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On board the peace boat

Eve Isambourg, a third-year Sciences Po student, launched the #ISpeakBlueToo movement, and this summer spoke at the United Nations as an Ocean Ambassador
  • Eve Isambourg, Ocean Ambassador ©Eve IsambourgEve Isambourg, Ocean Ambassador ©Eve Isambourg

This week is Oceans Week at Sciences Po and alongside a series of events on the topic, we spoke to Eve Isambourg, a third year undergraduate student and ocean activist. After two years of study at the Sciences Po Paris campus, Eve spent her third year abroad raising awareness of oceanic issues around the world. The last stop on her mission: a conference of the UN in New York.

“If someone had told me,"Eve, this summer you will be speaking at the UN to defend the ocean," I would never have believed it. But, it turns out that the most unexpected paths open up to those who fight to achieve it, and then, meetings multiply, opportunities arise, projects are born, and the virtuous circle is engaged.”

A few months ago, Eve Isambourg was still a second-year student taking her exams in environmental governance and oceanic issues. Last May she decided that she would spend her third year abroad on a mission she would dedicate to the planet. It was on Twitter that Eve launched the #IspeakBlueToo movement, in support of International Ocean Day, on 8 June, 2018. Several thousand people raised their voices for a global cause, to stand up for the blue planet that we inhabit. Today the #IspeakBlueToo movement is a growing human wave, a community of actors who are committed to protecting the oceans.

"When we hear that in 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans, yes, that worries me. But above all, it makes me want to raise my voice and take action!"

Of French origin, Eve grew up in Mauritius, and it is there that she first got involved with humanitarian work, by working as an intern for the local Let's Do It Foundation. She was put in charge of communications and public relations for the WorldCleanUpDay 2018, an event that received international attention on 15 September. More than 15 million people, gloves and bags in hand, united to clean up the planet. In Mauritius, more than 8000 people committed to more than 70 clean-ups, a first for the small Indian Ocean island! During that time, Eve received a phone call announcing that she had been selected to become an "Ocean & Climate Youth Ambassador" aboard the Peace Boat.

The Ocean and Climate Youth Ambassadors - A Short Film by Peace Boat from Peace Boat on Vimeo.

"After some internet research, it did not take me very long to understand that I needed to seize this unique opportunity! I am lucky to have a family and parents who support me in my projects and believe in me. So a few days later, I took off for Stockholm.” The programme: crossing the Atlantic, from Stockholm to New York, with stops in Copenhagen, Bergen, Reykjavik, and Halifax. There were seven young ambassadors of the Pacific Islands, the Indian Ocean and the Caribbean, there to raise their voices, to fight for justice. "When water rises, erosion is visible to the naked eye in front of our homes, so questioning climate change is not an option!"

On board, these young ambassadors had several jobs: "closed-session"  discussions amongst themselves on various topics (global warming, coral bleaching, the erosion of biodiversity, geostrategy of the seas, plastic pollution...); presentations and conferences for the passengers of the ship (more than 1000 passengers travel on the Peace Boat, which travels around the world in three and a half months.) On top of this, at each of the various ports on the journey, volunteers held meetings with local actors, both public and private, engaged in the fight for a healthy environment and a clean and preserved ocean. "The experience was enriching on both a human and intellectual level. With no internet connection for three weeks, I enjoyed living the moment, learning more and more, sharing, meeting, discovering, it was truly awe-inspiring... This voyage opened my eyes; I met dozens of positive and committed people! I am extremely grateful." After docking their ship at its final wharf, the Ocean Ambassadors set off for the UN with a mission: to speak at the High-Level Political Forum conference. There, the youth of today, adults of tomorrow, raised their voices in an urgent invitation to act and unite.

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120 Mastercard Scholars to study at Sciences Po

An exceptional scholarship programme for students from Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Sarah Indahy Malgasy student ©Sciences PoSarah Indahy Malgasy student ©Sciences Po

As of 2017, Sciences Po and the Mastercard Foundation provide full scholarships to students with great academic potential and limited financial resources. Over six years, this program will support 120 students from Sub-Saharan Africa admitted to its undergraduate, graduate and summer programs. This exceptional scholarship program aims to recruit talented students who aspire to shape the future of the African continent and help them develop their full potential.

