International Fulbright Students Choose McCormack School for Graduate Study

Kierra Ho, McCormack Graduate School | February 28, 2014
International Fulbright Students Choose McCormack School for Graduate Study

Image by: Kierra Ho

... the performance of the students is very important to everyone who teaches and works (here).

Three students from Palestine, Macedonia, and Germany won Fulbright scholarships and have chosen to pursue their master’s programs in the Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security and Global Governance.

Maha Thaher of Palestine, Shengjyl Osmani of Macedonia, and Charlotte Carnehl of Germany praise the McCormack Graduate School for its supportive faculty, diverse student body, skills-building opportunities, and real-world classroom topics.

Thaher, who was from the city of Ramallah, is fluent in English and Arabic. She is pursuing an MA in conflict resolution and hopes to use her education to create alternative opportunities for children and youth in Palestine, a region with a long history of conflicts.

“When you live in a country where you have limited resources, you see a lot of young people being involved in the conflicts and being so affected by [them],” that the conflicts interfere with the youth’s “ordinary life and ordinary aspects of growing up,” Thaher explains. Such an environment leads to a need to create economic opportunities for the youth, so that living life without engaging in conflicts is a viable option. 

When asked to describe her courses in conflict resolution, Thaher says her program “challenges you and at the same time supports you.”

Additionally, the faculty is “involved in so many projects in the world. They don’t just teach you what’s in the books. They teach you from their personal experiences on what works and what doesn’t,” she says.

Osmani, Thaher’s student peer, notices that her professors make her feel very welcomed. Born in Macedonia, a country in the central Balkan peninsula in southeastern Europe, she completed her BA in public policy, management, and legal studies at the American University in Pristina, Kosovo. This is her first time studying in the U.S.

At UMass Boston, international students “really don’t feel like foreigners at all because the cultural diversity is so big and the professors are so encouraging,” she says.

Osmani appreciates the theoretical underpinnings and applied approaches she learns in class. “[We] learn and know how to manage [conflicts] and how to think of [new ways of] doing things better,” she says.

After completing her master’s degree, Osmani will return to the Balkans and hopes to work for a nonprofit or an international organization addressing ethnic conflicts in that region.

Carnehl, who is pursuing graduate studies in international relations, also aspires to work in an international setting after finishing her program. She is interested in how conflicts arise, the underlying reasons for them, the roles of different actors within those conflicts, the political options to resolve them, and how international intervention can change the conflicts. Fluent in English, German, Italian, and Spanish, she hopes to find a position that enables her to leave a positive impact in people’s lives by using her intercultural and language skills.

Born in Hannover, but completed her bachelor’s in Hamburg, Carnehl sees UMass Boston as a “student-centered university.” At this school, “the performance of the students is very important to everyone who teaches and works” here. 

“Our professors try to teach us how to think critically, how to approach a question in a way that is aware of the biases that we have, but that is also open to answers that we don’t know at the beginning.” Furthermore, they “give me the tools or the understanding to come up with my own ideas and opinions about a question and then to come up with a good thesis,” Carnehl says.

Eben Weitzman, chair of the Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security and Global Governance, is proud to have Thaher, Osmani, and Carnehl be part of the diverse community at the McCormack School. “We encourage students to voice their opinions, and to share perspectives from their own lived experiences. Our work with them—both inside the classroom and out in the field—provides them with the knowledge and tools to shape the communities they will return to and to leave a positive impact there.”

When Osmani is asked if she would recommend the McCormack Graduate School to others, she says, “If they want to experience [an American] education with a great world experience and great international cases or diversity, the McCormack School is a great place to be.” Also, “professors with great life experiences are there to present to you what the world around us is like or how bad it is. We are given a picture that we will be able to paint or shape” to resolve conflicts in our homelands, Osmani says.

According to Dean Ira A. Jackson, “Our ability to attract top-notch students hinges on our growing reputation as a first-rate graduate school and research center. This department has 11 Fulbright applicants and one USAID applicant for the fall, hailing from Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Indonesia, Jamaica, Mauritania, Mali, Pakistan, Peru, and Poland. It’s a very impressive group, indeed.”

Tags: conflict resolution , fulbright students , global

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Comments (1)

Posted by Joseph Atang (Yusuf Tanko) | March 08, 2014 - 6:04 a.m.

Not a surprise to me. I’m really proud to be an alumnus of CRHSGG. High-quality faculty. Wonderful administrator in Roni. And everyone is very friendly and culturally sensitive. I can see Ifeoma is giving a session with students on Monday. I will work toward a similar engagement. UMass is truly a BEACON.