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Leading across cultures: Seattle meets Ukraine

November 22, 2016

Photo credit: America House Kyiv

Meet Christi Anne Hofland, a Jackson School alumna using her passion for increasing cultural and educational understanding across borders.

“The Jackson School provided me with the language skills, understanding of international affairs, and deep regional knowledge critical to my position at the forefront of U.S. public diplomacy in Ukraine as the Director of America House Kyiv, the U.S. Embassy’s flagship outreach and educational platform in Kyiv, Ukraine,” she wrote from Ukraine this summer.

In 2015, Hofland earned a master’s degree in international studies from the Jackson School and a master’s in public in administration from the Evans School at UW.

In this Q&A she talks about how studying at the School’s Ellison Center for Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies program boosted her opportunities and, ultimately, current career focused on boosting U.S.-Ukrainian educational and cultural understanding.

How does learning another language fit into your career? At the Jackson School I achieved more in languages than I had anticipated coming in. I maintained enrollment in Russian language each academic year, and in 2015 even added Polish courses. I spent my first summer of graduate school on a Critical Language Scholarship for intensive Russian in Ufa, Russia, and the second summer I received a Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship for intensive Ukrainian. I regularly use both in my work in Kyiv.

What have you achieved through the Jackson School? Beyond language training, I have built important networks through my Jackson School cohort and academic conferences. I have also found ways to contribute to the broader Seattle community by presenting at the Horizon House Retirement Center’s World Concerns Speaker Series, the World Affairs Council Global Classroom Teacher Workshop, and the Washington State Council for the Social Studies Annual Conference.

What opportunities at the Jackson School do you feel led to your current role? In summer 2014 I went to Ukraine for an internship in the public affairs section of the U.S. Embassy. The experience gave me a unique perspective on international activity and a chance to be at the front end of U.S. involvement in a crisis. This led me to my plans following graduation in spring 2015: to direct an American Center opening in Kyiv, Ukraine.

This dynamic initiative by the U.S. Embassy is designed to build mutual understanding between the U.S. and Ukraine through engaging educational and cultural platforms. I look forward to applying the nuanced and detailed area studies education I have gained at the Jackson school in a way that serves both American diplomacy and the Ukrainian community during this critical time in Ukraine’s history.

Other experiences while studying at the Jackson School that have given me invaluable preparation of how the Department of State works and collaboration with diplomatic missions and people from other cultures include an internship at the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv and the School’s Transatlantic Studies program at the University of Bath, where I encountered diverse perspectives on Transatlantic relations and Ukraine’s relationship with Europe and the U.S.

The Jackson School offers 10 different master’s degree options and a Ph.D. in International Studies. Sign up here for more information.

Applications are due January 11, 2017 for fall 2017 entry.