Category Archives: Overseas Fellowships & Scholarships

Information about student opportunities off campus

Camila Urbina Escobar, Working on Donor Relations at World Food Programme in Paris

Camilla Urbina Escobar is a DeSardon Glass Fellow and joint MPA/MAIR student expecting to graduate in the summer of 2017.

In many ways, Maxwell has helped me find my professional and personal identity. It has helped me understand my passions and how I can better be of service to my community, my country, and anyone. The journey that started with the opportunity of a lifetime to attend Syracuse University brought me to my Fall Semester studying at one of France’s foremost academic institutions, Sciences Po, and doing my second internship for the World Food Programme in a year. It has been an amazing chance to experience academic and professional life in France in a brilliant historical and cultural environment.

Studying in the Shadow of Giants

The academic leg of my French adventure was at times almost unbelievable, studying against the backdrop of art museums and steps away from historic Paris was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Sciences Po is one of France’s oldest and most prominent academic institutions, the alma mater of French Presidents and Prime Ministers. The professors and courses were a dream come true for a passionate student like myself. I was able to take incredible courses, including Promotion of Human Rights with Professor Aryeh Neier, the founder of Human Rights Watch; Global Health Management with Karl Blanchet, one of the best professors of the London School of Tropical Medicine; and a negotiation class with Alain Lempereur, the man that until recently was supporting the UN talks in Syria.

Sciences Po was the opportunity to learn from amazing professors and make invaluable networking connections by sharing the classroom with people from all over the world, representing Maxwell and contributing my perspectives in one of the most diverse academic spaces I have ever experienced.

At The French Liason Office

As I wanted to take full advantage of my opportunity of being in Europe and continue the work I started in Timor-Leste over the summer, and was accepted to work with the UN’s World Food Programme Paris Liaison Office, which handles all the donations from the government of France and Monaco to the agency.

It has been a wonderful opportunity to understand the relations between WFP and the European governments, and work in donor and public relations for the organization. Supporting their communications efforts and attending meetings with the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs about their donations to their countries of interests. Being part of one of WFP’s high performance teams and contributing to their work has given me the chance to improve my French and strengthen the  competences I received at the Maxwell School with experience working with the UN in a context of European relations—a chance to put theory to practice.

Being in France gave me invaluable networking opportunities, allowed me to work in a multicultural environment and provided me with insights into the inner workings of the liaison offices of the world’s most effective humanitarian agency. This experience has brought me closer to a dream I have had since I was 12 years old, working for the United Nations to help countries like my native Colombia. Maxwell has allowed me to be one step closer to that dream with the opportunity to have a working and studying experience in France.

Camila Urbina at the Pont Neuf in Paris

Camila Urbina at UNESCO HQ where the WFP offices are located

Learn more about Sciences Po World Partner Program

More Global Programs

Tim Stoutzenberger, Balkan Research Leads to Job

Tim Stoutzenberger is a recent graduate of the ATLANTIS Transatlantic Degree Program, where he earned a MAIR from the Maxwell School in Syracuse, New York and a MPP from the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin.

Last Summer, I was fortunate to receive a field research grant from the Moynihan Institute. I spent thirty-five days working in the Balkan region, conducting site visits, interviews, and performing general research for the Global Black Spots Project. That experience helped me further formulate my thesis, which focuses on security and development trends in the Balkans during European Union accession.

With that in mind, in June I began a three month consulting contract with Caritas Switzerland at their Western Balkans Regional Coordination Office in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H). A bit of background…I got in touch with Caritas Switzerland by reaching out to Raymond Bach, director of the SU Strasbourg Center in Strasbourg, France. I knew Professor Bach had friends in the Balkan region, and sure enough the wonderful Maxwell network came through.

For the month of June I teleworked from The Hague, Netherlands while finishing classes at the International Institute of Social Studies. During the first few weeks of my contract, I collaborated via Skype wtih the Balkan Regional Delegate, gained a better understanding of current programs, and began developing the frameworks for upcoming projects.

I arrived in Sarajevo on July 1st during an interesting time for the B&H office and for Caritas Switerland’s regional activities in general (the organization is present in Kosovo, B&H, and Romania). 2011-16 projects were ending, the corporate strategy in Luzern was shifting away from unfettered humanitarian aid, and the local offices were beginning to draft their country programs for 2017-20 with the new strategy in mind.

At the B&H office I work with projects focused on regional food security, youth education and vocational training, income generation, market expansion, migration/refugees/human trafficking, and socio-economic rights for marginalized communities. Larger programs dealing with everything from resource sustainability to public health to conflict resolution are in play as well. I get to travel a good bit, meeting with partners in Tirana, Gorazde, and at our Kosovo office in Przren.

