Laura Smith (MPIA '11)
Laura Smith traveled to Israel this summer (2010) to complete an internship at the Palestine-Israel Journal of Politics, Culture and Economics, located in East Jerusalem. The Journal is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing a critical, but balanced view of the Arab-Israeli conflict through an equally mixed Israeli and Palestinian staff and editorial board. As an intern she participated in conferences, meetings and was encouraged to write about her own experiences on the journal's blog.
Smith reflects on her experience, "From the beginning, I expected that my experience at the Journal would give substance and proof to all those facts about the conflict I have spent so many years learning. I was not prepared for the tremendous effect that the experience of living in this troubled city had on me. Living with Israelis, talking with Palestinian refugees and making the walk each day from West Jerusalem to East Jerusalem has completely changed not only my own ideas as to what will bring peace to this place, but also how I hope to spend my career after I gradate from GSPIA."
At GSPIA Smith studied "The American Way of Diplomacy" with Dr. Charles Skinner, a former U.S. diplomat. After spending a summer as a stranger in a strange land, in combination to the information that she learned in Dr. Skinner's course, Smith plans to dedicate her career to assisting fellow Americans abroad.
She hopes to join the U.S. Foreign Service as a consular officer, using her problem-solving and managerial skills to address a variety of challenges facing U.S. citizens who are traveling, living, or conducting business abroad. Smith shares how her internship has shaped the way she thinks about this complex conflict, "This experience has also shown me that a life lived in constant struggle and conflict is no life at all. I am dedicated more than ever to finding a means of conflict resolution and peace building for all the residents of this ancient land."
In addition to thanking the Israel Heritage Room Committee, part of the University of Pittsburgh Nationality Room Scholarship program, for their generous support, Smith adds, "I owe a debt of gratitude to the faculty, staff and students of GSPIA who encouraged and prepared me to take this adventure." Laura Smith will graduate in April 2011 with a Masters in Public and International Affairs, majoring in Human Security.