Sarah Buell, How DOD Does International Cooperation

Sarah Buell came into the MAIR degree as a Fast Track student directly from Maxwell’s BA International Relations program.

This summer, I had the opportunity to intern for the Department of Defense, in the Office of the Undersecretary for Acquisition and Sustainment, in the International Cooperation Directorate. Essentially, International Cooperation (IC) works to form long-term armaments and military partnerships with our allies and friendly countries. It creates agreements with these countries on weapons and communications systems, vehicles, aircraft and other technologies. It is almost like the diplomatic component of acquisition at the Pentagon.

I gained a lot of experience with prepping our Undersecretary and our International Cooperation director with preparing to engage with an international counterpart. On one occasion, I was able to write all of the briefing materials for a meeting the IC director had with an ambassador. I then got to attend the meeting and watch the director use the talking points that I had come up with. It was extremely satisfying to see that the work I had done could actually be used.

Sarah Buell at the Pentagon

Interestingly enough, this internship taught me about a lot of coordination, and showed me that I had more backbone than I thought I did. Among other things, I was put in charge of handling reservations for a trip that the Undersecretary was supposed to take. When the trip got cancelled, I was then in charge of cancelling all of them. When a cancellation did not go through, I spent a long time on the phone calmly with the hotel explaining why we should not be charged. I got a partial refund. Everyone in my office said that they were impressed that I was able to assert myself like that. It gave me the confidence I needed to be able to handle more difficult tasks in the future.

This internship introduced me to how the Department of Defense interacts with our allies. I learned that diplomacy and long-standing relationships are important, even for our defense interests. I also learned how to assert myself in an effective manner. In short, I learned policy and practical skills while increasing confidence in my professional self.

Sarah Buell at the Pentagon Visitor’s Center while assisting with escorting around the building

MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

International Relations Undergraduate Program

  • For more about the Fast Track BA/MA program, contact the Director of Admissions, Christine Omolino,  at comolino@syr.edu

Maxwell-in-Washington Program

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Ben Silverstein Reaches the Pinnacle at JIU in Geneva

Ben Silverstein is a MAIR student in the Governance, Diplomacy, & International Organizations career track. He has continued his internship at the Joint Inspection Unit of the United Nations Systems during the Fall Semester.

The Graduate Internships in Geneva program has been the crown jewel of my Maxwell experience. As engaging as the curriculum is on campus during the fall semester, it is impossible to compare classroom lessons with experiences in the workplace. My internship at the Joint Inspection Unit of the United Nations System has been an eye-opening experience that has offered me the opportunity to learn first-hand about the management and administrative challenges UN system organizations face. This internship experience has put all the principles and theories brought up by Maxwell professors into perspective.

The UN is a massive organization, and the JIU touches (or has the ability to touch) nearly every aspect. As the only independent external oversight body in the UN system, the JIU is mandated to conduct evaluations, inspections and investigations that help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of UN system organizations as they strive to achieve their mission objectives. My work at the JIU has ranged from exploring the budgetary requirements and policies of the operational arm of the UN to exploring how the UN is aiming to eradicate HIV/AIDS. While the JIU’s work often goes unheralded by those outside the UN, working here has not only allowed me to develop a thorough understanding about how the world’s largest bureaucracy functions, but also supported my critical thinking, analysis, and drafting skills. I am halfway through my internship and am very excited to see what new lessons the next three months have in store.

As a first-time expat, Geneva has been a great host for the past few months. As a small but very cosmopolitan city, there are always rich cultural events that open up conversations about international cultures, customs, and perspectives. Geneva is a perfect mix of the New York City’s, Washington DC’s policy savvy, and Upstate New York’s beautiful scenery. The Swiss Alps are always a welcome respite for the office-weary intern.

Interning at the JIU in Geneva and getting a taste of international management practices at the United Nations has been the pinnacle of my time at Maxwell. It is an invaluable opportunity to build on the lessons taught in Maxwell and Eggers, and to reach out across cultures and areas of thematic expertise to become a consummate professional in the international arena.

