Letitia Chai

Class of 2018

Hometown: Boston, Mass. and Seoul, South Korea

What is your College Scholar project?
The College Scholar program has enabled me to design a major in Peace and Conflict Studies with concentrations in nonviolent resistance and intangible cultural heritage. I seek to decipher how nonviolence and intercultural understanding can be used towards constructing more effective peace-building initiatives for underrepresented peoples in high-conflict zones. Courses such as Professor Andrew Mertha’s “Chinese Empire and the Cambodian Experience” taught in Cambodia and Professor Holly Case’s “Politics of Violence in 20th Century Europe” have allowed me to explore mass violence and authoritarian regimes through field learning and history, respectively. Independent research courses with Professor Alexander Livingston on “Gandhi’s Political Thought” and with Professor Matthew Evangelista on “Civil Wars and Political Violence” have provided me with unique opportunities to study and discuss key subjects in Peace and Conflict Studies with experts at Cornell.

What are your most important extra-curricular activities?
One of the most influential activities that I participate in is the Tibet Initiative at Cornell (TIC). Through the club, I have met some of my closest friends. Together, we advocate for change in Tibet and we explore Tibetan religious and contemporary culture. 

Talk about any summer internships or programs you’ve attended?
After freshman year, I worked as a legislative intern for the Central Tibetan Administration, the Tibetan-government-in-exile. The experience exposed me to the challenges faced by unrepresented communities seeking international recognition and support in the political arena. This summer, with the support of the Harrop and Ruth Freeman Fellowship and other grants, I am working as a research assistant for the Center for Diversity and National Harmony (CDNH) in Yangon, Myanmar. The think tank internship has enabled me to learn from dedicated analysts and to conduct field research in Northern Rakhine State, a region with a history of interethnic conflict. 

What do you dream of doing after graduation?
Junior year, I will be studying International Relations and Political Science at Sciences Po in Paris. After graduation, I would like to work in multilateral diplomacy.