Hemispheres is YIRA’s international relations teaching program. Once every week, Yale students meet with high school students from the New Haven area to explore a variety of topics in IR and develop analytical, creative, and critical thinking skills. The program culminates in a trip to Washington, DC to experience IR and policy making in action by meeting Ambassadors and Congressmen, while also sightseeing in this exciting, political center.  As part of the program, Hemispheres students also attend the Yale Model United Nations conference – an excellent opportunity to apply new IR knowledge while tackling critical world issues and have an awesome time meeting new friends. 

In addition to weekly educational classes on international relations, Hemispheres is unique because it offers New Haven students the opportunity to travel and discover pillars of global affairs. Through the variety of activities, Hemispheres students have the opportunity to travel both domestically and abroad. In addition to DC, Hemispheres students also visit the United Nations Headquarters in NYC to learn about diplomacy and the real-world applications of Global Affairs. Hemispheres students also compete in Model UN conferences in New Haven, Philadelphia, and even in Budapest, Hungary. 


Every Friday, class meet at Yale to discuss international relations topics and Model United Nations. The first 30 minutes of class, taught by a pair of Yalies, focus on recent news and up-to-the-minute current events. After a quick break for food, students have the option to choose their class based of topic and experience. In these hour sessions, 2-3 Yale students lead classes that explore a special topic through lectures, interactive discussions, debates, media analyses, and other exciting methods. Topics range from general issues like Human Rights and Terrorism, to specific issues like Israeli- Palestinian Conflict, US-Cuba relations, or the Eurozone Crisis. Hemispheres empowers students to be able to effectively articulate their opinions on a variety of global issues, while also having the skills to analyze nearly any topic in IR. 


While participation is open to any student, over 20 Hemispheres students attend the Yale Model United Nations (YMUN) Conference each year. Participation is free for Hemispheres students and Hemispheres also provides meals during the conference. For two years, Hemispheres has also sent one lucky and deserving student to Budapest for Yale Model Government in Europe (YMGE). For the first time last year, Hemispheres students also sent a delegation to compete at Philadelphia Model United Nation (PhilMUN). Hemispheres is committed to provided these opportunities to students, while also always looking for ways to expand as the program grows each year. 


A core to the success of Hemispheres is the mentoring component. Students and teachers are organized into “Hemi families” of about 2-3 Yalies and 3-4 students that meet biweekly. "Hemi families” create an open forum for students and teachers to interact, debate, and learn more informally and personally. During these sessions, groups meet to do activities like Holiday Card decorating, make your own quesadilla, or Game Night. These are also a great time to discuss anything ranging from Global Affairs, Model UN, homework help, or college applications. Hemispheres teachers love to pass on their experiences and help Hemispheres students to prepare for the challenges of college and later life.


Every year, Hemispheres visits the beautiful city of Washington D.C. to get a hands-on feel for international relations in our nation’s capital, a national hub of political activity. Last year, Hemispheres visited the National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of Natural History, the Washington D.C. Newseum, the Cherry Blossom Festival, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Students also have the option to attend YIRA’s annual UN trip.

For Yalies

Teaching a Hemispheres class is an exciting and challenging commitment. Topics for classes are determined at the beginning of each semester, and the program strives to create an engaging and unique classroom experience. Hemispheres classes are full of activities and opportunities for students to develop their analytical, creative, critical, and speaking skills. Sometimes, questions from students can pose quiet challenges to teachers' own views of an issue and open a new perspective. These kinds of experiences are part of what makes teaching Hemispheres classes so fascinating and rewarding. Teaching is often the best way to learn the material yourself. 

Are you interested in teaching IR and mentoring kids from New Haven? Are you looking for something that is more than just another community service activity? Are you considering working in education or with organizations like US Grant and Teach for America? If interested, please reach out to us at hemispheres@yira.org

For High School Students

Are you a high school student from the New Haven area and interested in Hemispheres and all the exciting opportunities that the program can offer to you? Hemispheres visited high schools in the fall to recruit new students. Our student base has grown over the years, so chances are that someone from your school is involved with us already.

If you a student interested in being involved, please fill out this form and contact us at hemispheres@yira.org with any questions.

Meet the Directors

Lisa Qian Director

Makayla Haussler and Dominic Schnabel Co-Directors of Program Instruction 

Jake Colavolpe Co-Directors of Outreach