Semester in Washington
Meet James Do, Alumnus of Georgetown’s Semester in Washington program
Where did you grow up?
I grew up close to New York City in a town called Bayonne, NJ. I was raised in a Korean American household where I learned to speak Korean with my family. My parents came to the US with little to no money and were able to set up a business with the help of a few friends and relatives.
What made you choose Georgetown’s Semester in Washington program?
I chose Georgetown's Semester in Washington program because I knew that Washington DC was where I wanted to work in the future. I had heard about Georgetown University's academic excellence and the wonderful network it provides to its alumni. I knew that an education at Georgetown would help me stand above the rest and provide me with a strong academic foundation as well as bringing a lasting networking base. As a result, I felt as though Georgetown's Semester in Washington program suited my interests and career goals perfectly.
What was your concentration area?
My concentration was International Relations with the focus on Eastern Asia. During my undergraduate studies at Rutgers, I studied abroad in Germany to better understand the challenges and consequences of the German unification; I wanted to learn about it in the context a possible unification of the Korean peninsula. At Georgetown's Semester in Washington program, I was able to research and measure North Korean aggression through events of the past twenty years and compose an academic paper correlating aggression with domestic struggles. Currently, I am studying and researching 21st century China. Since living in China last year, I have developed an interest in China's domestic struggles and its strength as a rising world power.
What did you like best?
The best part of the Semester in Washington program was the opportunity to interact with Georgetown students and become involved on campus. I joined Georgetown University's "Truth and Human Rights in North Korea" (THiNK) club, the International Relations club, and Georgetown University's renown Foreign Service fraternity. I was able to attend amazing lectures presented by public figures such as Rudy Giuliani, Ron Paul, Saudi Prince Turkei bin Faisal Al Saud and Hillary Clinton. I don't think I would have able to do anything similar if I had not attended SWP.
What have you been up to since?
After finishing the program in Winter 2011, I stayed in Washington for six more months to intern at the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea. I was able to meet with experts and professionals in my field of study including Victor Cha, Robert King, Andrew Natsios, Roberta Cohen, General Walter Sharpe and countless others. When I left DC in the summer of 2012, I began teaching English to university students and businessmen in Shanghai, China. In addition, I was able to travel extensively throughout East and Southeast Asia. After that, I joined the Peace Corps as a Youth Development Volunteer and I am currently serving in Morocco.
How did Georgetown's SWP prepare you for that role/challenge?
SWP not only prepared me for graduate school level research and study, but also taught me how to become a more well-rounded intellectual person. Professor Potolicchio's classes helped me understand what graduate school instructors want in terms of papers and research. He pushed us to think outside the box and taught us to be good researchers and critical thinkers. When you live in DC, you meet a plethora of different people from different professional fields. SWP not only exposed me to these people, but taught me how to make a lasting impression when talking to them. My professors encouraged me to ask questions that were thought-provoking and meaningful.
What advice would you give to current SWP participants to help them get the most out of their experience?
Go out onto campus and meet as many people as you can. Seriously. Studying at Georgetown is a special privilege and being on campus is a special honor. Attend as many meetings and lectures as you can, join the Model UN team (where Georgetown is ranked 1st in the nation), and reach out to a professor for advice and conversation. Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama speak at Georgetown regularly and even Vice President Joe Biden goes to mass at Georgetown every Sunday. There is so much you can do. Don't close yourself off to just your SWP classmates and your dorm.
What was your favorite DC place to eat?
Nando's Piri Piri Chicken in Dupont Circle
… and to exercise?
Walking from Georgetown all the way around the National Mall
… and to learn?
The countless academic lectures and open meetings around campus and in town
… and to hang out?
Adam's Morgan or U Street