Benjamin Silverstein at Ben Silverstein at Klewenalp above Lac Lucerne in Nidwalden, Switzerland

MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

Graduate Internships in Geneva Program

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In Ghana, Lindzzi Ngati Understands to be Effective You Have to be Evolving

Lindzzi Ngati is a joint MPA/MAIR student focusing on international development.

This summer, I had the opportunity to intern with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Accra, Ghana through Syracuse Abroad. The IOM is the leading international agency in the field of migration, spearheading programs on brain drain and diaspora engagement, refugee resettlement, counter-trafficking, voluntary return and reintegration, migration health, labor migration, and border management. The organization is committed to the principle that humane and orderly migration benefits migrants and society.

From left to right: Lindzzi Ngati in a locally made dress, and SU students Sunil C., Giovanna S., and Tran K. standing outside of the IOM Ghana office

During my internship I was tasked with two major group assignments in the Countertrafficking Unit and Migrant Assistance Unit. Other small assignments included: reporting about the Egyeikrom Refugee Camp, a presentation of the IOMs work to graduate students at the Centre for Migration Studies at the University of Ghana and created two info sheets about the SU/IOM student mobility program. In addition to these assignments, I had the opportunity to support the Migration and Development Project Manager during an African Union meeting and Ghanaian Migration National Stakeholder meeting.

Lindzzi Ngati during the African Union West/Central African regional meeting on regional migration

The Countertrafficking Unit tasked the group with collecting visibility material (pictures and videos) that could be used for fundraising. However, to protect the identity of the victims we could not capture their faces. In collecting the visibility material, we shadowed a social worker who was conducting the quarterly meetings with the victims, their families and teachers in the Volta region. At the end of the assignment, we produced 2 short videos and 15 profiles that highlight the achievements and needs of the victims. During this assignment I learned how to use iMovie and used the new skill to create my own personal short video that summarized my experience in Ghana for my final presentation to office staff.

For the second assignment, we conducted focus group discussions throughout various communities in the Greater Accra region. Once the focus group discussions were completed, we analyzed data and produced a report and infographic of our findings. Finally, we presented the report to the Migrant Assistance team. During the focus group discussion, we sensitized community members about the dangers of irregular migration. We also had the chance to have conversations with migrants returning from Libya and Niger. During this assignment I was able to share some of my negative experiences as a Black woman in the U.S. in order to sensitize community members about the social issues they may face in the Western world.

In addition to interning in Accra, I was able to explore other regions of Ghana. I visited Elmina Castle, Kakum National Park, and Fort Victoria in Central region, Fort Metal Cross and Busua in Western region, Mole National Park and Larabanga Mosque in the Northern region.

My time in Ghana has been a very rewarding experience which has provided me with new skills and a renewed mindset. During my last extensive international experience, I lived by the quote: “comfort and growth cannot coexist,” however, during this internship I lived by the quote: “to be effective you have to be evolving” – Daniel Tagoe, Focal Point during Volta trip. This quote is reflective of the lifestyle of an international development practitioner.

Lindzzi Ngati conducting a focus group discussion with members of the Kasoa, Greater Accra Region community members

MPA/MAIR Joint Degree Program at the Maxwell School

Survey of Current Issues in African Migration Program

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Amery Sanders, LGBTI Rights at European Parliament

Amery Sanders is a MAIR student focusing on human rights.

From May 25th through July 14th, I lived and worked in Brussels as part of Syracuse University’s Public Diplomacy program.  While not a Public Diplomacy student myself—I’m a graduate student pursuing the MA International Relations (MAIR) degree—I chose the Brussels program for its abundance of opportunities in my interest areas of human rights, diplomacy, and international NGO work.  I was incredibly fortunate enough to secure an internship at the Brussels seat of the European Parliament, one of the three core legislative institutions of the European Union.  I served as a trainee in the office of dynamic Finnish MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen.

