The Dynamics of International Politics: Student Betselot Dejene
Betselot Dejene was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. When she was 16, she moved to the U.S. to attend boarding school. After graduating from high school, Betselot moved to Italy to attend JCU. She is currently pursuing a B.A. in International Affairs with a minor in Legal Studies. Betselot was recently selected to assist the organizers of TEDxRoma 2023.
What brought you to Rome and JCU?
After living in the U.S. for two years I was looking for something different and I started looking at universities in Europe. My dad lived in Italy for a little bit, and I remember he told me a lot about the culture, the food, and the people. I was also looking to continue my education in the American system and JCU offered that, and it was based in Italy. I really enjoyed small classes throughout my academic career, and the liberal arts education system that JCU follows provided me with that.
What made you decide to study International Affairs?
I have always been interested in the dynamics of international politics, whether it be the news that was on in the background during dinner, or political discussions in the family. The different perspectives people had fascinated me. As I grew older, I understood the nuances of politics and how it is completely different around the world, and that drove me to read more books on the subject and try to understand the various structures that existed.
Originally, I considered going into war journalism and traveling around the world to follow different stories and share them with others. As I grew older, I developed a liking for the policy side of things; I joined Model United Nations societies and that brought me closer to the field. Media bias was also one of the biggest factors for me: growing up, I saw how western media depicted politics in my own and in other African countries. It frustrated me how we were always portrayed as backward societies and how western media failed to portray the different actors that play into conflicts, as well as politics in the whole continent. That led me to then want to be a representative of my culture and my continent, our long-standing history, and the complexities and nuances. I wanted to bring our ways of living, understanding and organizing politically to conversations in the international context.
Tell us about your role as Secretary General for the JCUMUN 2023 edition.
This is a role that is very near and dear to my heart. It is a role I have dreamed of having since I joined the MUN world. MUN has helped me fall in love with diplomacy and understand the different aspects of communication, arbitration, conflict resolution, and policy making. This role is a way to give back to the MUN world by creating an experience for other new and former delegates, bringing them together, and hoping they learn from it and grow from it as I have. What makes my role different this year is that we are coming back after being online and dormant for the past two editions. So, in some ways, it is a comeback for JCUMUN, and I am very honored to be planning this conference at such a time, along with my amazing deputy-secretary general and secretariat. This year, the conference aims to have about 160 people in total, and we are excited to host everyone in March.
You did several internships in the past few years. Tell us about them.
I have worked with several companies and helped organize other MUN conferences. Last summer I was an intern for the International Women’s Right Project (IWRP), where I provided support on the project with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the African Union on training advocates to use international and regional human rights law on violence against women and sexual and reproductive rights. It was a great experience to work on a project focused on the African continent and women, while also developing skills in my area of interest.
I also have worked with Ad Impact, an advertising tracking company focused on providing data solutions to clients. I supported the team in standardizing political and non-political ad data for clients. It was very interesting to see how much money politicians spend on advertising during campaign periods and the importance of analyzing such data to prepare for future campaigns. These two internships were the most interesting to me and they helped me see two completely different aspects of politics that I appreciated.
On January 21, you assisted the organizers of TEDxRoma 2023. Tell us about the experience.
Together with other JCU colleagues, I was assigned to the team that would be working with the speakers. It was a great opportunity to be able to meet them and have conversations with them and help them get accustomed to the venue. I was in charge of making sure they had everything they needed on the day of the conference and help direct them with any questions or concerns they had throughout the day. There were some amazing speakers, so it was a great opportunity to be able to work with them and interact with them one on one. It was also interesting to see the amount of planning that goes into TEDx conferences. It made me appreciate them more and helped give me some ideas should I want to plan one in the future.
What are your plans for the future?
After graduation, I would love to continue my studies in International Security/Intelligence Studies and possibly move to a new city. I would then love to work in the security and intelligence field for international organizations. Eventually, I would love to become the UN Secretary-General.