A Citizen of the World Heads to The Hague
Above: Sidoine Bao stands outside the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
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.
My first week at the International Criminal Court has been thrilling and instructive even though part of me expected it to be challenging. My experience was astonishingly smooth, and I was up to speed and contributing in no time. I had several misconceptions of the Court as an outsider coming in, but it has been completely refreshing to dive into a totally new world and really see what happens beneath the surface.
Upon arrival at the court, I was introduced to a high level of discretion in combination with confidentiality. The cultural diversity of this place was amazing to me, as was the friendly working environment. I must admit that studying at the University of Bridgeport, where there is a very diverse community, helped me to easily integrate.
During my first week at the ICC, I was quickly given several tasks. I mainly assisted the protocols and events unit to plan and orchestrate diplomatic visits and special events. Each event was driven by the expectation of diplomacy between the court and invited guests. In fact, two trials were held during the month of February.
The opening conference of the Al Hassan case (Mali) and the appeal trial of the former President of the Ivory Coast and his Youth Minister; both acquitted by the court and under conditional release since mid-January 2019. During these two trials that I attended, I was able to familiarize myself with major concepts of international criminal law and the steps involved in a trial process. Additionally, I offered oral translations to some visitors and met with emblematic figures of Ivorian politics, with whom I had the opportunity to briefly discuss certain challenges facing the country today.
UB celebrates the traditions, cultures, food, and languages of its multi-cultural student body for International Education Week from November 18 to 22.
UB students awarded Critical Language Scholarship by the U.S. Department of State
Two University of Bridgeport (UB) students, Diane Doodnauth, and Amy Siranaula, have been awarded the highly competitive Critical Language Scholarship (CLS), sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.