Amery Sanders’ last day at work, below the third-floor bridge of the EU Parliament bearing the official institutional logo

I reached out to MEP Pietikäinen’s office because of her work in the leadership of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBTI Rights, a coordinated cross-party effort by MEPs to advance and support the rights of LGBTI people.  As a queer graduate student with a professional and academic focus in international transgender human rights, securing a place in her office meant I was able to work right at the heart of the European Union’s LGBTI-centric activities while also gaining in-depth understanding of EU institutional and legislative work.

During my seven weeks in Brussels, I split my time between doing administrative work for the MEP, working with Intergroup Secretariat Juliette Sanchez-Lambert, and doing research around the MEP’s special interest areas of queer freedom of movement, employment discrimination, partner and family rights, health care discrimination, and asylum rights.  I attended Parliament events around LGBTI issues and was privileged to be able to attend the 7th European Transgender Council, an annual conference hosted by TGEU, the largest transnational member organization of transgender activists in Europe.  Over the course of the internship I worked to develop a reference packet on individual LGBTI topics, to be used by MEPs and other officials as a resource guide in the lead up to the 2019 parliamentary elections.  Of especial significance to me personally, I was asked to give critical feedback on the Fundamental Rights Agency’s EU LGBT Survey; my critiques and suggestions were taken to a Vienna meeting to help determine the structure and content of the next version of the survey.

Materials from the 7th European Transgender Council, including their Strategic Plan, self-critical Anti-Activity Report, policy supporting sex workers, and guide for working with the United Nations

Brussels was a city both beautiful and politically complex, and I was deeply satisfied by my time there—by the work I was able to do, the connections I was able to make, and the knowledge I was able to gain.  I feel like I was able to get exactly the glimpse “behind the curtain” of transnational LGBTI-centric rights work that I have heretofore been unable to access.  It’s re-energized me in a way I could only have hoped for, and which I think will serve me well as I go forward in my academics and my career.

Exterior view of the European Parliament building in Brussels–or at least one small corner of it!

Public Diplomacy Internships in Brussels Program

Maxwell’s MAIR Degree

Jena Daggett, Humanitarian Assistance at DOD

Jena Daggett is a recent alumni of the joint MA International Relations and MS Public Relations (MAIR/MSPR) degree between the Maxwell and Newhouse Schools.

Jena Daggett

For my Spring 2018 semester, I interned in Colorado Springs at the headquarters for NORAD and the United States Northern Command . I was placed within the J9 Interagency Directorate in the Civil-Military Cooperation Division. My role was as a Humanitarian Assistance Analyst working with Mexico and The Bahamas.

In this role, I worked directly with different partners, especially the consulates and embassies, to facilitate humanitarian assistance projects in under served communities. My role as an action officer began in the conceptualization phase (discussing and researching needs in different communities across the two countries) and continued through the evaluation phase, with many steps in between necessary for success.

My first project concerned a prosthetics oven in Tijuana; the donation ceremony included several Mexican and American leaders and has already helped to impact individuals with physical disabilities in that state, who previously did not have access to medical prosthetics for missing limbs. A later project heavily utilized my second degree for Public Diplomacy, in that the press release I drafted was used in several Mexican outlets following collaboration between the Coast Guard, Department of Defense, Department of State, and local non-governmental organizations in Mexico.

The experience I gained throughout this semester has truly been eye-opening and exceptional. I did not have a strong understanding of this component of the DoD’s work and am thrilled I was able to apply the skills I gained at Maxwell and Newhouse to help improve our nation’s strategic relationships.

NORAD & USNORTHCOM

Joint MAIR/MSPR degree from the Maxwell and Newhouse Schools

The Newhouse School

The Maxwell School

Kevin Oswald Explores European Energy Diversity at Student Conference

Kevin Oswald is a recent alumni of the Atlantis Transatlantic Dual Degree program, completing an MAIR degree from the Maxwell School and an MPP from the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin. He also completed internships at the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Washington D.C. and Agora Energiewende in Berlin during his studies.

