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Graduation MIRD Class of 2022: Students in the spotlight

On Monday, 4 July 2022, the graduation of the two-year Advanced MSc International Relations and Diplomacy (MIRD) programme was commemorated in the iconic Academy Building in Leiden. Students and guests were welcomed by the Program Director, Professor Madeleine Hosli.

This graduation ceremony was the biggest cohort yet of the program, with students successfully completing the program despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. It was a lively event where students, staff, volunteers, and guests could celebrate without pandemic restrictions. Notably the second speech of the ceremony delivered by the Chair of the Board of Examiners, Professor Jan Melissen commented on how it was the first time he met some of the students off-screen from his ‘Diplomacy: Introduction to Theory and Practice’ Course. The excitement to meet in person and celebrate the achievements of the students was palpable from the beginning to the end of the day.  

Professor Hosli: ‘What a strange phase it has been in which you attended our program. Starting in 2020 – when the COVID-19 pandemic had hit – going through a series of lockdowns, openings and closings of educational facilities and all else in your daily lives. As a program, we tried to offer as much as we could – eventually with visits in person to Brussels in June, and Geneva in March. I heard the new dates for the trips with beautiful sunny days ended up much better than originally planned.’

Student Speeches to a Global Audience 

The ceremony was purposely organized in a way that the students would be in the spotlight. Each student took the stage to deliver their short speech as they were awarded their diploma. Students shared their thesis topics with the audience covering areas of Climate Issues, Geopolitics, Arms & Military Strategy, Post-War Topics, Gender, Media Discourse, Diplomacy and Foreign Policy. Professional accomplishments were also highlighted with internship placements in ministries, NGOs and academia.

The most fascinating aspect of the ceremony was the multilingualism. The MIRD program’s diversity was amplified as students spoke both in English and their native languages for their loved ones in the building and also for those following the livestream online. The languages covered a global range: Dutch, German, Italian, Romanian, Norwegian, Finnish, Mandarin, Tibetic, Urdu, and Arabic. The common thread in these messages was one of appreciation to those who supported and encouraged them over the two years. As one student noted he grew to appreciate both his family abroad and his MIRD family in the Netherlands.

Leadership of the IRSA Board Members

The leadership and drive of the International Relations Study Association (IRSA) Board Members has been impressive in the past year. To take on the responsibilities as an IRSA representative requires an impressive level of commitment to the program and its students. During the pandemic, IRSA took the initiative to address pandemic-related issues of the students by creating a specific position with an appointed spokesperson. Such initiative is symbolic of the empathy and commitment that IRSA leaders have for their fellow students. Fast-forward to last month, the IRSA Board ended the year strongly with a large-scale Gala event hosting distinguished speaker Prof. Athar Sultan-Khan, the Special Advisor on Diplomatic Matters to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), students, faculty, and alumni from previous years.

President Vincenzo Tripodo and Vice President Ioana Murgoci: ‘Each one of us came into this programme from different experiences and backgrounds. For some, it was the first time leaving their native country. For others, it was the start of a new journey in a completely new field, or the first experience when you had to balance studies with work or a second masters, personal life and other passions and dreams. Regardless of the challenges, from the beginning this group showed solidarity with one another and strength in spite of the well known uncertainties of the pandemic. We believe this is something we should all be proud of and not take for granted.’

Class of 2022

The ceremony culminated in the special moment where students move their tassel symbolizing their graduation and toss their caps into the air. They then joined their loved ones for a reception in the distinguished Faculty Club and were allowed to add their signatures to the ‘Sweat Room’ next to famous names from the Dutch Royal Family, Nelson Mandela, and others.

Images: Arash Nikkhah
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