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Sample Personal Statement for International Studies

From 2000-2002, I participated in a major academic research project—xx—jointly launched by the School of International Studies and the History Department of xx University. During this project, I was the person-in-charge coordinating the student researchers on the sub-project “xx”. In November 2001, at the invitation of the xx-China Cultural Association, I paid a visit to the xx National University, and as a delegate representing Chinese students, I made a keynote speech at the China-Japan-xx Conference on Environmental Diplomacy. Then in December 2003, as a representative of outstanding students, I took part in the xx jointly held by the United Nations and xx University. Finally, from June to July 2004, I went on a exchange program under the sponsorship of the xx Foundation and participated in seminars and workshops on international relations at University of xx and University of xx.

The foregoing activities are just some of the highlights, not the totality, of my seven-year academic career at the School of International Studies of xx University, the most prestigious teaching and research institution of international relations in China. Some of those opportunities are extremely rare and selective, eligible only to a very limited number of top students. As a student of international studies, I have veritably acquired quite considerable international experiences and developed international perspectives, especially in Southeast Asian studies that I would like to study through a Ph.D. program. This is what distinguishes me from the rest of my classmates and from other Chinese applicants to your program.

Majoring in International Relations in my undergraduate and graduate program, I have received both intensive and extensive academic trainings in this field and have undertaken advanced research in them. My academic transcripts would indicate the full spectrum of foundational and core courses I have taken as an undergraduate and as a graduate student. They encompass both the highly theoretical classic courses of international relations such as Theory of International Relations and History of Western Political Thought and the specialized, in-depth, regional studies such as Southeast Asia Studies and American Studies. In the due course, my study of international relations have undergone an important transformation, proceeding from simple analysis of political and economic relations between major countries onto the construction of theoretical frameworks under which to perform analysis and interpretation, and to further make rational and justified predictions.

In terms of academic achievements, I am also quite prominent among my fellow students. Apart from being involved in the major research projects and academic activities mentioned in the first paragraph, I have excelled in two other important aspects. On one hand, during my undergraduate and graduate programs, I have achieved an average overall GPA of 3.8, with an even higher GPA in specialized courses, which has brought me the highest-level scholarships of the School and the University. Since 2002, I have been recruited as teaching assistant by the University’s Center of American Studies on the course American Culture and Society. On the other hand, I have pored over a quantity of classic works on international relations to be acquainted with the scholarly perspectives and views of the leading authors in the field. For example, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order by Samuel Huntington triggered my serious thinking on the distinctive features of Asian civilization and on the relationship among major powers in East Asia. I am also impressed by the idea of “soft power” proposed by Joseph Nye, which inspired me to carry out research on the role of Asian values in Lee Kuan Yew’s Reign over Singapore in my undergraduate thesis, which was scored 90 points. In addition, based on group discussions and research findings, I have published several papers—xx, xx, and xx.

One thing special about my Master’s program is that the program is jointly run by the School of International Studies of xx University and the xx Foundation. The courses have all been taught by eminent scholars from the United States, Japan and China and the languages used include English, Japanese and Chinese. Naturally, such a joint program lays emphasis on China-U.S.-Japan relations and I have been systematically trained in standard scholarly research. Seminars, presentations, case analysis and group discussions dominate our program.

Under such a background, Asian studies have naturally become my focus. Having done much detailed preparations, I am writing my dissertation on the influence of Japan’s non-government organizations on Sino-Japan relations. With the xx Foundation, the largest NGO in xx, as a basis for case study and incorporating my investigations in xx, I will examine the role played by xx’s NGOs in facilitating Sino-Japan relations when the two governments fail to active effectively in promoting the bilateral relations.

An important part of my extracurricular activities are also related to international relations. While acting as vice chairperson of our School’s student union, I launched an inter-collegiate (xx University, xx University of China, and xx University) student seminar on international relations. I also interned at the Department of xx, xx, fulfilling such responsibilities as contacting the officials of the xx and xx. Development and Planning Commission, accompanying foreign delegations on inspection tours to China’s poverty-stricken areas. In addition, I have been an editor of several student publications and a volunteer at conferences and major public events. In performing those public duties, I have demonstrated my readiness to contribute to the student community and the social community.

As China prepares to play an increasingly important role on a global basis, it first of all has to deal with its relations with Asian countries, one of the most challenging issues in China’s foreign policy. As International Relations is a fairly new academic discipline in China, the research performed by Chinese scholars has yet to become more systematic and in-depth. In order to study the subject in an international context, not simply in an East Asian context, I would like to apply a Ph.D. program in international relations from the xx University. xx is the acknowledged top institution in international studies, particularly in Asian studies, with a well-developed framework of systematic and productive theories and methodologies. A number of eminent scholars from the United States, Japan and China are performing pioneering and the most updated research in the fields I am interested in. In entering your program, I will meet students from the United States and East Asian countries and can share their views on a number of complicated issues so that my perspectives will be balanced and well-informed. Under your program, I would like to concentrate on the relations between East Asian countries and on the U.S.’s strategy in East Asia, with the help of quantitative and qualitative economic and mathematical models.

My career objective is two-folded—to become a scholar of international relations at Peking University engaged in teaching, research and academic exchanges. I am also interested in facilitating non-governmental exchanges, on the academic, economic and cultural levels, among East Asian countries. I have been part of such academic exchanges as a student and there is no reason why such exchanges should not be promoted beyond the academic level.


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