CIS Young Diplomats Summer Camp Flourishes
When the Harmony Public Schools reached out to the Center for International Studies and Modern Languages at the University of St. Thomas in 2017 to inquire about summer programs focused on diplomacy and global affairs, Dr. Hans Stockton knew that a great opportunity had fallen into his lap. He, along with other members of the CIS faculty, took three months to build a curriculum for the summer camp and launched the Young Diplomats - Global Affairs & Diplomacy camp the following summer, in June 2018.
“The students we brought in were from underserved communities,” Stockton said. “So we designed the program to accommodate their financial needs and inspire them to consider diplomacy as a career path. These students are the future faces of US diplomacy.”
The weeklong camp features lectures from US diplomats, lessons on countries and cultures around the world and culminates with a diplomacy simulation designed by Dr. Eric Botts and Dr. Richard Sindelar and modeled on the United States Diplomacy Center model, the same simulations diplomacy professionals go through.
In the simulation, students were assigned to represent international organizations and nations, are faced with a crisis where they must negotiate to solve the problem while protecting their own interests.
“Our hope is that students start to realize they could be the diplomats. By the end of the camp we hope they envision themselves doing these things, Stockton said. “This is the mental leap we need them to make.”
Making the Leap to College
To date, nearly 34 students from Harmony Public Schools across the Houston Area have participated in 2018 and 2019 summer camps. Of those participating, nearly 20 percent have applied to UST for the undergraduate degree.
Jamie Mai, a freshman education major, was one of the students who participated in the Young Diplomats Camp as a student at Harmony. She feels that attending UST has been a calling, she knows several people who have attended UST, and loved the opportunity to participate in a summer camp on campus.
She recalls the camp being hands-on and fun, and though she is not planning on pursuing diplomacy as a career, knows the skills she gained will still serve her well.
“Participating in this camp helped me develop to be more open minded, practice communication skills, listening skills, teamwork and negotiating,” Mai said. “These skills can go with me whatever direction I go.”
The future looks bright for the Young Diplomats - Global Affairs & Diplomacy camp—Stockton and the CIS faculty have applied for a grant to further reduce the financial burden for students. They are also looking to expand the size and scope of the camp, inviting more students from across the Houston area and building a college preparation components into the program.