Humanitarian Nomad

When I arrived at AUP in August 2000, I was 18 years old, I had visited all of three countries, I could barely pull together a sentence in French, and if asked to find Cambodia on a map, I very well may have pointed to Africa. Now, almost 16 years later, I’ve lived in ten countries and visited over 90. I’ve learned three new languages and can muddle through in a few others. And I’ve worked in some of the most urgent humanitarian crises in the world. AUP set me on this path.

I spent four wonderful years at AUP. During that time I lived in four apartments in different neighborhoods in Paris and got to know the city so well that to this day I don’t need to look at a metro map to find my way around town. I arrived unsure of what I wanted to study, but I quickly settled into the International Communications program after enrolling in an introductory journalism class that inspired me to think about Africa, development, and the importance of the media in world affairs. In addition to journalism, I took classes on economics, international affairs, art history and French. My education at AUP prepared me professionally, but it also helped to shape me personally – exposing me to subjects and perspectives that are unique to such an international and diverse community. I learned about journalism in the meandering halls of Radio France International, I studied art history staring up at masterpieces in the Louvre, and my international affairs classes took me to the headquarters of NATO in Brussels. AUP gave me an experience that I couldn’t have had anywhere else, and it inspired me to continue to think and act globally after graduation.

AUP opened my eyes to a new world of possibilities and gave me the education, the skills and the drive to do the work that I do today. - Sean Casey

After AUP, I completed an MPhil in HIV/AIDS and Society from the University of Cape Town and moved to Washington, DC to take up my first job with an NGO. Because I spoke French, I was quickly deployed to Haiti for my first field assignment. After spending a few months there, I was transferred to Rwanda, where I worked on a large HIV/AIDS program. From Rwanda I moved back to the States, where I took on a global role with an NGO focusing on LGBT rights and HIV/AIDS programs, and later overseeing the organization’s entire international portfolio at the ripe old age of 28.  In 2011, I joined International Medical Corps, an NGO that has deployed me to lead some of the largest humanitarian responses of the past decade – from the cholera outbreak in Haiti, to conflicts in South Sudan and Mali, to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. With IMC, I’ve managed Cholera Treatment Centers and Ebola Treatment Units, set up field hospitals in the most remote corners of Africa, and flown in mobile medical units to Himalayan mountainsides following the earthquake in Nepal – which I survived myself, as I happened to have been there on vacation when it struck! 

Sean Casey

I am now based in Bangkok as Senior Global Operations Advisor with IMC, responding to humanitarian crises around the world. In the last 12 months, I’ve worked in Myanmar, Fiji, Tanzania, Senegal, Liberia, Guinea, Mali, Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau. None of this would have been possible without the education that I received at AUP, or without the drive towards humanitarian action that AUP ignited in me.

When I decided to go to AUP, I had no idea that I would end up in the humanitarian field – I didn’t really even know that it was an option! I chose AUP because I wanted an international experience and international exposure. I wanted to attend a small university, and to be part of an international mix of students (there were 800 students from 100 countries when I began at AUP). And, of course, Paris itself was quite a draw! I arrived in France in 2000 without a clue about the world, and I left speaking French, having a completely different worldview, and with friends from around the world. Paris gave me exposure that I would not have had anywhere else. Today, many of my best friends are still the friends I made at AUP. I’ve gone to AUP weddings in France, Serbia, the U.S. and Senegal, and I’ve run into AUP friends in Haiti, South Africa, Rwanda, Egypt, Dubai, South Korea, Japan, Mexico, Nepal, all over Europe, and even in a remote town the middle of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I occasionally even see my classmates on the news or in the pages of magazines. AUP gave me a global network that is simply unmatched.

Studying at AUP was an incredible experience – academically, personally, and culturally. AUP changed my perspective on what I could do with my life, so much so that I now can’t imagine doing anything else. AUP opened my eyes to a new world of possibilities and gave me the education, the skills and the drive to do the work that I do today. AUP can be transformational for those who have the opportunity to study there – it certainly was for me.

Photos courtesy of International Medical Corps

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