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.