The Global Programs Award I received proved essential during these last few months, especially while I was getting set up in Sarajevo and working locally on my thesis. Additionally, Caritas Switzerland recently agreed to extend my contract which came as welcome news.

Tim Stoutzenberger working at Caritas Switzerland's Western Balkans Regional Coordination Office in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Tim Stoutzenberger working at Caritas Switzerland’s Western Balkans Regional Coordination Office in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Justin Gradek Designs Research Trip to Uganda

Justin Gradek, on top of-the minaret, at the Gadafi Mosque

Justin Gradek on top of the minaret at the Uganda National Mosque (formerly Gaddafi National Mosque) in Kampala, Uganda.

Not only has Justin Gradek completed research in Uganda, but he has further interned in Washington, DC at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, International Affairs Office and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He is a joint MAIR/ECON student who will graduate with two degrees and a wealth of experience.

This year I applied for and won a research grant from the Maxwell African Scholars Union to further pursue my research interests on the economics of healthcare delivery in East Africa.  I had been working on a project to analyze the distribution and allocation of budget resources to the healthcare sector in Uganda when I was unable to locate the data needed for such a project.  This challenge led to designing a research trip to collect the data in-person from ministries which curate the national data sets I was looking for.

I arranged to work from Makerere University as a visiting researcher while I attended meetings at ministries around Kampala, the capital of Uganda, to collect the data.  I wanted to collect budgetary and healthcare outcome data to better understand the mechanisms by which resources are distributed.  The data would need to be anonymized and disaggregated by region, and where possible disaggregated by district.

Justin Gradek & Dr. Eria Hisali, Dean of the College of Business and Management Sciences at Makerere University

Justin Gradek & Dr. Eria Hisali, Dean of the College of Business and Management Sciences at Makerere University.

Designing and following through with this plan required extensive personal interaction.  I worked with Maxwell to set goals, form a research proposal, and gain initial contacts for the trip.  I worked with the dean of the school of Economics at Makerere University to set up meetings with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development to gather the necessary data.  All of these steps contributed to the ultimate outcomes of the trip.

In the end this was a rich experience which required the use of diverse skills including clear communication, active listening, problem solving, and navigation of a foreign system.  Using these skills effectively resulted in the collection of clean and clear datasets which were very valuable for my research.

The experience was rich and interesting.  Over the course of the project I made good contacts with people researching similar topics both in Uganda and in other countries.  I explored some of the local cuisine and culture in Kampala between my official meetings.  Most of all I left Uganda with more questions than when I arrived, suggesting that the whole experience was a profound learning opportunity to try something completely new and formative as part of my broader Maxwell education.

To find out more about the Maxwell African Scholars Union, visit the organization website, where you can also see additional photos of Justine Gradek and other scholars of Africa.

Justin Gradek, in front of School of Economics, Makerere University

Justin Gradek in front of the School of Economics, Makerere University

Justin Gradek inside the sanctuary of the Uganda National Mosque.

Justin Gradek inside the sanctuary of the Uganda National Mosque.

Justin Gradek & Dr. Francis Wasswa, Economic Development Policy and Research at the Ministry of Finance, Planning, and Economic Development.

Justin Gradek & Dr. Francis Wasswa, Economic Development Policy and Research at the Ministry of Finance, Planning, and Economic Development.

Dr. Edward Bbaale, Dean of school of Economics at Makerer University & Justin Gradek.

Dr. Edward Bbaale, Dean of school of Economics at Makerer University & Justin Gradek at Dr. Bbaale’s home.

Language Learning II: The How

Earlier this year, we talked about what language one should study for a career in public policy, as well as why learning a second language is useful.

By this point, those of you who have started another language should be on your way to fluency.  However, it is important to keep the following tips in mind as you continue your bilingual journey.

1) Keep practicing

Second-language acquisition requires a lot of rote repetition.  If you remember back to your elementary school days, you engaged in a lot of sentence construction and vocabulary learning exercises.  Since the process is similar, you’ll have to spend time practicing, find what works for you and be consistent.

2) Try to hear different accents and dialects

Formal language instruction is often used with the standard dialect, which will work well in formal settings, but often fail in more unique ones.  Knowing modern High German is useful in the business climate of Frankfurt, but is not always the best training for understanding farmers in eastern Bavaria.

Test your listening as often as possible, this could be through listening to online podcasts (usually the national radio station of that country will have language podcast) or streaming other entertainment.

