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Carthage student only undergraduate to present at global conference

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April 10, 2013

When applying to present her research at the International Journal of Arts and Sciences Multidisciplinary Conference, sophomore Allison Von Borstel had a problem.

“I was going through the options to sign up, and the form only listed ‘full-time faculty,’ ‘part-time faculty,’ ‘doctoral student,’ ‘graduate student,’ or ‘other,’” said the international political economy and economicsmajor from Orland Park, Ill. “So I just went with ‘other.’”

The reason Allison had to choose “other” is because she was the only undergraduate student selected to present at the conference held in Las Vegas March 18-22.

“It was great getting to talk with scholars from all around the world,” she said. “Hearing people talk about just barely making their flight in Shanghai or about their layover in Dubai was absolutely amazing. The experience of being in the company of an international body of scholars was phenomenal.”

If meeting scholars from across the globe was daunting, then getting up and presenting in front of them was downright overwhelming.

“While waiting for my turn to present, I must have practiced a million times in my head,” she said. “It felt bigger than life with so much pressure. I was nervous, but at the same time excited. After a while I just decided to embrace it.”

Her presentation was titled “Smudged Lines: An Analysis of the Border Dispute of North Kosovo.” The talk focused on the instability and ethnic conflict that has faced the Balkan region for decades. She decided to research Kosovo because she was interested in conflict between ethnic groups. She originally considered studying the history of disputes between India and Pakistan, but in the end selected Kosovo because there was more work to do.

“Everyone knows about the history of Pakistan and India, so I wanted to do something else,” she remarked. “The conflict there may seem small to us, but it’s absolutely the biggest thing going on in their lives and something they face every day.”

Not only did Allison get to present her research, but she received some tips and advice from scholars who have seen the conflict firsthand. Those tips can lead to some new avenues of research. A scholar from Serbia warned her of cultural taboos that she should avoid should her research ever take her to the region. He also brought up the issue of literacy rates in the region and how they could contribute to the continuation of the conflict. She will consider both issues as she continues her research.

In addition to presenting at the conference, Allison’s research will be published in the International Journal of Arts and Sciences this December.

Getting published is not the only exciting thing happening to Allison in the near future. This coming fall, she will study at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. After that, she will start exploring graduate schools. Not bad for someone who had to check the ‘other’ box.