Hassan Javed

Undergraduate Student, Columbia University
  • Columbia University
  • People
  • United States of America

About Hassan Javed

I'm a freshman at Columbia University with passion for Economic Development and Political Service. I am educated under practical fieldwork in a rural American county, consular work for the Pakistani Government, and an intensive coursework of Mathematics, Political Science, and Economics courses. When I'm not reading away, you'll find me mentoring high school students navigating the college application process and revitalizing American history curriculums through the UnTextbooked podcast.

I am a/an:

Undergraduate Leadership & Research Scholar


Columbia University

Laidlaw Cohort Year


Research Topic

Economics Geography International Relations Politics Society & Culture Urban Planning

Area of Expertise

Economics Law Leadership Politics Social Sciences

I am from:


I speak:

English Hindi Urdu

My hobbies/interests are:

Art Cooking/Baking Film & TV Foreign languages Photography Podcasts Politics & current events Spirituality Travelling Video/filmmaking Volunteering

I am open to participating in mentoring/buddy programmes


Influencer Of

Popular Content


Rooms participated in:

Columbia University

Recent Comments

Jul 27, 2022
Replying to Eleanor Campbell

Week Three:
What does a typical day of your research/community engagement look like? Aside from a narrative description, upload a photo, video and/or other media submission!

Apologies that I'm a week late in writing this, but I think waiting will have paid off! This week I was finally able to start some WASH work in the field, so I'm hoping that this day is more representative of what I'll be doing for my last two weeks in Ghana.

The day here starts pretty early for college students! While many of the locals wake up even earlier, I generally wake up between 6 and 7 am, eat breakfast, and am ready for my manager to pick me up by 8:30. It's nice to have plenty of time getting ready in the morning! 

Then we ride on her motorbike to the office, which is not far from where I'm staying. We get organized for the day, and then she stays back at the office while I ride with a local volunteer (again by motorbike-that's really all anyone drives here!) to a nearby school. We spend a couple of hours there answering questions about menstrual health and asking the girls questions about how World Vision's menstrual hygiene management interventions have impacted them.

Then we might visit another school first or go eat lunch. After, I'll come back to the office and write down some notes on what we found and a plan on how we can improve interventions moving forward. 

Around 5 pm or so we pack up and head out for the day. I come back to my hotel room, do some exercise and talk to friends or family from home, take a much needed shower after being out in the field, and go to bed around 9 in preparation for another day!

I'm having trouble figuring out how to upload photos, but if anyone has any tips I'm all ears and would love to share some!

Hi Eleanor! Your work schedule sounds so amazing and balanced. Not gonna lie, I am slightly jealous you're able to be up so early because some days I am struggling to get up at 9am. I am so happy to hear you have an opportunity to interact with so many locals! For your work, do you re-visit the same group of schools to meet with different groups of students from there? Or do you visit new schools each day?

Jul 27, 2022

What challenges and/or difficulties have you encountered and how did you go about resolving them? Speak to a specific challenge you have encountered and some of the ways that you tackled the problem.

Has your research or work in a community to this point introduced you to any new fields or topics that are of interest to you?   How, if at all, has your work narrowed since the beginning of the project?

Apart from just adjusting to an entirely new country that I was not familiar with, one of the challenges that I encountered was with writing policy briefs. It's surprising because despite it being 90% of my internship work, I had never written a policy brief before this summer. So the first few drafts were full of mistakes and structural edits, and I'm not even going to lie, halfway through my second draft, I was ready to give up and ask for another internship assignment that didn't require such a niche expertise of writing.                                              

But, eventually, I decided to push through and tackle the problem by asking for help and my manager to guide me through all of the edits she suggested. In fact, the legal advocacy aspect of my work responsibility has exclusively begin to narrow on policy briefs. Now, with guidance and practice, I've become proficient enough in writing policy briefs that I'm able to help other interns out with it. And through writing numerous briefs, I've been introduced to so many new topics that I have come to find interesting that I was completely unaware of previously, including how the European Union is introducing restorative judicial strategies for detained migrants. 

Jul 27, 2022
Replying to Eleanor Campbell

Week Five:
What new skills and/or knowledge have you gained from your summer experience? Have you met anyone who has been instrumental in shaping/helping you conduct your project? Briefly, how has this person impacted you? What have you learned about leadership from this individual, and how might it influence your actions, work, and self in the future?