3) Practice Speaking

Without speaking practice it is difficult to achieve fluency in a language.  So, try your best to find places where you can speak with other people at different levels of language knowledge.  In Maxwell, you can find the Moynihan Institute’s Language Tables, or search out other students who are native speakers of a language.  Also see if there are local cultural authorities (such as the Turkish Cultural Center) that may hold events where the language is spoken.

4) Read children’s books

One of the best ways to develop reading fluency is to, well, read.  However, if you’re studying French, don’t immediately reach for Proust’s “À la recherche du temps perdu.” That approach may simply frustrate and discourage.  Instead, begin with “Babar Le Petit Elefant” and move through “Astérix le Gaulois” before reaching for the harder material.

Despite this:

5) Challenge your technical understanding

If you want to use your language professionally, you need to understand the way in which field-specific terms are expressed.

If you are working on analyzing the construction of refugee camps in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, it would be useful to know the terms for water-borne pathogen. So make sure that while you are developing basic fluency that you are also learning vocabulary that will be beneficial to your career.

6) Don’t be Afraid

One of the major challenges in learning a foreign language is being worried about making mistakes.  Don’t worry, you will, so become comfortable with being misunderstood or embarrassed, the more mistakes you make initially, the more proper improvement you will see.

 

Language Learning I: The Why

Language Learning I: The Why

In conversations with alumni and employers, they often comment on the need for foreign policy professionals to know a second or third language. While this seems self-evident for professionals looking at working overseas in a non-English speaking environment, there are significant reasons why US-based practitioners would need to know a second-language.

1) It may be directly related to your job

There is field-specific importance given to particular languages.  For example, if one were to work in official development assistance programming in Mozambique, a working knowledge of Portuguese would be essential, and in many cases a necessity for employment.

This carries over to headquarters positions.  Search for Common Ground is recruiting an International Grants Officer that requires English and French fluency.

2) It is worth an additional salary bonus

Several economists have posited that there is an average 2% salary increase associated with knowing a language.

Over the course of a 40 year career, the Economist calculated that a professional could earn between $51,000 and $128,000 in additional salary due to language knowledge.  Given that salaries in the public policy have been consistent with inflation over the past several years, this is a significant bonus.

3) It can make you a better analyst

Recent studies have shown that bi-lingual learners have a heightened ability to monitor an environment.  While this has specific effects in monitoring a surrounding, it is not a far leap to think that this increased situational awareness would easily transfer to monitoring program effectiveness or working as a threat analyst.

4) It can help you multitask

Very few of us work in environments where we can concentrate on one task at a time.  Recent studies show that learning a second language improves the brain’s ability to concentrate on simultaneous tasks.  In an environment where staffers need to continuously increase their productivity, this is invaluable.

5) It can make you a better writer

Many of us last thought about grammar and vocabulary in our native tongue during our elementary school years.  By having to learn these rules anew in a second-language makes us more cognizant of the the full capabilities of language.  This makes us more easily able to write clearly and concisely for all audiences.

A Boren Fellowship is Never Bor[en]ing.

MAIR Student Perry Copes in Tajikistan

MAIR Student Perry Copes II in Tajikistan

Each year, the PAIA department is lucky enough to have a few successful Boren Applicants.  In addition to Darci Pauser, the department counts Mr. Perry Copes (MAIR ’15) among its Boren Fellows.  Perry is currently spending the year in Dushanbe, Tajikistan improving his Persian skills.  He gave the following interview to  Syracuse University’s Center for Fellowship and Scholarship Advising.

Perry Copes II, from Philadelphia, PA, is earning his MA in International Relations from the Maxwell School with a focus on Global Security and Emerging Markets. In 2013, he was selected for the Critical Language Scholarship Program to study Persian in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. While at SU, he worked as a graduate assistant for the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism (INSCT). He was recently selected as a Boren Fellow for the 2014-15 year and will be continuing his study of Persian in Tajikistan from September to May 2015. Perry has agreed to check in with us periodically for updates on his experience!

1-How did you become interested in this language and region of the world?

I’ve always had an interest international affairs and U.S. Foreign Policy. Before coming to Maxwell I interned in Washington D.C. at a public policy think tank focusing on international security. I developed an affinity towards my research dealing with Iran and Afghanistan, which culminated in my decision to study Persian since it is the language of this region.  Iran has a rich history and beautiful culture that has been disproportionately represented in western media. I wanted to learn more about this country and region outside the lens of traditional security matters. Persian is a “critical language” and by developing this linguistic proficiency, along with a regional expertise, I will be in better position to pursue a career with the U.S. Government.

2-You spent 2 months in Tajikistan in summer 2013. What are your thoughts as you settle in for 9 months of language study and cultural immersion?