Kevin Oswald at ESC 2018

From March 29 to 31, 2018 I had the opportunity to participate in the European Student Conference (ESC) 2018 at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. ESC is a conference organized by European Horizons that brought together 100 undergraduate and graduate students from universities across the United States, Europe and Asia with distinguished academics and seasoned policy-makers in order to address some of the challenges confronting the European Union.Prior to the conference, students from different parts of the world and with different academic backgrounds, had been divided into groups, according to their knowledge and interests, in order to deal with the following challenges in six workshops related to: Energy, Technology, EU-China, Democracy, National Sovereignty and Security. Each group then made an effort to develop policy recommendations with regard to their topic and during the conference those proposals by the students were discussed with decision-makers and renowned academics. This year, ESC hosted representatives from business, politics and diplomacy, such as the former President of the European Parliament, Enrique Barón Crespo, as well as several academics from US universities.

Enrique Barón Crespo at ESC 2018 speaking during the opening session in the auditorium of Yale University

As a student enrolled in the transatlantic ATLANTIS dual-degree Master program in International Relations and Public Policy offered by the Maxwell School and the Hertie School of Governance, I am particularly interested in foreign and security policy as well as in energy and climate policy. Therefore, I took part in the energy workshop and together with fellow students worked on the issue of the EU’s dependency on energy imports, particularly natural gas, in order to meet its demand. Given the fact that a high proportion of imports is concentrated among relatively few partners, the security of the EU’s natural gas supplies may be threatened. Our team provided a solid analysis of the status quo and presented several policy recommendations with the primary goals to diversify supply sources (new pipelines, interconnectors, LNG etc.) and to utilize soft tools, which, for instance, might require setting up an EU Energy Diplomacy Task Force to deal with delicate pipeline projects such as Nord Stream 2.

I was impressed with the expertise and dedication of our group and look forward to seeing our recommendations being published in the Review of European and Transatlantic Affairs, a journal that will be distributed to university libraries across Europe and the U.S., as well as to European decision-makers.

In sum, ESC 2018 has been a wonderful experience and I truly enjoyed the opportunity to work with fellow students that all have a passion for the EU. In addition, I hope to become part of the international ESC network that links thinkers and leaders from both sides of the Atlantic and beyond.

Energy Working Group at ESC 2018

Kevin Oswald Interns at the German Embassy in Washington, DC

Atlantis Transatlantic Dual Degree Program

The Maxwell School

The Hertie School of Governance

Alexcia Chambers, Civil Support Planning at NORAD & USNORTHCOM

Alexcia Chambers completed her joint MA International Relations and MS Public Relations (MAIR/MSPR) degree  in Spring 2018. During the program she was also a virtual intern with the U.S. Department of State and an intern at ProDialogo, a Peruvian peace NGO in Lima.

Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado hosts several important Headquarters for the Department of Defense (DOD). From January to May, I had the privilege of interning at the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) & U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), a bi-national Headquarters with the United States and Canada that is tasked with homeland defense, civil support, and security cooperation.

The headquarters is divided in nine directorates and numerous special offices. During my time at N&NC, I worked in the Strategy, Policy and Plans Directorate (J-5). The J-5 develops strategy, doctrine, policy, plans, and security cooperation activities within the Interagency, and with multi-national allies like The Bahamas, Canada and Mexico.

The Civil Support Plans branch of the J-5—where I worked—focuses specifically on planning for incidences within the U.S. and its territories that require the DOD to support the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as it coordinates national-level responses in the homeland.

As a Joint Operations Planner, I led the development, coordination, and briefing of the Mission Analysis for the FY19 priority-focus planning scenario, the New Madrid Seismic Zone catastrophic earthquake. This project brought me to Franklin, Tennessee where I briefed the plan at Joint Exercise Life Cycle (JELC) meetings for Ardent Sentry exercise development.

Separately, I also worked on an effort to improve the way the critical transportation community conducts assessment during a response. The template I created was adopted by FEMA Headquarters and will be exercised in the 2018 National Level Exercise, with the intention of later incorporating it into all future FEMA responses.

