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A healthy passion for helping others

Meet Ashale Chi, a student on the Reims campus
  • Ashale Chi ©Didier PazeryAshale Chi ©Didier Pazery

Ashale Chi from Cameroon is part of the first cohort of MasterCard Foundation Scholars at Sciences Po. Ashale talked to us about her first months in the Europe-Africa programme on the Sciences Po campus in Reims and her healthy passion for helping others.

You started classes on the Reims campus in early September. What are your first impressions?

These first few months have been quite hectic. I have courses in French and English, and I'm taking French language classes as well. I like it because I'm really improving my level of French, but it's also hard because I have to learn over in French all the notions that I already mastered in English.

Overall, studying here requires a lot of rigor, a bit like the International Baccalaureate. I have an essay to do every week, required readings in almost every subject, and the lecturers also give us bibliographies to study the topics in more depth, so it's a lot of work. But the good news is that I'll be bilingual when I leave Sciences Po, so overall I'm adapting!  Plus, the resources available to students are amazing and the students are very supportive of each other, so there is a lot of help on campus.

You're a volunteer at Cordées de la Réussite*. What do you like about this association?

I like volunteer work; I like helping others. It comes naturally to me so I don't have to make a particular effort. On the contrary, it does me good! Our relationship with the middle school students at Cordées de la Réussite is very friendly, it's a real relationship of trust. For example, we go to the movies with them, then at our Monday meetings we share our ideas about the film through creative workshops. We encourage them to talk about the film through their creative project. I really get a lot out of the relationship.

You were a volunteer for the Red Cross in Cameroon and you want to join the Red Cross in Reims. Where does this commitment come from?

Four years ago, there was an epidemic in Cameroon and my father fell ill. Finding treatment for him was very complicated and I realised just how outdated the organisation of healthcare is in Cameroon. There is a lot that needs to be done to ensure that if an epidemic hits, for example, the population is informed, treated and reassured. That was when I developed an interest in healthcare. I really want to be a part of developing the health system in Cameroon. Right now that is the type of meaningful career I'm aiming for after my studies.

* "Cordées de la réussite" aims to promote young people's access to higher education, whatever their socio-cultural background, by giving them the means and drive to get into top academic programme.

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"As arbitration practitioners, we have a duty to take part in institution building"

  • Leia Shin in ParisLeia Shin in Paris

After four years of working as a lawyer in international arbitration and cross-border litigation, Leia Shin (33) decided that it was time to take her expertise to the next level. She left Lee & Ko, the second largest law firm in Seoul, to begin an LLM in Transnational Arbitration & Dispute Settlement at the Sciences Po Law School in Paris.

Why did you make the decision to come back to university after four years of professional experience?

I have been working as a lawyer since 2013, mainly in the field of international arbitration and cross-border disputes. Working as an associate in a major law firm, I was able to gain extensive experience in dispute resolution, representing international clients and pleading in front of international arbitral tribunals and courts. 

While practicing law, investment disputes became a special interest of mine and I wanted to learn more about this specialised field. However, since the practice is monopolised by a small circle of experts operating mainly in Europe and the US, it was difficult to gain experience in this field within the Korean legal market.   
So I decided to expand my practice, which had been mainly confined to the Asia-Pacific region, to the wider global arbitration community. I naturally looked abroad with a special focus on Europe, since it is home to prominent arbitral institutions such as the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) or the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

Why was Sciences Po your university of choice?

When I started looking, I considered options in different parts of the world - there were well known programmes in arbitration in the United States, UK and Switzerland, for example. 
But I wanted something different and unique that would compliment my experience in a way that the other programmes could not. When I heard about Sciences Po’s new LLM programme in Transnational Arbitration, I knew I had found the answer.

Sciences Po was an obvious choice for me because I know of its standing in French society. Also, since I spent most of my teenage years in Paris, I am wired to the French way of thinking and understand the particular values of the French approach to education, which I characterise as a balance between philosophy and practicality. I find that the “Frenchness” of the programme complements the transnational character of international arbitration perfectly, and gives practitioners the chance to develop a broader and deeper perspective in this field.  

Two months into the programme, what are your impressions?

