Abby just wrapped up her first year at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University where she is pursuing her masters in international studies. Abby has been a program assistant at WIIS since January.
Abby received her bachelor’s degree from Kenyon College in Ohio where she studied language and literature, specifically Mandarin Chinese. Abby has quite the knack and passion for languages, but she wanted to apply them beyond academics. While in college, Abby studied abroad in China, first for a month in Beijing and then for six months in Kunming in southwest China. After completing her undergraduate degree, Abby moved to Turkey as a Fulbright scholar teaching English in Osmaniye in southern Turkey (Fulbright later stopped sending scholars to this city because of the proximity to Syria and the continuing conflict). Abby spoke little to no Turkish when she first went to Turkey, but she learned through immersion. After completing her time with Fulbright, Abby stayed in Turkey and taught English at a university in Istanbul while simultaneously pursuing graduate studies at Koc University in Istanbul. She then moved to Rochester, New York to start the Turkish Language Program at the University of Rochester.
Abby’s passion for the intersection of international security and languages was prompted by her proximity to displaced peoples and conflict in Turkey. Make this following phrase a new sentence The irony of the city she lived in being one of the most conservative and nationalistic in Turkey. Additionally, while she lived in Rochester, shortly after the travel ban, she got to know a family of Syrian refugees. By spending time with this family, Abby saw firsthand the extent to which large policy decisions can play out on a small scale.
Abby knew she needed to attend graduate school, but she didn’t know what exactly she should get her masters in. She slowly realized she needed to be able to study in a field that would enable to use her languages most effectively. Through her experience in academia and her own studies, she realized how siloed sectors of international relations can be, whether that be gender or language. Graduate school brought her to Washington DC, and while at SAIS, a professor recommended WIIS to Abby “because they do great things.” As Abby works at WIIS, she continues to ensure that intersections in security are not siloed; “gender is both immediately important but also more generally important.”
While studying at SAIS, her favorite classes have been Political Economy of Inequality and Global Forced Migration and Arabic (“for fun!”). She loves these classes because they are analytical of structural and historical events while opening space for policy. Abby lives downtown with her husband and two cats where she spends her free time reading novels, typically translated literature. She is currently obsessed with “The Dispossessed” by Ursula Le Guin. She also loves cooking and exploring the world.
At WIIS, Abby has spearheaded preparation for our Next Generation Symposium, organizing the event with balance and grace while simultaneously offering her editing and language skills to members of the WIIS Global team. At the beginning of June, Abby will begin a research internship at the Solidarity Center in DC. Thank you for all you have done in your time at WIIS, Abby!