Other people have touched on the language barrier being something they've struggled with and adapted to during their time away. Although I would have with other countries, I didn't think about it much before coming to Ghana since I knew the official language is English. Even so, I've been surprised by how difficult communication can be here at times. It has nothing on a country where the official language is something other than English but still has taken some adjustment. Many of the young children or adults who never went to school speak only their native language (usually Gonja). There's not much to do about the language barrier given how short our interactions usually are, so I've been paying more attention to gestures, body language, and other non-verbal cues to convey my gratitude for their hospitality and my interest in their concerns and well-being.
I've also been surprised by the accent barrier even between other English-speakers and me. Sometimes it seems like we're speaking in two totally different languages! My family has told me for years that I talk too quickly for other people to keep up; now I see they're right, and I've been practicing speaking slowly, deliberately, and as deeply as possible. Usually this is enough for World Vision staff to understand my strange American accent, but when I go to junior high schools a World Vision volunteer usually has to translate my English...into English. It's been humbling and I think has made me more patient. I know the students are very eager to please and that their nodding doesn't necessarily mean they understand, so I've been much more careful not only in my delivery but also in confirming they understand me.

Hi Eleanor! It is so beautiful to hear the ways that you are bridging linguistic barriers through non-verbal cues and body language and it so fascinating to hear how even the different in English dialects and accents creates a communication gap. You seem like you're doing great though! So excited to follow your adventures through these posts!

Jul 27, 2022

Week Three:
What does a typical day of your research/community engagement look like? Aside from a narrative description, upload a photo, video and/or other media submission!

For me, a typical day starts off around 9:30am, when I wake up and start getting ready to leave for my internship on the other end of town. My commute is very reflective of Bulgaria's history: the '7' French-built tram that I take from my apartment is ultra-modern (LCD screens, electronic doors, a countdown timer to the next stops) - a testament to Bulgaria's warming relations to the West and an ignited passion for infrastructure development. The "20" Soviet-built tram that I transfer to next is a testament to Bulgaria's communist past - mostly running late, clanky, rough seats, and lever-operated doors.I begin working around 11am, starting off with a quick debrief with my manager of the day's tasks and the progress on what I achieved over the past day.

For the past week, what has followed this debrief is me working on my policy brief to the European Union raising concerns about the dilapidated conditions of migrant housing. By 1 or 2, I'll head to lunch which doubles as socialization time for me with my co-workers and managers. After lunch, I'll continue working on my tasks before heading out for around 5pm. Usually, my days vary a lot with what I do after work. Some days, I'll either hang out with friends from work; other days I'll run some errands and do chores, taking solo trips in the city alongside. I've started to cook more in my apartment after the learning curve of getting familiar with Bulgarian ingredients, but every now and then, I go eat out to try some of the local flavors. By 12am, I try to be asleep so I can be ready and fresh for the next day.

Jul 15, 2022
Replying to Alisha Arshad

Week 2

In the villages I visit in the north, most people don’t speak English but rather a tribal language. There’s no one primary traditional language in Ghana, so picking up on phrases can be difficult. So far, I know “Akwaaba,” which means “welcome” in Twi, a major language in the south that most people greeted me in when I first arrived in Ghana. Therefore, one-to-one communication can be quite difficult. I rely on World Vision staff to translate and ask any questions I have, and I depend on the few villagers who can speak English to explain certain aspects of the community if possible.

Despite the language barrier, I’ve had many conversations about WASH and the community impact of boreholes, but personally, the most interesting conversations I’ve had are about gender. I’ve conversed with community members, World Vision staff, and even students researching gender in the field, and have learned more about the patriarchal power structures that dominate most villages and about how WASH empowers women to a certain extent (for example, the increased availability of water may allow some women to further develop their shea butter business). This is particularly significant to me, since some of the research I focus on on my Human Rights studies is about women and children. It is interesting to see how World Vision addresses gender differences. One project the office supported was a PhD student's study of gender transformative actions, where husbands and wives attempt to switch traditional roles in order to create a more empathetic, efficient, and harmonious household.

Hi Alisha, your work in Ghana sounds amazing! This summer, I'm in Bulgaria so I'm also having to face a steep language barrier. Most of my work is done in English and to connect with some refugees, I am able to communicate a bit in Arabic, but I definitely feel like I am not able to appreciate their narratives fully with a translated version. I can only imagine how having the language barrier impacts your work. It is so encouraging to hear how much you are learning through your conversations though!

Jul 15, 2022


My research does not involve outside participation yet, so thus far, my work has taken on a very non-ethnographic research format. Currently, I'm writing a host of policy briefs regarding refugee advocacy causes, so I primary engage with the refugee communities present in the European Union and Bulgaria for my research. For most of this work, I'm relying on literature reviews - analyzing what perceptions of Europe refugees convey to other researchers, newspapers, and other media sources. How they inform my project differs with the topic of the policy brief I am working on at a given time period. 

