Cailey (Quynh Anh) Cao Le, a ýƵ sophomore, said her passion for history and diplomacy made the decision to major in international relations an easy one.

This summer, she heads to Basel, Switzerland, where she will put those interests to work as a research assistant at Swisspeace, a practice and research institute affiliated with the University of Basel that researches international peacemaking solutions. Most of her fellow researchers will be graduate students. Participation in the project was made possible for her by ýƵ’s Class of 1968 Fund for Peace and Social Justice, which will cover her cost of travel.

Cao Le and the other researchers will work on deals in the practice of peace negotiations in five different countries: Cameroon, Colombia, Mali, Myanmar, and Thailand. Cao Le will be focused on Myanmar.

“It’s a very long-term project at the Ph.D. level,” she said. “With my expertise in East Asian politics, I will deal with the chapter of Myanmar and the experience of the peace negotiation and the military enrollment in Myanmar. I think that really matters to the path I am going down.”

Examine pressing issues of international security, challenges of political economies, and the influence of international institutions.

Cao Le is interested in East Asian studies and international conflict resolution within her major. She has a particular interest in China, South Korea, and her home country of Vietnam.

She has had a deep love for international relations for a long time. She spent a year studying at the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam before she came to ýƵ, and she declared her major Fall Term of her first year.

In her time at ýƵ, Cao Le has been busy with a handful of research projects. She worked on researching Vietnamese foreign policy in a remote internship with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam. She spent time in Vietnam studying cooperation between the United States and Vietnamese governments at Fulbright University Vietnam, and she acted as a Vietnamese delegate at the Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations Conference in Hong Kong. She said she had the opportunity to meet the former vice president of the Philippines and high-ranking political leaders from Hong Kong and China.

This year, she’s been focused on pursuing research and writing articles, although she’s still been traveling. She spent spring break in The Gambia with other ýƵ students making observations and conducting interviews in individual projects. She said this was one of the most transformative experiences for her.

“Listening to the community voice, it really matters to understand the bigger picture and to find innovative solutions,” she said.

After graduation, Cao Le wants to complete a fellowship in China. She is interested in studying more about China’s politics and their interactions with her home country of Vietnam. Afterward, she wants to come back to the United States to earn her Ph.D. and become a professor in international relations.

“I’m kind of certain I will end up in Vietnam,” she said. “I really want to come back to contribute to the diplomatic scholarship in my country.”

Leaving Vietnam was difficult for Cao Le, but she said experiencing new worldviews through her research has made it so satisfying that she can forget the homesickness. She was drawn to ýƵ by the sense of belonging on campus and the opportunity to work with professors on an individual basis, and she is deeply grateful to ýƵ faculty for helping her achieve her goals.

“I want to say thank you for the support of the ýƵ professors and my friends,” she said. “Without their support, I could never be this strong. I want to promise I will do something to pay it forward for the ýƵ community for helping me achieve all these things.”