Major in International and Comparative Politics

Fatimata-Atty Germaine Djibrine ’22

Fatimata-Atty Germaine Djibrine '22, who goes by Fatima, is an AUP junior majoring in international and comparative politics with minors in international law and international business administration. In 2021, she took part in the Athens Democracy Forum, organized by the Democracy and Culture Foundation in association with the New York Times. 

How did you know that AUP was the place for you?

I've always been the type to work hard, but when I started looking for a university, I was adamant that the decision not be just about finding a high-quality education, but also about making the most of all kinds of opportunities that exist in college life. AUP stood out to me because it emphasized wider knowledge and skills. I felt like I could find personal growth and figure out who I was and what I wanted to do. There seemed to be many exciting opportunities to become a well-rounded person. AUP is a real melting pot for leaders. I’ve gained so much knowledge. I think our professors have done amazing things too. 

How did you hear about the Athens Democracy Forum, and what made you want to take part? 

The Center for Critical Democracy Studies (CCDS) sent out a mass email to all current students looking for submissions to the forum. I was curious, so I asked my professors Russell Williams and Stephen Sawyer more about it. They really took the time to explain the process to me, and the idea of a forum where students act as delegates and interact with world leaders speaking about important global topics really appealed to me, so I signed up. There was an application process that involved writing a paper and presenting a video on my chosen topic. The forum organizers chose 24 applicants from across all the universities that applied.  

Why did you choose to speak about climate change and the Global South? 

I became concerned about climate change a few semesters ago. At first, I worried it was a Western concept and not something that affected the Global South. I was quite wrong! I realized that in my home country of Niger there are huge climate issues. The Global South is where climate change is most significant, but there’s little clarity about it and few people helping. I thought that somebody needed to shed light on the damage happening in nations that don’t have a voice. 

What was it like attending the conference in Athens? 

The panel during which my video aired was called “Wake Up to the Climate Crisis.” My video was about finding sustainable policies that are inclusive of all nations or that can be contextualized and adapted almost anywhere. I got to ask questions to panelists including Liz Alderman, who is Chief European Business Correspondent for the New York Times, and Ivan Tse, who heads the Tse Foundation. I got to meet so many passionate people from different nationalities. Plus, I loved Greece! Athens was really beautiful.  

What do you think needs to change to make climate change policy more inclusive? 

There are solutions being discussed, such as electric cars or redesigning architecture, that just aren’t applicable to the Global South. Some countries don’t have sufficient electricity coverage for the whole population. I understand that it is hard for people not from those nations to find solutions, so I think it’s also a question of representation and inclusivity: putting the right people at the table, so they can find solutions pertaining to their own nations.  

What were your main takeaways from the forum? 

It allowed me to stop looking for responsibility elsewhere and to start acting for myself. It’s reinforced my confidence and made me much more active in terms of seeking out opportunities and helping others. I had people approaching me wanting to talk because of my video, so I got lots of contacts from people who work on great initiatives. I’m invited to another conference in Rome in October, this time as a speaker. The organizers want youth representatives to speak about the kinds of climate change solutions they would like to see. I’m really looking forward to it!