For instance, last week, my policy brief centered on how the EU-Turkey Statement - an agreement signed between the European Union and Turkey that conjointly diffused refugee responsibility to Turkey - impacted refugees trying to resettle in Europe. For that policy brief, refugees informed my project by sharing with me their perspectives dealing with an overly-bureaucratic asylum process and being in a state of legal oblivion. This week, my policy brief relates to access to housing for refugees, so refugees have informed my project by sharing with me their concerns about their living conditions, the safety of their neighborhoods, and the discrimination and racism they face in the processing of securing homes. 

Jul 11, 2022
Replying to Nicole Wolff

Week Five:
What new skills and/or knowledge have you gained from your summer experience? Have you met anyone who has been instrumental in shaping/helping you conduct your project? Briefly, how has this person impacted you? What have you learned about leadership from this individual, and how might it influence your actions, work, and self in the future?

First of all, being in Italy, I learned a lot of Italian! I learned how to carry a basic conversation in Italian, how to understand some spoken Italian, plenty of astronomy/science vocabulary, some regional differences in Italian culture, and how their high school and university systems differ from the United States. As for astronomy, I  learned how to find a good number of constellations, how to orient directionally at different points of the night, several of the myths behind the constellations, and how to find some objects using a telescope. I learned a little about how to control the planetarium's projector, which illuminates the dome with the apparent positions of the stars, planets, and the sun as viewed from a flexible position on Earth. I learned that there's so much I don't know about the astronomy governing basic events in our solar system, like eclipses, solstices, and equinoxes. Once I learned something new, I tried to practice explaining it to the visitors of the planetarium. 

I can't begin to describe how important my project mentor was during my six weeks. She helped me manage tasks throughout each day, practice speaking Italian, practice both of my lectures, and even took me around outside of work to see different sights in the area. From her, I learned the importance of mentorship and how formative it is to have a good mentor - it makes me want to one day mentor someone, too. I learned from her how to communicate science to the public in an engaging, interactive, and accessible way. I also learned from her how to be a true leader by communicating with all your coworkers and addressing disagreements upfront and directly. From my short six weeks here, I've decided I might like to pursue a similar job in a planetarium in the future. 

Hey Nicole! I am so glad to hear that you're having an amazing experience in Italy so far and have been becoming more and more proficient in Italian. I wish I could say the same about Bulgarian but nonetheless, I definitely can relate to your experience of having locals - in your case, your research mentors and in my case, my fellow interns - facilitate your adjustment to another country. My fellow interns have been instrumental to me seeing new sights in Sofia, pick up a few phrases in Bulgarian, and even telling me where I should be grocery + essentials shopping in the city. So excited to continue hearing about your trip from your reflection posts!

Jul 11, 2022

Week One:
As you set out on your research or community engagement project, do you find yourself experiencing any worries or insecurities about saying something that’s already been said? How do we as researchers and/or volunteers learn to address or set aside those insecurities or, better yet, to use them to our advantage? If your project this summer differs from your project last summer, has last summer’s project influenced your project this year, and if so how?  If your project is different, what tools have you developed to help you work on this project?

As I wind up my first full work week in Bulgaria, interning at the Center for the Study of Democracy in Sofia, I'm hit by a series of culture shocks. A unique language, a writing system unlike Latin, and the sun staying up till 10pm in the summers - Bulgaria is unlike any other country I've been to. But my first week has been more than just adjusting; on Thursday, I had an opportunity to attend a conference hosted by the European Commission and network with figureheads of the European Union's criminal justice policy on how the EU is experimenting with preventive justice initiatives as part of its Article 12 policy. My personal capstone project is in a separate field though - migrant/refugee advocacy. I'll be writing a series of policy briefs addressed to the European Union and the governments of numerous member states petitioning how specific areas of their immigration and asylum jurisprudence can be altered to enfranchise migrant needs.

More than saying something that someone has already said, though, I find myself worrying about someone saying something to me that I don't quite understand. Just this week, one of the suggestions my manager gave me was to look into "sanctioning and monitoring mechanisms relevant to the European Union." I had no idea what monitoring mechanisms were and on the other hand, my understanding of sanctions has thus far been shaped by American policies and the UN, neither of which translate well into the context of the European Union. But, I've been setting aside this insecurity by framing this experience as a learning lesson - everyone starts somewhere and I have a unique opportunity to learn policymaking and legal advocacy from a perspective other than the one I grew up around.

Both in terms of disciplinary and geographical scopes, last summer's project on China's Belt and Road Initiative is quite different from working for migrant advocacy this summer. But, the investigatory methods of projects from both summers is the same: extensive literature review. Last summer, I was analyzing the agreements China would sign with developing countries to look for flaws and inequities; this summer I'm doing the same with the jurisprudence of the European Union. As such, all the research and analytical skills I developed last summer - from learning how to maximize relevant results from research databases to writing scholarly pieces - has been crucial to my work in Bulgaria.


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