My passion for international relations is, as I reflect upon it, both profoundly connected to my character and an avenue through which that character may develop and evolve. From when I first began taking in the news, I was drawn to “the bigger picture”; it struck me early how any national event carried impacts affecting other nations and cultures, and this made even the most ordinary news items alive to me. Long before I would explore history and come to see the dynamics of international relations as having forged our past, I had a visceral sense of greater meaning. We live in our own worlds, certainly, and our concerns usually center on what is nearest to us. At the same time, however, there was an instinctive awareness in me that larger forces are in play always, and that nothing occurring within those worlds happens in a limited way. In a very real sense, then, my passion for international affairs is based on a conviction that we all live internationally. Today’s world is increasingly a globalized one, of course, but this only supports my feeling that tides of politics, societies, and commerce worldwide are crucial influences on each one of us, just as all we do in some way influences the interactions.
This passion then encouraged me to move in directions enabling me to enlarge my understanding and my abilities. In my eyes, there can be no more encouraging study than international relations because the subject inevitably encompasses virtually every aspect of culture and progress. My strong interest in history has only emphasized this belief in that, the more I learn about the interactions of nations in the past, the more I perceive the complexity in those occurring today. Studying history is for me no removed investigation into a dead past; it is a vital means of entering into arenas of powerful forces engaged in vast conflict and world-changing alliances. I see the currents of the past as I see how they reflect what commands attention internationally today. For example, as I read about Hitler’s rise to power and how this single individual shaped the destinies of many nations, I am able to relate the impact to other leaders of the past and present, and of widely diverse types. If Hitler fascinates me, as he does, so too am I drawn to those world leaders who have impacts of other kinds. I turned, in fact, from studying Hitler to reading Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom, and the contrast helps me to comprehend how the natures of individual men and women generate ideas which shape the world we all share.
I mentioned earlier that international relations is for me an opportunity to develop, and I believe this because the sheer scope of the study tends to bring out different aspects of myself as a student and as a person. Regarding the former, I am ambitious; there is no “standing still” because there is always another challenge to meet, and this excites my personal nature as well. Then, I find that each effort I make – as happens in international affairs – influences others. My football and athletics activities translate to more energy for focus in study, just as that foundation of physicality is valuable in debating, another pursuit I enjoy very much. The debating in turn fuels my interest in gaining more knowledge because, in the thick of an exciting debate, I want my mind as prepared as my reflexes. Biographies and autobiographies, particularly of world figures, engage me emotionally as they broaden my awareness. I have as well been fortunate enough to travel a great deal, and this is a privilege that has further enlarged my appreciation for the virtually endless range of interests the world provides. I deeply feel that the best course to take is to, “Aim for the moon; even if you miss you will land somewhere amongst the stars.” My own aim has been set for that moon since I first had any understanding of who I was and where I wanted to go. It is, I suppose, ironic, but I have come to believe absolutely that the surest way of reaching the moon and the stars is through studying, in every sense of the word, international relations and the ways in which we all create the world around us.