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Student and parent: combining the two

Camille Viros, mother of three daughters, graduated in June 2018 with her Master’s degree from the School of Public Affairs
  • Camille Viros with her three children ©Camille VirosCamille Viros with her three children ©Camille Viros

Sciences Po is proud to be one of ten academic institutions selected by UN Women, the United Nations entity for gender equality and the empowerment of women, to act as a “HeforShe Champion”. As part of the annual HeforShe Summit on 26 September 2018, Director Frédéric Mion will discuss actions taken by Sciences Po to advance gender equality, specifically work accomplished by the university on the question of parenthood. To mark the occasion, we are sharing the inspiring story of one of our female students: Camille Viros, recent graduate of the Class of 2018, and  mother of three children. How does she balance her student and family life? Read the interview on her experience at Sciences Po.

You have just graduated from the Sciences Po School of Public Affairs, and you are also a parent. Does it feel like an even greater achievement to have combined the two?

I think I am a graduate like any other and I do not feel more special. It is true that studying and having children can be challenging at times, but everyone has his or her own special circumstances that can complicate and/or enrich being a student.

What has been the greatest challenge about being a parent and student? Were there some pleasant surprises? Were you supported by your peers?

The main challenge was probably juggling family obligations with three small children and a full-time master’s programme with all the constraints it can have (essays to write, group assignments to coordinate, exams to prepare). I found it was not so different than being a working mother, but with the added difficulty of often having to study after the children’s bedtime or during weekends. Once I had found the right balance between my personal and student life, it became much easier.

There were also many nice things about being a student and a parent. For example, my girls would love to tell their teachers and friends that their mum was also going to school. I was also able to organise my classes at Sciences Po to be able to pick my girls up from school most days, and could often make myself available to assist parent-teacher meetings at my girls’ school. I also felt supported by professors at Sciences Po. Once I had to take one of my girls to the emergency room the same day a paper was due. With my husband away on a business trip, it was impossible for me to finish my paper on time. I explained the situation to my professor and he gave me an extension. 

Are there preconceived ideas or stereotypes around student-parents?

I did not feel at all judged by other students and did not find there were any negative stereotypes about being a parent-student at Sciences Po. Other students were often surprised when I told them I had three children, but they never put me in an awkward position – quite the contrary. I think there are more positive stereotypes about parents than negative ones. Other students often suggested that parents are well organised, efficient, and able to multi-task. I also think students with children can help promote greater acceptance and understanding of parenthood in the workplace in general, by showing fellow students that parents can be just as successful.  

Did you meet other student-parents during your studies? Is there a community at Sciences Po?

Yes I did meet other parents during my year at Sciences Po. In my MPA (Master in Public Affairs) class of 27 people there were four other parents, two fathers and two mothers. It was really great to meet other people in the same situation as me and we often joked about our parenthood stories, like having to deal with a sleep-resistant child while trying to finish a paper for a midnight deadline. There is no official community per se but Sciences Po has a very active gender equality unit. It also organises a yearly event called “Sciences Mômes”, a Parent-Child Day when staff and students can bring their children to the Paris campus. Group reflection on parenting issues is also organised for this occasion. I think it is really great that Sciences Po organises such events and it certainly made me feel part of a community.

What advice would you give to future students who are also parents?

Be organised! Try to gather people around you that you can count on and who can be on call: your partner, a grandparent, a nanny, etc. If you want to follow a programme at Sciences Po, just give it a go and have no reservations about doing it with children. It will be intense and demanding, but you’ll manage and it will be one of the most enriching experiences of your life. And besides, Paris is a fantastic city for children, with lots of international schools, day-care services, and an amazing healthcare system. 
 Good luck! And don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need any help or advice!

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Experiencing the French Job Market

Meet Emily, a second year international student who balances her Master’s in Communications with an apprenticeship at a PR agency
  • Emily Olyarchuk: international student and apprentice ©Sciences PoEmily Olyarchuk: international student and apprentice ©Sciences Po

Emily Olyarchuk is a second-year Master’s student in Communications at the School of Management and Innovation and an apprentice at Burson Marsteller, a global PR agency with offices in Paris. We interviewed her on the benefits of gaining professional experience alongside studying and the process of finding an apprenticeship in France as an international student. Her advice: don’t be daunted!

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From Sciences Po to Fashion Design

Jingjing Fan, Sciences Po alumna turned fashion designer, discusses entrepreneurship
  • Jingjing Fan, founder and designer of Elleme ©Sciences PoJingjing Fan, founder and designer of Elleme ©Sciences Po

Since graduating from Sciences Po in 2011 with a Master's degree in Finance and Strategy, Jingjing Fan has been pursuing her lifelong passion in the fashion industry. She founded Elleme, a luxury accessories brand based in the Marais but with an outlook that is global. Hear more about her path from Sciences Po to haute couture.

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