Thea Kassas graduated from George Mason University with a Master’s degree in Global Affairs and a specialization in Global Conflict and Security in May 2022. In her last semester with George Mason, Thea had an externship with the Mediation Office at the International Monetary Fund, where she experienced work with multilateral organizations, and learned more about different dispute resolution systems.
The externship program with the Mediation Office at IMF provided the opportunity to learn more about the day-to-day systemic issues within the organization and the different tools the Mediation Office at the IMF uses to tackle and solve these issues. By joining discussions and townhalls, assisting in drafting and editing the Mediation Office’s Annual report and website content, and co-facilitating training sessions on the various dispute resolution systems, Thea practiced facilitation and conflict management skills that she gained through her specialization courses.
Thea’s experience with Global Affairs was further complemented by the conferences and meetings she had the opportunity to attend as part of being an extern with the IMF. These conferences covered a wide range of topics from gender inequality, to education, sustainable growth, climate change, and challenges to growth, security, and stability, discussed by international leaders, ministers, experts, and academics. One of the conversations she enjoyed the most is an IMF inspired conversation between the IMF Managing Director, Kristalina Georgieva, and Malala Yousafzai on how to improve gender equality and break down barriers to girls’ education and women’s empowerment. She was also very interested in attending the conference organized by the World Bank, Addressing Challenges to Growth, Security, and Stability, given its relevancy to the Risk and Resilience Report she developed in GLOA 720 (the research capstone seminar required for the MA).
Although her experience with the Mediation Office was mainly virtual, Thea’s involvement across different issues, including mental health strategies promoting a healthy work-life balance and facilitation and mediation, has helped her identify an overlapping interest in dispute resolution and peacebuilding across intra-organizational as well as international and political conflicts. Aspiring to become an expert in the peacebuilding field as a conflict analyst and mediation practitioner, Thea will start her next adventure and seek opportunities with international organizations focusing on peacebuilding and conflict resolution.
As a person who started their career path in Translation in Beirut, then worked in Supply Chain and Management in Shanghai, she didn’t take a straightforward route in her career. It is through exploration and traveling that she found her path. She says, “Life is very unpredictable and will present opportunities that you never thought of. Before Global Affairs and IMF, I studied Translation and International Business, and moved from Lebanon to China to the D.C. area. I took so many turns before finding the career path I am most passionate about, but every step of the way, I was growing and learning something new – a skill or experience that would help me later on. My advice to every student who is trying to find their path, is to seize every opportunity that is offered to you, take on new challenges, and seek help and advice, you will be surprised how many people are willing to help along the way.”
May 19, 2022