Four years ago, Christine Kim set foot on Michigan’s campus for the first time. A native of Maryland, she was eager to begin her college career but didn't dream of the exciting things that awaited her. Fast forward to present day and you’ll find that Kim’s story has taken her not only to our nation’s capital, but to over 10 countries and 26 different cities around the world. Her explanation for these forays outside Ann Arbor: “There is no better way to widen the scope of one’s learning experience than by traveling, especially as a student!”
Kim, whose main interests lie in world politics and international relations, spent her first two years at Michigan deciding on a concentration. “After redirecting my career path three times (from business, to medicine, to international relations), I have come to believe in investing in adventures as an undergraduate and getting lost, if needed,” she said.
She began planning travel during her junior year, and officially declared Political Science as her major. She recognized the importance of knowing one’s own history before exploring the histories of others so her first step was to find a way to study and work as an intern in Washington, D.C. MIW gave Kim the chance to attend classes that were taught by some of the most respected professionals in government, non-profits and the media, and also allowed her to be at an internship where she could network with policy experts.
Kim's research paper, How US-China’s Misalignment in National Security Interests Affects DPRK’s [North Korea’s] Behavior, was a content analysis of the national security policy preferences of the U.S. and China and their effect on DPRK’s behavior in six-party talks using the Veto Players Theory of institutional politics. Based on the substance of the paper and compelling manner in which she presented her ideas, Kim was the recipient of one of two awards given for outstanding research papers.
Like other MIW students, Kim took elective courses while in DC. "My favorite class was the American Political Journalism class at the Washington Post headquarters,” she said. “By learning about different kinds of journalism and getting in the habit of interpreting and reacting to the news, I now approach news with a more critical mindset.” She attributes her academic experiences in D.C., the professional development and networking as the main reasons that she found MIW so rewarding.
In addition to these academic and professional benefits, Kim found that MIW prepared her for global travel since she had to adjust to a new city and learn to get around in short order. When her MIW term ended in fall of 2011, she packed her bags and boarded a plane to Switzerland. While there, she took classes that further developed her interest in working for peace through diplomacy and human rights advocacy. Her time in Switzerland allowed her to focus on international development and poverty issues – two issues that are critical to Kim.
Outside of the classroom, Kim traveled with friends and family to a host of other countries, including Germany, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Austria and others. She advises students who are interested in studying abroad or participating in domestic programs like MIW to explore program websites and talk with faculty, students and staff to plan and finance their adventure.
“As an out-of-state student, scholarships played a considerable role in what I chose to do, but MIW and the Center for Global and Intercultural Study (CGIS) office are generous in supporting their students.”
Looking back on everything that she has accomplished, there is no doubt that the Christine Kim, who graduated in April, has grown intellectually and developed personally during her four years as a Wolverine. Her participation in Michigan in Washington along with travels abroad have given her the kind of liberal arts education that distinguishes the University of Michigan.
“Both experiences were challenging,” Kim admits, “and the learning curve throughout the entire year was steep! But it was worth every minute.”