Student Blog – Catherine Kirby | My Experience at the Tower Center

My Experience at the John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies


Being introduced to the John Goodwin Tower Center was the best thing that has ever happened to me. I was introduced to the Tower Center by my teacher and mentor, Mrs. Jieun Pyun, when we met at a Korean speech contest. Over the past six months, I have attended two fantastic events, and my experiences at them have changed my life.

The first event I attended was the Sun & Star Symposium: Asia’s Contested Waters: The East China and South China Sea. I listened to the wonderful presentations of six professors. The first three spoke about the history of conflict over resources in the East and South China Seas, and the next three talked about the politics of territorial disputes. Through this event, the Tower Center helped me further develop my interest in the history and relations among Asian countries; I was able to learn relevant information about the area I am interested in. Additionally, while attending the events, I met many people with whom I share similar interests which was a great opportunity for me.

Without the Tower Center and its wonderful events, I would never have been able to meet Dr. Muscolino. As a result of my experience at the Tower Center, I read the publications of the various professors I had heard speak including those of Dr. Micah Muscolino who is a professor of Global Environmental Studies, Chinese Environmental History, Modern China and the Pacific World at Georgetown. Because I was going to be in Washington D.C. over Thanksgiving break, I was able to arrange a meeting with him. I had a lot of questions about what I had read, and I used the opportunity in Washington D.C. to see if Dr. Muscolino were available to speak with me. Dr. Muscolino graciously obliged, and I talked with him for about an hour about subjects from China’s environmental history to his own personal story. This was an amazing experience and thrilling opportunity for me. I couldn’t believe that a college professor would be willing to meet a young inexperienced high school student and discuss his work. Also, it made me less anxious about attending college in two years. To know that professors were kind and approachable greatly comforted me. I learned so much about the history of international relations, environmental history, and possible career choices, and it motivated me to further dedicate myself to studying foreign language and affairs. Dr. Muscolino also provided me with a book that I greatly treasure, Lost Names, a story set during the Japanese occupation of Korea; I would recommend this book to anyone.

The second event I attended was U.S., South and North Korea: What the Future Holds. This event was of particular interest to me because I have been studying Korean language, culture, and history for three years. Thanks to this event, I had the opportunity to meet people who actually work and teach in the field in which I am interested. The two speakers were Dr. Han Park and Dr. Victor Cha, experts on North Korea. The questions asked to both professors were very relevant, and they allowed for interesting discussions. It was so fascinating to learn about the five different possible methods of reunification outlined by Dr. Park, and the practicality and desirability of reunification by Dr. Cha. After the event was over, I greeted and talked with many of the other attendees, and I was thrilled that I met people who remembered me from the previous event. I was even able to talk to Dr. Cha, and I got him to sign my book. I was also fortunate enough to converse with the consulate general and the administrative head of the Dallas Korean Consulate as well.

The environment created by the Tower Center was very welcoming, and it has allowed me to grow as a person. I plan to pursue international relations in the future, and the Tower Center has successfully introduced me to the academics of this study area. I hope that someday the knowledge I have gained from my experience at the Tower Center can be used to promote and create the best foreign policy for the United States.

– Catherine Kirby, Senior at the Hockaday School in Dallas

catherineCatherine will be a senior at the Hockaday School in Dallas, Texas next year. She will graduate in May 2015. Catherine has attended Tower Center events since last September, and she looks forward to continuing her relationship with the Tower Center. Catherine wants to pursue international relations and international business in college, and she hopes to become involved in foreign affairs.