When Anastasia Sobolina emigrated from Russia to Boston to study at Northeastern University she didn’t know what she wanted to do after graduation. But it was while sitting in an International Affairs classroom that she discovered her dream: to pursue a career in diplomacy.
She was a junior sitting in associate professor Denise Garcia’s “International Conflict and Negotiation” course when she was challenged in a debate to represent the Russian delegation and suggest potential solutions for the Ukrainian Crisis. “Much to my surprise, not only did I take this project very seriously, but also understood that it was my dream to represent my country on a global scale and that I would thrive working in the diplomatic field,” said Sobolina, who speaks Russian, French and English.
Fast-forward a few years, Sobolina, who graduated this year with a BA in International Affairs and minors in psychology and history, is a first-year student in the new MA in International Affairs, an interdisciplinary graduate program housed in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs dedicated to preparing tomorrow’s global citizens.
“I believe that earning a Master’s in International Affairs from the school I have dedicated my life to for the past four years is my opportunity to achieve my ultimate dream of working for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in my home country. I have already learned so much from the professors that teach here and I am confident that continuing my studies in this school will broaden the horizons of my knowledge. I have no doubt that Northeastern’s Master’s in International Affairs is the ideal place for me to get the globalized view that is essential in my field.”
—Anastasia Sobolina, student in the MA in International Affairs with an International Public Policy track
According to Sobolina, the program is helping satiate her curiosity around international policy and historical events. She is currently enrolled in professor Valentine Moghadam’s “Political Economy: Interdisciplinary Perspectives” course where she is learning how states, institutions, policy choices, and social forces shape—and are influenced by—global economy and the world polity.
“This area was absolutely new to me,” she said. “Learning all the theories and studying the best economists’ works helped me understand my country better.”
For her final project, Sobolina is writing a comprehensive paper on semi-peripheral development, and how Russia reconstructed itself in the 21st century thus becoming once again a major international player. She said Moghadam’s class helped her understand data, draw a much fuller picture of the situation, and find explanations for key events and policies.
In assistant professor Max Abrahms’ course, “International Security,” Sobolina is exploring key problems in international security faced by nation-states, citizens, refugees and non-government organizations. “I love the content and the assignments,” she said.
Discussions, for example, focus on timely issues related to militant group violence, dictatorships, drone strikes, Middle East politics, Donald Trump’s foreign policies, border security, and the prospects of peace.
Outside of the classroom, Sobolina serves as chair of public relations and logistics on the e-board of the Northeastern University Russian Speaking Club, where she helps organize events that introduce the Northeastern community to Russian culture, as well as talks and debates on current world issues. She joined the club during her sophomore year because she said she wanted to educate others about her home country.
“Rather often, when foreigners first think of Russia, they imagine bears that walk down the streets of Moscow City, matreshkas (Russian dolls), vodka, and the St. Basil’s Cathedral,” she said. “I experienced these stereotypes firsthand when I arrived in the U.S. to pursue my higher education. Those experiences made me realize that I wanted to do something to show people that my motherland is not just bears and vodka, but a beautiful country with rich history and interesting culture.”