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Colby-Sawyer Junior Presents Research at International Political Science Conference in Greece

History and Political Studies major Shangyu Yan '15 presented a research paper at the First World Congress of the International Association of Political Science Students (IAPSS) held in Thessaloniki, Greece from March 31 to April 4.

In keeping with the theme on Limits of Global Governance, Yan presented his research paper “Fleeing Motherland: The Ethnic Conflicts and Human Rights Violation Towards the Rohingya Muslim Minorities in Myanmar and the International Interventions.” He wrote the paper in December as part of a course on international human rights protection during his semester at the University of Salzburg in Austria. “I am honored, thrilled and grateful to have been able to attend [the conference] and present my paper in front of the academic panel,” Yan said. “The conference gave me an opportunity to meet hundreds of young, promising scholars from all over the world and establish amazing friendships.”

Yan's paper traces the history of the Rohingyas, a Muslim ethnic group in western Myanmar, and the human rights violations committed upon the group by Burmese authorities and other ethnic groups from the 1940s to present day. It also analyzes the attitudes of such governmental and non-governmental international organizations as the United Nations, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Human Rights Watch toward human rights violation and the challenges they face in solving related issues. The paper argues that international organizations are still weak in their influence over domestic human rights protection issues in such countries as Myanmar and have a long way to go to better protect those who live with similar situations around the globe.

Prior to the conference, Yan presented the paper in a class taught by Randall S. Hanson, professor of Social Sciences and Education and the David H. Winton Endowed Teaching Chair, at Colby-Sawyer. “I truly appreciate [Professor Hanson's] critiques and suggestions [on the paper], which polished the content and made it better,” Yan said. “He is not only my professor and adviser but also a good friend who has extended the teaching outside the classroom.

“This is exactly what I like about Colby-Sawyer,” Yan added. “[Students] get personal attention from faculty members who are always happy to give guidance and advice.” Yan was the only undergraduate student at the conference and the only student from an American institution.

“It felt great to represent Colby-Sawyer as the only student from the United States at the conference,” Yan said. “I enjoyed being a part of this international education experience and hope I'll be able to participate next year, too.”

Yan plans to go to graduate school and pursue a Ph.D. in political science with a focus on international relations and comparative politics after he graduates from Colby-Sawyer next spring.

- Anurup Upadhyay

Anurup Upadhyay is a business major at Colby-Sawyer College and a student writer for College Communications.

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