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WCSU student, alumnus to attend International Diplomacy Forum in Thailand

image of Bakhtawar Izzat and Victor Namer
Bakhtawar Izzat and Victor Namer

DANBURY, CONN. — When the International Diplomacy Forum convenes at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok, Thailand, in July 2019, emerging young professionals from more than 50 countries will assemble for practical sessions, interactive workshops, solution-based discussions, negotiation exercises, career advice and networking relating to opportunities in global diplomacy.

They will hear from speakers like Kishore Mahbubani, former president of the U.N. Security Council and a senior adviser in University & Global Relations. One of Prospect Magazine’s “Top 50 World Thinkers,” Mahbubani is a professor in the Practice of Public Policy. Also addressing attendees will be Felipe Quiepo, communications officer, Civil Society & Advocacy Section, Department of Global Communications, at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

In addition to some of the top names in global diplomacy, two of the invited attendees will have Western Connecticut State University ties: 2019 graduate Victor Namer, of Danbury, and Bakhtawar Izzat, of Bethel, who will be entering her junior year at WCSU in the fall.

Namer received dual Bachelor of Science degrees in Psychology and Political Science with a minor in Conflict Resolution in May. He was named one of two 2019 Henry Barnard Distinguished Students from WCSU, was a Kathwari Honors student, and received a number of scholarships and awards while obtaining his degrees. Namer graduated with a 3.91 GPA and was on the Dean’s List every semester.

Izzat is a current Kathwari Honors student pursuing a degree in Political Science with a minor in Business Administration. She is a certified NASPA peer educator, a peer leader for First Year students/the Career Success Center and social media manager for the WCSU Rotaract Club. She has been on the Dean’s List every semester, and was awarded an Alumni Association scholarship in the spring.

Izzat said an email was sent to political science students and alumni with a description of the International Diplomacy Forum and information about how to be considered.

“I absolutely love being involved, and responded to the email by tagging my adviser, Professor of Social Sciences Dr. Averell Manes,” she said. “I asked if she would be interested in nominating me, and she responded to me by requesting my resume. From there, the adventure to finesse my resume began. It was with her constant encouragement that I felt confident in the process.”

Manes said that while she made sure all social sciences students were aware of the opportunity, “I specifically invited Baki and Victor because I thought they would be so perfect for it. In addition, I wrote a strong nomination letter with their resumes, which I was told by the secretariat was instrumental, as I believed that they would both be very well-suited to it because of their backgrounds.” Manes also assisted with the funding aspect from behind the scenes.

When notified of her acceptance to the forum, Izzat ran to her mother with the news.

“She is the backbone of everything I do and my biggest supporter,” Izzat said. “I am a first-generation college student, so hearing this brought tears to her eyes. I told her that I am extremely honored to represent our university and the United States. Knowing that I can make some sort of difference globally, and learn while I am at it, is a privilege that I am greatly honored to have.”

Namer also was enthusiastic about his nomination.

“I realized that I was one of 200 students worldwide who would be participating in this forum, but also that I would be representing the United States and WCSU,” he said. “Not only was I nominated by the community that raised me, but now I am able to represent WCSU and the U.S. on an international level, and I couldn’t be more honored.”

Izzat said one reason she wants to attend is that she wants to learn about the experiences people have had in different parts of the globe.

“I know the conference will be hosting a lot of ambassadors, government officials and activists, so learning about their roles and lives is something I look forward to doing,” she said. “Additionally, my main goal that I hope to accomplish at this conference is to make long-lasting relationships with individuals who are different than I am. I hope to engage in conversation with almost all 200 students there, and to understand what their lives are like. I am humbled that I have earned the chance to be in the presence of such wonderful people, and interacting with them is a goal I look forward to accomplishing.”

Namer shared similar aspirations.

“During this conference, I want to learn ways to practically apply the skills of diplomacy, peacemaking and social justice into my career. Having just graduated from WCSU, I want to work in either the nonprofit world, or go into the political realm. Having these skills under my belt of how to tangibly impact local, state and national communities is something that I am greatly looking forward to learning through these seminars and workshops.”

Izzat added, “My ultimate goal in life is to be an influential female, and being able to understand who/what is around me becomes a key factor in trying to foster growth and societal change. I want to initiate the positive change in the world that people so often talk about, and I think this conference will allow me to tap into how that change exactly looks like on a larger scale.”

While at WCSU, Namer studied abroad in Thailand and Spain through the International Student Exchange Program. He also took advantage of every travel opportunity presented to him. “As of now, I have visited 17 countries,” he said.

Izzat has traveled to Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Ireland and England. “Although these were not trips for the purpose of studying abroad,” she explained, “I have gained immense knowledge about the various cultures and traditions of these areas.”

In addition to being well versed in international travel, both Namer and Izzat said their studies at WCSU have prepared them for the forum.

“First and foremost, my two study-abroad experiences have molded me into a global citizen, laying the framework for my interest in these respective fields of peacemaking,” Namer said. “My political science major has offered course work in global and interpersonal conflict resolution/international relations, where I got to study under my two amazing mentors at WCSU: Dr. Averell Manes and Dr. Christopher Kukk. This education provided me with groundwork that I can now mold into more concrete and tangible applications. Finally, taking everything into perspective, I am incredibly excited for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Working at the United Nations was something I never thought would happen in this lifetime for myself, but this was something made possible thanks to WCSU. I am truly grateful and ecstatic to be a part of such a dynamic group whose mission is simply the spread of peace to the world.”

Izzat said she also feels prepared for what the forum will offer.

“My political science major has encouraged me to dive deeper into the historical understandings of our past and to not only answer questions about our present, but to question our answers for the present too. My professors, whether in the political science field or not, have all planted some sort of seed in me that helped me grow into the individual I am today. WCSU allowed me to become a certified peer educator and has paved a pathway for me to gain multiple levels of leadership experience. My time here has effectively made me aware of the necessities of the community, and has put me in the position of being able to help those around me.

“The Kathwari Honors Program has played an immense role in being an establishment that fosters confidence in young individuals like me,” Izzat continued. “Individuals like Dr. Manes; Professor of Communication and Media Arts Dr. Maryann Murtha; Associate Professor of Writing, Linguistics and Creative Process Dr. Kelli Custer; Honors Program Director Dr. Chris Kukk; Honors Program Assistant Director Jessica Lin; Career Success Center Director Kathleen Lindenmayer; Career Success Center Administrative Assistant Christine Hoy; and my own peers like Victor Namer, are all enthusiasts for being kind and fostering change throughout the community. And that, I believe, is what this conference is attempting to establish as well.”



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