Fourth year Politics student, Colin Mitchell, travelled to Geneva, Switzerland for three months this summer to work as a Junior Research Officer with the United Nations Broadband Commission, conducting research for his Honours thesis. Mitchell was the recipient of the Honours Summer Research Award, granting him $4050 to work abroad.
Mitchell’s thesis focuses on Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) development in Rwanda and how states use international organizations to further their geopolitical interests. He says the process of developing a thesis is ever changing. Although his original proposal significantly evolved over the course of three months, the research remains the same, and his international experience only enhanced his process.
While abroad, Mitchell was in constant contact with his supervisor at Acadia, Dr. Can E. Mutlu, who guided him through the thesis’s research process. During his internship, Mitchell worked with well-versed researchers writing reports, attending meetings and helping draft the annual State of Broadband Report.
An essential part of his internship was working closely with other interns from countries all over the world to campaign for better intern benefits, such as improving gym conditions and advocating for food vouchers. Mitchell describes this collaborative experience as one that exposed him to a wide variety of perspectives coming together to achieve a common goal.
“It was all about confronting your preconceptions head on and from there, challenging yourself to open your eyes to new ideas,” he says.
He points out working and living as a student in a foreign country is a valuable way of learning as it provides hands-on experience. “To learn, you have to see what you’re doing first hand. Seeing the international system upfront, you get a very different perspective,” he says.
He adds that adapting to life in a foreign country offers the kind of learning experience that cannot be taught in a classroom, as it pushes students to step out of their comfort zone. “Experiential learning forces you to think on your feet, to learn things from how to get to places and how much food costs, to how to communicate in a different language on a daily basis.”
Mitchell’s internship in Geneva is one that mirrors Acadia’s education approach because it encourages students to constantly challenge and build themselves through learning.
“At Acadia there’s the focus, right from the very beginning, to get out of your comfort zone. Learning by experience is nurtured through Welcome Week, academics and everything the university has to offer,” he says.
In his final year at Acadia, Mitchell is President of the Paul Tom Debate Society, Treasurer of Acadia Model United Nations, Acadia’s Representative on the Maple League Student Committee Executive, and a member of The Athenaeum, Acadia’s student newspaper since 1874. After graduation he hopes to obtain a Master’s degree in International Relations and work towards a career in Canadian politics.
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