I’ve been blessed with an amazing opportunity to dedicate an academic year to studying this language and culture. I feel much more prepared this time around because of my CLS experience in 2013. I know what my weaknesses are as a language student and plan to address them from the moment I step off the plane. Seeing how my language skills improved with just one summer gives me great confidence in what my abilities will be at the end of 9 months. As a student it’s often difficult to devote sufficient time to language study when you have other obligations due to a full course load; I can finally study Persian without the dark cloud of an economics test looming over my head! I know this will be a challenging experience but the gains in language proficiency and cultural expertise will be invaluable in my career. Lastly, I’ve heard Tajikistan can be a little rough in the winter, but that’s nothing that Syracuse hasn’t already prepared me for.

Perry Copes with two young Tajik citizens

Perry Copes II (MAIR ’15) with two young Tajik citizens

3-What will a typical day look like?

It depends on your personal study routine. I usually wake up around 7AM to review flashcards and eat breakfast. Speaking with my host family at the breakfast table serves as a warm-up for the day. I have class 4 hours per day Monday-Friday. When classes are over I rest for a little before starting my homework. Some days I will go to lunch with my language partner to practice speaking. I try to go out and interact with the community as much as I can.  Being exposed to the informal speech and colloquialisms in the community is a useful complement to the formal speech I am exposed to in the classroom. At the end of the day I go home and eat dinner with my host family. This is another chance to practice speaking before preparing for the next day. On the weekends I have down time where I go on cultural excursions, visit other cities in Tajikistan, or go to the bazaars to practice my bargaining skills.

4-Who is an interesting person that you’ve met?

I met the U.S. Ambassador to Tajikistan at my briefing in the embassy.  At the embassy’s 4th of July BBQ I met other expats and employees of the U.S. Foreign Service community. It’s always interesting to hear the different backgrounds represented from across the U.S.

5-What are your hopes and goals for this year?

My main goal is to improve my Persian skills as much as possible. Additionally, I want to become more culturally engaged through my interactions. Staying for an academic year allows me to be a cultural ambassador and represent the diversity that makes the U.S. great. Representing myself both as an American and as a minority in America, I will be able to introduce my background to a society that is largely unfamiliar. It’s this cultural exchange that will help break down the stereotypes people may have about parts of the world they have never been to.

6-Please share any advice for students interested in either the CLS or Boren programs.

First, really take the time to think about why you want these awards. CLS and/or Boren are very competitive and having this understanding will make your application essays strong. At Syracuse you have great resources at your disposal to put your best application forward. Reach out to faculty for their regional/cultural expertise, the SU Writing Center, and the Center for Fellowship and Scholarship Advising. Second, be sure to highlight how the skills gained from CLS and/or Boren are directly transferrable to your future careers. Be assertive and make a strong case for why you should receive this award. Third, do not wait until the last minute, and proofread your essays 2471943576987 times. Lastly, have an open mind. Long-term immersion can be challenging and your experience will likely be much different than what you are used to in the U.S. You must realize that at the end of the day you are there to experience their culture and not the other way around. Embracing these differences will give you perspectives that produce lifelong benefits.

Amrou Kotb (PA/IR ’13) – American University in Cairo

Editor’s Note: The following entry was written in the spring of 2014, during Amrou Kotb’s studies at the American University in Cairo through Syracuse University’s World Partner Programs.  Since completing his studies, Amrou has written extensively on American foreign policy in the region and the domestic political environment in Cairo

Continue reading

On the Ground in Ghana with the International Organization for Migration

2014 IOM Ghana summer interns

2014 IOM Ghana summer interns. Photo: Joanna Kitts for IOM

For the past several years, PAIA students have taken part in SU’s innovative partnership with the International Organization for Migration’s Mission in Accra, Ghana to develop the field skills needed for success as development and humanitarian workers. Continue reading

Wir bauen eine neue Bruecke!

Maxwell Students and Alumni in Berlin. Photo: Frederik Ferié

Maxwell Students and Alumni in Berlin. Photo: Frederik Ferié

Neither the Maxwell School nor Syracuse University has an official presence in Berlin in the same way as our Maxwell-in-Washington or SU in NYC.

However, over the past few years of involvement with the Atlantis transatlantic degree program, we have built a stronger network in one of the major political and economic centers of the European Union. Continue reading

What Language Should I Study?

“To prosper economically and to improve relations with other countries, Americans need to read, speak and understand other languages.”  U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, 8 December 2010.

While learning a second language is linked with a number of different benefits, including slowing brain aging, improving multitasking abilities, and the acquisition of another language, this somewhat elides the question of which language should one study for a career in public administration or international relations? Continue reading