It is rare for someone still in college to play a role in formulating solutions to the world’s most pressing issues. But that’s exactly what international relations and economics major Floriane Borel ’14 did last June as a delegate to the 2013 Y8 Summit in London.
The Y8 Summit is an annual event organized by the International Diplomatic Engagement Association (IDEA), a global network of youth organizations that supports young leaders, who are interested in diplomatic careers. At the conclusion of the weeklong summit, participants produce a “Final Communiqué” containing all the policy recommendations decided upon during discussions. This document is then submitted to leaders of G8 nations for consideration.
“I’m passionate about activities and simulations, like Model U.N., that push students to put into practice the knowledge they’ve acquired in the classroom,” says Borel. “I was interested in taking that process a step further.”
After a “very stressful” interview process, which consisted of a written essay and a series of Skype interviews, Borel was selected as “sherpa” of the International Delegation. “The role of sherpa is quite extensive and a bit hard to describe,” she says. Essentially, sherpas set agendas for the negotiations, decide which issues will be tackled during the summit, and monitor the negotiations as they unfold.
During the weeklong summit, student delegates were divided into panels, where they examined specific policy areas. “We discussed the same issues that global leaders tackled during the G8 Summit a few days before,” says Borel. At the top of their agenda was the humanitarian crisis in Syria, nuclear nonproliferation, and Iran’s nuclear expansion. They also talked about ways to address youth unemployment in Europe, and how to promote government transparency and combat tax havens.
“The process was extremely engaging, as we were dealing with pressing political challenges that are important for the future of international relations and closely affect our futures.”
Borel’s favorite part of the experience was meeting and working with student leaders from across the globe. “The passion these students had for international relations and their willingness to move past their countries’ political differences in order to engage in positive collaborative action was inspiring,” she says.
As a young woman looking toward a career in diplomacy, she was also grateful for the opportunity to see how theories are learned in the classroom could be practically applied to real situations. “It allowed me to gain a real-world perspective on the importance of the major I chose to pursue at Wheaton.”
Borel says the topic of international relations is extremely relevant to her life. Born into a Franco-American family, she has lived in both the U.S. and in France. But her path was solidified when she took Professor Darlene Boroviak’s “Introduction to International Politics” as a freshman. “I became increasingly invested in exploring the new dynamics that governed relations between states in the post–Cold War era,” she says.
The Y8 summit gave Borel a greater understanding of what it takes to be an effective leader, especially in the political sphere. “The focus of the Y8 Summit was diplomacy, which meant we were expected to carry out negotiations in a way that honored the other participants’ perspectives.”
She intends to uphold and encourage these values in her current role as vice president of Wheaton’s Student Government Association.