Before coming to NORAD & USNORTHCOM, I had no idea about strategic planning. Four months later, gaining employment as a strategist is my main goal. Planning encompasses so many important skills championed by the Syracuse Public Diplomacy program—strategic thinking, crisis management, building bridges between entities, breaking down complex problems into smaller pieces, etc.—and channels that energy into improving the way our government works for the people. The work is extremely fulfilling, and I am grateful to this internship for guiding me in this direction.

Alexcia Chambers

Transforming Conflict in Peru by Alexcia Chambers

Joint MAIR/MSPR degree from the Maxwell and Newhouse Schools

The Newhouse School

The Maxwell School

Aaron Mwewa Learns the Importance of Passion at UNICEF

Aaron Mwewa is a 2018 graduate of the Maxwell School and the Newhouse School, where he earned joint MAIR/MSPR degrees. This past fall he extended his 2017 summer internship at UNICEF in New York City. 

“Aaron, you can only do something exceptionally well if you are passionate about it. If you are passionate about something, there is no Monday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday because that is all you want to do. When you are consumed by the desire for quality output, the ‘9 to 5 pm just to get the salary work mindset’ is lost.”

Aaron at UNICEF.

These where the words, which were told to me by Kerida Mcdonald, Senior Communications for Development Specialist at the United Nations Children’s Fund on the first day of my internship in her office. Those words struck the right chord with me as I am a passionate supporter of children’s rights.

True to the words of my supervisor, we could email each other back and forth about work over weekends and also way into the evening even after leaving the office. This is why I achieved quite a lot with my boss during my internship. We were able to successfully put together an online course with other team members on communication for development for current practitioners and those who want to join the field. We are also nearing the completion of putting together a compilation of case studies from different countries (12) on the best practices with regards to the use of theater to bring about social change. Being a firm believer in the change which UNICEF wants to bring through its different projects, I also volunteered to help out on work, which was being done by some of the neighboring offices. This helped me to create a good reputation beyond the section in which I worked in to the point that others even just began soliciting for my help.

Aaron Mwewa and David Van Slyke, Dean of the Maxwell School

November, 15th, 2017, was officially my last day after my internship was extended to that date from August, when it was supposed to end. Having needed to come back to school at the end of August, this year, I did the last part of the internship virtually and travelled to New York from Syracuse from time to time when I go the chance. I had to endure the 5 hour bus rides both ways while getting some work done. The fulfillment I got from the work I have been doing made the journeys worthwhile. Indications are that my internship supervisor may want to extend the internship again if that opportunity becomes possible. She actually continues to consult me to this day. That is what passion does. It helps you to do so well that people want to continue working with you. With passion, you work from the heart and not for the pay or simply to clock in the hours. When you work from the heart, you are definitely on to something. Kerida’s parting words to me: “Working with heart is what gets you the seat at the big table even when others think you are too young to be there because you will not be doing what your peers are doing. You will be that exceptional bright shining star that cannot simply be ignored.”

If your desire is to make a difference in the world, you must be different from the world. Passion sets you apart because it gives that cutting edge.

Aaron Mwewa, Living My Dream at UNICEF in NYC

Joint MAIR/MSPR degrees from the Maxwell School and the Newhouse School

The Newhouse School

The Maxwell School

Mia Mazer Gains Significant Humanitarian Experience at InterAction

Mia Mazer is 2018 graduate of the Maxwell School, where she earned a joint MPA/MAIR degree. This past fall she interned at InterAction as part of the Maxwell-in-Washington fall program.

This fall I set out to Washington, D.C. to complete coursework through the Maxwell-in-Washington program and intern at InterAction, an alliance of over 190 NGOs working in the humanitarian and international development sectors. InterAction serves as a convener, thought leader, and voice in the community, representing and advocating for legislation, policies, and practices that impact its members’ work at the international, regional, and national levels. The organization’s mission is to be a leader in the global quest to eliminate extreme poverty and vulnerability, strengthen human rights and citizen participation, safeguard a sustainable planet, promote peace, and ensure dignity for all people.

