Virginia Hugo-Vidal: International affairs, political science student studies in Kosovo

Virginia Hugo-Vidal had the opportunity this summer to study abroad in Kosovo through the Rochester Institute of Technology’s Kosovo Peace and Conflict Summer Program.

The sophomore international affairs and political science double major, of Buxton, Maine, spent a month in Kosovo, taking classes and attending seminars on topics like the Balkan Wars of the 1990s, United Nations peacekeeping missions and international humanitarian aid missions. 

“The whole program was memorable. It started with a week-long tour around the former Yugoslavia in order to get context for our studies,” says Hugo-Vidal. “Visiting places that I had only read about, particularly Srebrenica and Sarajevo, and meeting people who survived atrocities I had studied was deeply emotional and moving.”

She says other memorable moments included getting lost on the Croatian bus system, being stranded on the side of the Serbian highway when the bus broke down, and being taught by professors who were involved in Kosovo during and immediately after the conflicts of the ’90s. 

“Notably, one of my professors was Len Hawley, who wrote UN Security Council Resolution 1244, which created Kosovo as it exists today and was a landmark resolution in the exercise of UN Security Council power,” she says. 

“I have been interested in politics since my childhood, when my whole family would watch the State of the Union every year and then my father would have me debrief it to him to make sure I understood it,” says Hugo-Vidal, who also is in the Honors College. “International affairs is the broadest possible scope of this interest and therefore allows me to help the most people.”

At UMaine, she says, “I adore being able to get a spectacular education while still being able to give back to my beloved state of Maine. Plus the hockey games are super fun.” Hugo-Vidal also is involved with the sorority Tri Delta, and enjoys the classic college pastimes of Netflix, naps and eating pasta at York Dining.

For other students interested in studying abroad, Hugo-Vidal recommends they apply for the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, which helped fund her experience in Kosovo and is available for summer, semester and full year programs. 

Contact: Cleo Barker, 207.581.3729