School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA)

By Yuxiu Lin

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain.

My one-year study at the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia University has come to an end as we had our Commencement ceremony on May 18th. This was the first in-person Commencement in three years and more excitingly, we had Hilary Clinton come to our Commencement to receive an honorary degree and she responded to our calls for her speech by sharing impromptu remarks!

For me, it was a year full of opportunities and growth. Every time when I talked with friends and colleagues that I am doing an internship at UN Women and working on a capstone project while being a full-time student, they were surprised at how I was able to manage time to work on so many things at the same time. Balancing all tasks and work is not easy, but these experiences became incredibly valuable and rewarding as I look back. In my internship, I have created and kept an updated contact database of 2700+ partners and helped on-time launch of big events at UN Women including International Women’s Day and Commission on Status of Women. My capstone team conducted research on the existing landscape of ESG sovereign risk providers and provided a recommendation for an alternative evaluation framework through a qualitative and quantitative methodology which allows us to identify five sovereigns with the most progress in environmental performance and policies that have contributed to strengthening their performance and draw inferrals from data to determine policy results.

This whole year makes me realize that we need to learn to adapt to the unexpectedness and move forward rather than passively standing still. The pandemic has lasted for more than three years and there is no clear future on when humanity can see an eradication of Covid-19. Simply waiting for Covid-19 to end is too impractical and instead we should learn to live with it while doing what we can including wearing masks and getting vaccination to minimize the possibility of getting infected. Life will go on regardless of whether we can eliminate the virus or not and history tells us that humans have demonstrated the ability to learn to well adapt to the environment thousands of years ago.

To conclude, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to Ito Foundation U.S.A and Friends of UTokyo, Inc., who enabled me to complete my education at Columbia University and have so much rewarding memory and satisfaction with my stay in New York. I am excited to see what life will bring to me next but my goal of helping address large social and environmental problems will never change. As our SIPA Dean Thomas Christensen said at the Commencement, SIPA graduates will not only do well but also do good in their future paths.

With my UN Women colleagues during our Generation Equality Retreat
With my Capstone Team for celebrating the end of our project
At SIPA Graduation Ceremony Reception
SIPA graduates holding SIPA flags and national flags on Commencement Day