I worked for the The Humanitarian Policy and Practice (HPP) Team which is dedicated to providing leadership and support for InterAction members that are active in humanitarian response and advocacy. Humanitarian organizations within the InterAction alliance provide services, materials and logistical aid to affected people in crises. InterAction supports the work of these members by providing a forum for consultation, coordination and advocacy on emergency response. Apart from providing immediate response to emergencies, many NGOs engage in activities to improve the overall response of the international humanitarian system. InterAction engages at various levels with United Nations agencies, various policy bodies of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), the U.S. Government, NGO consortia and individual international NGOs on cross-cutting issues and country-specific situations. The HPP team’s work is organized across the following four work streams: humanitarian policy, humanitarian practice, protection (inclusive of results-based protection, gender-based violence, prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse, and NGO security), shelter and settlements.

As an HPP Intern, I gained invaluable experience while supporting the humanitarian policy, humanitarian practice, and protection work streams. I conducted research, drafted summary notes and reports, and attended and reported on Congressional briefings and hearings, working group meetings, and member events to inform InterAction’s humanitarian policy and advocacy work.

My work allowed me to gain a better understanding of the linkage between international policy and programming in the humanitarian field as well as core elements of the global humanitarian architecture. I also gained a tremendous amount of knowledge on various technical, thematic, and regional issues pertinent to the humanitarian field, including some of my own interests, such as the intersection of humanitarian assistance and gender issues.

This experience helped define my goal of pursuing a career in policy and advocacy in humanitarian assistance and/or international development. My work often informed my contributions to class discussions in both classes I took on global sustainability and public policy and African conflicts. Living and working in Washington D.C. allowed me to connect with numerous Maxwell School alumni and other professionals working in my fields of interest and begin to cultivate a meaningful network which will be there for me when I graduate.

Mia Mazer Works on Youth Health in Rural Nicaragua

Maxwell-in-Washington Programs

MPA/MAIR Joint Degree Program at the Maxwell School

Ashley Saulcy Works on Political Transition in Nepal – Part 2

Ashley Saulcy is a 2017 MAIR graduate of the Maxwell School. In the summer of 2017 she interned at the Asia Foundation in Nepal. She decided to extend that opportunity into the fall and continue her work on political transition in the country.

For those of you who follow graduate student adventures in The Stacks regularly, you may recognize my name from a former blog post regarding my time interning in Kathmandu, Nepal. My adventures in the Himalayas began back in May 2017, and were happily (if somewhat unexpectedly) extended through the Fall 2017 semester. As I write the second post documenting my experiences in Nepal, I am struck by the immense political transformations that have taken place in such a short period of time.

Nepal is currently undergoing a political transition to a federal system that is intended to redistribute power to local governments. Although the country has successfully held three rounds of local elections, it has begun to witness sparks of violence in the approach to provincial and federal elections. New large-scale political alliances have further demonstrated the high stakes for the country’s political parties.

Ashley Saulcy in Nepal in the fall of 2017.

The complexity of Nepal’s political, social, and cultural landscapes made the opportunity to delve deeper into the political transition extremely rewarding. As a program intern to The Asia Foundation, I observed the transition through a program funded by the Australian Government to support newly established subnational governments. My extended tenure allowed me to further engage gender equality and social inclusion initiatives within programmatic strategies; work as a primary editor to the program’s inception report; and contribute to the development of a monitoring, evaluation, and learning framework. While my initial months provided an excellent introduction to these spaces, engaging them in greater depth enriched my understanding and appreciation of the turbulence that follows long-term development initiatives.

At the completion of my internship, I walk away knowing that I will see Nepal again. This beautiful country has left its mark, thanks to the friendship of many Nepalis, the lights of the Tihar festival, piles of delicious momos, and days spent trekking in the Himalayas. It may be a cheesy sentiment, but as I contemplate my time in Kathmandu, I am reminded that it is not just us as Maxwell students who leave our mark on the cities we work in; these cities also make us as individuals greater, better, and more beautiful.

Ashley Saulcy Works on Political Transition in Nepal – Part 1

MAIR Degree at the Maxwell School