Zivya Sutton

International Experience Country:
South Africa
Cohort Year:
Home Institution:

Washington & Jefferson College

Heinz Programming Area:
Economic Opportunity
Zivya Sutton is in her second year at Washington & Jefferson college pursuing a double major in International Studies and Economics with a concentration in Conflict Resolution Studies. In addition to her studies, Zivya is an involved leader on the W&J campus. She is a member of the Student Government Association as the Secretary and student liaison to Academic Affairs, serves as a Matthew Brown Fellow, and was the Student Coordinator for new student orientation for the Fall of 2020. She is also involved in Greek life as well as several clubs and organizations. Zivya has always had a passion for growing as a leader and helping the community in which she lives. In 2011 she had her first experience volunteering by helping to create a therapeutic horseback riding program assisting individuals with disabilities. This experience inspired her to seek opportunities to become involved in community activities and organizations, some being Habitat for Humanity, Produce to People, and Big Brothers Big Sisters. Her deepest passion is working on issues related to immigration rights and advocacy. This interest stemmed from a two-week travel course in Arizona during which Zivya participated in humanitarian aid training and worked with nonprofit organizations assisting migrant communities. Combining her academic interest and passion for enhancing the experience of others, she strives to continue to find opportunities to learn and grow.
International Experience Summary:

Zivya Sutton spent six weeks participating in The School for International Trainings (SIT) virtual course and internship in South Africa. The program was focused on International Relations, Diplomacy, and Conflict Resolutions, all of which are topics that Zivya is passionate about. She selected this program because she had an initial curiosity to find commonalities between the north-centric customs she has grown up around and those in non-western societies in which she has less familiarity. However, the curiosity to find commonalities was quickly replaced by a curiosity to identify differences between the institutions she is accustomed to and those she knows less about. Zivya believes that identifying these differences can then allow individuals to appreciate unique qualities, see the beauty in diversity, and acknowledge that the western way of conducting politics and international relations should not be boasted as being dominant over others. The internship component of the course was through a partnership with the Institute for Global Dialogue (IGD), a think tank organization that explores how emerging southern powers relate to South Africa. IGD also analyzes South Africa’s position on the world stage. During the internship, Zivya researched one of Africa’s largest social, economic, and political development initiatives known as Agenda 2063. Following her, in-depth research, she then interviewed a youth civil society leader in South Africa.

The purpose of the interview was to gain insights into how well Agenda 2063, a policy that relies on youth cooperation is understood by young leaders within South African communities. The course with SIT and internship experience with IGD was enlightening and vital to her understanding of fundamental information regarding Africa’s current continental development initiatives as well as some of the country's political and economic challenges and triumphs. Learning about the context of South Africa and the country’s international as well as intercontinental relationships positioned students including Zivya to challenge their biases and engage with novel material.

Zivya's study abroad experience has helped her explore different career paths in which she can work to help others and bridge gaps. While she is unsure of what her future will hold, Zivya is passionate about finding ways to give back in a way that creates sustainable, equitable, and positive change no matter the scale.