these topics actually stemmed from my desire to learn Arabic. Once I began taking Arabic classes at Colgate, Middle Eastern studies quickly followed and shortly after, so did international relations. Listening to my professors’ personal stories in the field and learning about how history affects current situations is what solidified my interest in global affairs.
2. Do you have a particular area of interest within global affairs?
I am particularly interested in the Middle East/North Africa region and non-state actors in these regions. The complex history of Middle Eastern countries as well as the seemingly never-ending surprises that the region holds are things I enjoy learning more about. Specifically, I find the political landscape that precipitates the rise of non-state actors and how such groups use media to hasten their popularity to be fascinating. As a result, I wrote my senior thesis on the Islamic State and the successes and faults of its media strategy.
3. What do you do at CTWAC?
I am the Fellow for the upcoming year at CTWAC. My responsibilities include managing the council’s records and assisting with program planning. I also have some marketing experience, so I will be working on social media initiatives, PR efforts and other marketing projects at CTWAC.
4. What do you do in your free time?
Since I am from around the area, my free time is spent primarily hanging out with friends, exercising, and painting. I was given the opportunity to coach field hockey at my old high school, which is a great way for me to stay involved in the sport since I finished my last season at Colgate. I also love to read, though I’ll admit that I am addicted to historical fiction and read little else (my current favorite is the Outlander series!).
5. Why do you think that global engagement is important?
While at college I realized that many of my friends who were not directly involved or interested in “international relations” did not have any idea of what happened in the world and why. However, in such a connected world we cannot simply ignore the events happening in other countries every day. Global engagement allows us to learn more about other people and cultures, which can provoke more informed decision-making and inspire others to take action on a topic that they are passionate about.
6. Do you have any tips on how to get involved in global affairs?
There are so many ways to stay informed about global news that are not time consuming (since a lack of time is the most commonly used excuse!). Whether its reading summaries from different news sources or signing up for daily news updates like The Skimm, just a little bit of effort a day will make a big difference. And make sure to follow up on headlines that intrigue you!