Shanxu (Neil) Li '25

Shanxu (Neil) Li '25

The Importance of Goodwill in International Relations

When my father started to associate his business with South Korea, international affairs became real to me. Shortly after that, the Asian currency crisis made this nation's economy fall into turmoil, resulting in 1.7 million people out of jobs. But what connects me and my families to East Asia geopolitics was the incredible unemployment rate that tripled, and 80 percent of households experienced the loss of income during the climax of this crisis, exhausting the resource-lacking Korea and halting my family's association with the country. This event led me to the gate of world politics and the economy. 

Honestly, for a teenager who comes to this world from innocence, the deeper I understand the political and economic matrix of the world, the easier it is to see the dark sides of the world—the survival of the fittest, the easily-solidified institutions, and the vast gaps of values—that often frustrate the efforts to make changes. However, raised in a Confucian environment and educated by Jesuit values, these barriers became my mission to make all the "impossibilities" possible. 

After a series of more comprehensive learnings in political science, economics, international relations, and cultural studies through high school, Georgetown Pre-College, Boston College, and extracurricular readings, I started to have more confidence in making positive impacts in public affairs as my knowledge was broadened and understanding deepened. I realized that what is often deemed impossible is just a higher level of complexity that could actually be handled with a higher level of expertise.

Moreover, as a young and passionate freshman who is dismissive of platitudes and punditry, I am eager to transform the world that has been saturated with so much gunpowder and pessimism in recent years into a better and more dynamic place. Just as Henry Stimson has commented on the creation of atomic bombs, "The chief lesson I have learned in a long life is that the only way you can make a man trustworthy is to trust him: and the surest way to make him untrustworthy is to distrust him and show him your distrust." In a similar vein, the only way to build a more peaceful and prosperous world in the international arena is through showing our goodwill and action first instead of coercing or intimidating the other side to concede.

Therefore, to fulfill my mission, I must build the best expertise to confront the most intimidating challenges, and the IS program at BC is just the right path to go down. I believe, with the help, I am ever closer to starting my career relating to world affairs and making fundamental contributions to the development of the world. I am more than keen to start my IS  journey here at BC! A freshman IS person's words are just not enough to express my fascination with it.

Shanxu (Neil) Li ’25
March 2022