I am really enjoying the daily inspiration I get from my lecturers and colleagues. My LLM colleagues are a mixed group of civil law lawyers and common law lawyers from all over the world and of different ages (predominantly in their 20s and 30s but also in their 60s!). Since we are a small group of 13, we bonded quickly and have become like a little family. We all bring something from our own jurisdiction so it feels like we are building a small hub of international arbitration practitioners of our own. 
Another big advantage is that we have direct access to leading practitioners and academics. The programme invites inspiring figures such as Emmanuel Gaillard, Alain Pellet, Gary Born, Franco Ferrari and many others. Through this programme, we are given  access to the inner circle of arbitration and get to pick the brains of the giants in the field. As they say, we get to “stand on the giant’s shoulders and see the world.”

What values could this programme bring to current practitioners in arbitration?  

The programme provides a wider spectrum of disciplines than anywhere else. Especially, it has a strong academic approach which lets you take a step back and think about the field of arbitration in terms of values. We study fundamental disciplines such as public international law, international criminal law and philosophy of arbitration on top of the more practical subjects focusing on specific types of disputes (investment arbitration, energy disputes, sports arbitration etc.)

I personally believe that to go to the next level as a practitioner in arbitration, you need a deeper academic grounding.  Although a lot of arbitration lawyers obsess over a “specialisation” in a narrower and a more specific type of dispute, what makes the practice of arbitration stronger and more durable is an effort to look at it from the perspective of institution building. This is even more important given the transnational and independent character of arbitration which is not rooted in a specific jurisdiction or judicial system. I think that as arbitration practitioners, we have a duty to take part in institution building as much as the day-to-day management of disputes.

What are your plans after the LLM at Sciences Po?

I plan to spend some years working in Paris or Europe to gain more experience in the field of investment disputes. There are a number of law firms that are very active in this field, such as White & Case or King & Spalding.  I also hope to have an opportunity to work in major institutions that handle investment disputes, such as the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague or the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in Washington DC.

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So It Begins

Take a tour of our undergraduate campuses
  • Students on the Sciences Po campus in Reims ©Sciences PoStudents on the Sciences Po campus in Reims ©Sciences Po

Sciences Po undergraduates have just started their academic year at the Sciences Po Undergraduate College. These students come from many different backgrounds and they each have their own story to tell about their journey to our university. Why did they choose Sciences Po? What are their ambitions? Take a tour of our undergraduate campuses in France and meet the students.

About the Sciences Po Undergraduate College

Sciences Po offers a three-year Bachelor of Arts degree with a multidisciplinary foundation in the humanities and social sciences and an emphasis on civic, linguistic, artistic and digital education. Undergraduates spend their first two years on a Sciences Po campus before pursuing their third and final year at one of Sciences Po’s 470 partner universities abroad. They can choose to complement this international academic experience with an internship. The degree culminates with a capstone project.

On each of the campuses, undergraduate students are introduced to the disciplines and methods taught at Sciences Po–economics, history, humanities, law, political science, and sociology. Certain courses are related to the regional concentrations offered on each campus. Find out more about education at the Sciences Po Undergradate College.

Visit our Undergraduate College campuses

Open days 2017
  • Open days at Sciences PoOpen days at Sciences Po

Are you a high school student wanting to apply to Sciences Po? Open Days are being held on the six Undergraduate College campuses. Come and find answers to all your questions about the Sciences Po Bachelor of Arts programme and learn more about life on campus. Make the most of this unique opportunity to talk to students, faculty and academic advisors.

Follow the events on twitter with the hashtag #ScPoJPO

Save the dates

Prepare your visit

Related link

  • What Bachelor's graduates take away from their studies at Sciences Po. Watch the video.

Headed for an EU Career

Meet the first recipient of the Stephen M. Kellen scholarship
  • Licinia Güttel is the first recipient of the Stephen M. Kellen scholarshipLicinia Güttel is the first recipient of the Stephen M. Kellen scholarship

Licinia Güttel, 19, was born and raised near the small town of Koblenz, Germany. After graduating with honours from Werner Heisenberg Gymnasium Neuwied, she enrolled to study for the Sciences Po-Freie Universität Berlin dual Bachelor’s degree in political and social sciences. She is also the first recipient of the Stephen M. Kellen scholarship, a dedicated scholarship for students on the Sciences Po-Freie Universität Berlin dual BA programme.

Licinia has just started studying on the Sciences Po campus in Nancy, and will spend years 3 and 4 of the programme at Freie Universität Berlin's Otto-Suhr-Institut für Politikwissenschaft. In the video she shares her reasons for choosing Sciences Po, her first impressions of the programme and her plans for the future.

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