A Citizen of the World Heads to The Hague

Sidoine Bao stands outside the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Above: Sidoine Bao stands outside the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Update below from Sidoine Bao on March 9, 2020

Internships at the International Criminal Court (ICC) are not typically meant for undergraduate students, but University of Bridgeport sophomore Sidoine Bao applied for one anyway, and she got it. Her success can be attributed to a combination of factors, including her unique background, her studies at UB, and key professor-mentors.

Bao was born and raised in Abidjan, the economic capital of the Ivory Coast. She learned about the University of Bridgeport when she attended a forum at a nearby U.S. Embassy. When she flew more than 7,500 miles from home to attend UB, she was already fluent in French, English and Spanish. Her international background and multilingualism shaped her worldview and mindset: “I consider myself a citizen of the world,” she said.

Here at UB, Bao quickly chose to major in International Political Economy and Diplomacy (IPED). She is very specifically motivated, based on her own experiences in the Ivory Coast, where coup attempts and civil war have left their mark on the country. “Growing up in this environment inspired me to study issues of diplomacy,” she said. “I care about the challenges that people face around the world. I also have an interest in politics and want to become a diplomat, so the IPED program is a perfect match.” 

While at UB, she worked toward expanding her repertoire of languages by taking three semesters of Chinese. Her worldview has also continued to be enlarged here. When asked which courses have been especially helpful, she emphatically responded, “all of them!” Then she added, recalling her interview for the position with the ICC, a course that was particularly useful that day: the Political Economy of China, taught by Chunjuan Nancy Wei, associate professor and chair of IPED.

Wei’s influence on Bao has also extended beyond the classroom. “She has been extremely supportive of me in all my endeavors,” Bao said. Wei, who is her current faculty adviser, is in turn glowing in her comments about Bao: “Sidoine has a wonderfully positive attitude, an outstanding work ethic, and a clear sense of purpose. She surely has a very bright future ahead.”

Another important mentor for Bao has been Linda Hasunuma, her previous UB faculty adviser. “She has consistently believed in me, and encouraged me to dream big, even in opportunities like this internship,” Bao said. “Although it was really for grad students, she’s the one who told me, ‘just apply, you never know!’”

Bao explained, with an eloquence that marks all of her speech, the importance of the ICC, located in the Netherlands. “The court is designed to make sure that the world puts in place legal norms to say clearly that war crimes and human rights violations are not accepted, and those who commit these crimes will be held accountable.” She added, regarding her own interest in pursuing this internship, “I have long wanted to work in an intergovernmental organization that promotes human rights.”

During the course of her five-month position, she will be tasked with a variety of responsibilities; drafting and translating official documents, preparing for diplomatic visits, and organizing conferences, where she will also have the opportunity to hone her public speaking skills.

As Bao undertakes this memorable experience, we will also have the opportunity to follow along with her. She will send us a monthly update from The Hague that we will feature—so stay tuned!

Read monthly updates from Sidoine Bao by clicking on a photo below.