My grandmother and I.
My grandmother and I.

Fulfilling a Family Legacy

While attending high school in Hawaii, I organized and hosted a modified statewide Model United Nations conference for my senior project. If someone told ninth-grade me that I would be managing a project of that scale just a few years later, I wouldn’t have believed them. But, because of that club, I had the chance to meet ambassadors, travel to New York and San Francisco, and pursue my interest in political science.

For me, choosing my major at Arcadia didn’t require much thought. My decision to become a political science major stemmed from a very young age. I lived with my grandparents growing up. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my grandmother worked in a field similar to the one I hope to enter.

As the Director of Foreign Relations for the Federated States of Micronesia, my grandmother traveled a lot. She worked closely with ambassadors from Japan, China, Australia, and the United States for many years, focusing on women’s empowerment and expanding children’s education in Micronesia. Through various partnerships with these countries, she helped spark improvement for developing countries within the Pacific Ocean.

I didn’t fully understand her position until I spent the summer of 2012 at her home, when she had a visit from a Chinese ambassador’s wife. That summer, my grandmother fell critically ill due to a lung condition. She was retired by then and spent her days watching America’s Got Talent on a hospital bed she had installed in her bedroom. While we watched TV together on one of those relaxing Saturdays, my uncle came in and announced that there was a phone call from the Foreign Affairs office. Someone requested to speak to my grandmother.

Curious, I asked her who she was on the phone with, to which she nonchalantly replied, “The Chinese ambassador. His wife and her assistant are just stopping by for today.” Apparently, they had heard about my grandmother’s poor health and wanted to pay their respects in recognition of their years of collaborations. The visit was informal; it was like watching old friends catching up. Though, I was impressed to see how significant my grandmother had been in her time. The rest of the summer went by quickly, and I was thankful for the time I got to spend with her and discover more about her life.

Learning about my grandmother’s career has made me wonder: Did I choose my major or did it choose me? Is political science in my blood? Like any child, I dreamed of being many things. For a homework assignment in the third grade, I wrote that being a dog breeder was my dream career. That obviously didn’t last long as an aspiration, but at the time, I really loved puppies. However, I realized I’ve always been curious about the world outside my small island. I’ve always been fascinated by the news and learning about different cultures.

When Swiss Ambassador Paul R. Seger visited Arcadia in January to give a talk , I was reminded not only of my Model UN club nickname, “Smithzerland,” and my enthusiasm for international relations but also of that summer I spent with my grandmother. As I listened to his lecture, one thing stood out to me: the importance of supportive global partnerships. That concept has been a critical factor encouraging growth for many countries as my grandmother’s work had shown.