Category Archives: Global Programs

Keome R. Rowe, Managing Costs to Welcoming VIPs at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing

Keome & Ambassador
Keome Rowe and Ambassador Max Sieben Baucus

Mr. Keome R. Rowe is a graduate student in the department of Public Administration and International Affairs. He will be on campus in Syracuse during the Fall Semester of 2015.

This summer I had the pleasure to serve as a Charles B. Rangel Fellow at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, China. Since President Obama’s “ Pivot to Asia” announcement the U.S.-China relationship is one of the most important bilateral relationships—if not the most important. As an MPA/MAIR student I wanted to see the internal and external workings of the U.S. Mission to China from the management, political and public diplomacy section perspectives at the Embassy.

Management Section

I did a cost-benefit comparison of housing for diplomats, analyzing the conversion of landlord furnished housing to U.S. government furnished housing to judge which one had cost savings for U.S. taxpayers. This required me to do a series of interviews with diplomats, embassy staff, Chinese landlords and property management companies in Beijing to gather data. The skills I learned in public budgeting, policy implementation, Public Administration & Democracy and Public Organizations & Management came into great use. After analyzing my data, I presented my analysis and policy recommendations on cost effectiveness to the Minister Counselor for Management. Several of my recommendations will be implemented this fall! This particular project gave me the opportunity to see a specific aspect of the management section’s function at the Embassy.

Public Diplomacy Section

I teamed up with the State Department’s historian to thumb through countless pictures of past presidential bilateral meetings and create month long original content for the State Department’s social media accounts for Chinese President Xi Xinping’s first official visit to Washington later this month. This project allowed me to create original and informative content for the more than 2 million Department of State’s social media followers.

Political Section

Perhaps the most high profile project was helping the V.I.P. teams in the management and political teams prepare for the visit of National Security Advisor Susan Rice. I helped the advance team here at the Embassy and the Secret Service prepare all details for her visit. I also prepared most of the logistics and presentations for the visit AND was present for her arrival at the airport alongside Ambassador Baucus.

Conclusion

I learned that being a diplomat is never a dull moment! One day I could be conversing with Chinese landlords on property issues, visiting with members of U.S. Congress and/or officially receiving high profile foreign policy leaders!

Keome Rowe on the tarmac welcoming National Security Advisor Susan Rice
Keome Rowe on the tarmac welcoming National Security Advisor Susan Rice

To learn more about becoming a Charles B. Rangel Fellow, visit the program website.

Emily Fredenberg Assists UNDP with Health & Development

The following entry was drafted by Emily Fredenberg, a dual-degree MPA & MAIR student.

Emily Fredenberg – UNDP Health and Development Unit

This summer, I had the opportunity to intern with the United Nations Development Programme, within their Health and Development Unit in Geneva, Switzerland. As an intern, my work was divided between the unit’s focal point on non-communicable diseases, tobacco control, and the social and economic detriments of health, and a team specialist on UNDP’s partnership with the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.

Much of the work UNDP performs in-country specializes in government capacity building. At the headquarters level, the unit’s partnership team with the Global Fund serves an advisory function in that it provides technical support to UNDP country teams executing Global Fund grants. At country level, UNDP is selected as a principal grant recipient by the Global Fund in instances when a country does not have the capability to implement the grant themselves. As principal grant recipient, UNDP works simultaneously to implement a grant, as well as to build a country’s capacity to carry out Global Fund grants themselves. Currently, UNDP is principal recipient to Global Fund grants in 26 countries.

The UNDP Health and Development Unit in Geneva also specializes in non-communicable disease (NCD) policy. Much of this policy involves joint-programming initiatives with a number of other UN agencies and programmes, most prominently, the World Health Organization (WHO). UNDP and WHO are currently pursuing a joint NCD Governance Programme initiative. This programme is designed to enhance government capacity across government sectors by looking at NCDs more broadly, not only within the health sector. Such sectors include ministries of education, finance, agriculture, trade, and tourism with the ultimate goal of various ministries within a government working collaboratively to address the growing problem of NCDs. The Geneva team also works closely with the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in assisting countries to successfully implement and execute the framework.

Throughout the summer, my work was quite varied within the unit. I had the opportunity to attend the World Health Assembly, as well as several other thematic units at various UN agencies pertaining to health in development. I conducted targeted research with NCDs in capital infrastructure projects, examining ways large capital projects can affect the incidence of NCDs as well as solutions to mitigating the side-effects of such projects. I played an integral role in planning a South-South Triangular seminar with the FCTC, where countries in need of technical assistance implementing the FCTC framework could receive expertise from other countries willing and able to provide such. Additionally, two evenings a week I attended a class, as part of Maxwell’s Geneva Summer Practicum. During class, we often had presentations from various guest speakers of UN agencies, government missions, as well as NGOs.

My internship with UNDP certainly allowed me to get a fuller understanding of the intricacies of the UN system, and to develop my research, writing, and strategic planning skills. All in all, I had an amazing summer with the United Nations in Geneva. Geneva truly is a great city to spend the summer in, and I’m quite grateful for the experience I was able to have there.

Emily Fredenberg (left) and fellow intern at the World Health Organization in Geneva
Emily Fredenberg (left) and fellow intern at the World Health Organization in Geneva

Sarah White Harnesses Mobile Health Interventions with WHO

The following entry was drafted by Sarah White, a dual-degree MPA & MAIR student.

Sarah White – WHO, Non-Communicable Diseases department

I spent this summer in Switzerland interning with the World Health Organization (WHO) and studying as a part of Maxwell’s Geneva Summer Practicum. Being in Geneva allowed for personal access and insight into the inner workings of a large UN organization as well as exploring ways the international community comes together to tackle some of the biggest issues we face today.

As an intern at the WHO, I worked on a small team within the Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) department. Our team works jointly with another large international organization, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), on mobile-based health interventions designed to reinforce healthy habits and decrease the likelihood of NCD risks. Lots of these programs are focused on helping people quit smoking as tobacco use directly leads to health, economic, and social losses in every county no matter how rich or poor. You can find examples of these programs on the Be Healthy, Be Mobile website.

Mobile-based health interventions are new, exciting territories for health providers and governments. As technology continues to progress, the Internet becomes more accessible, and service costs decrease, there will be even more opportunities for mobile interventions. Yet the definitive proof is still yet to be found. Part of my internship this summer has been to identify best practices for these programs, figure out ways we can convince governments of their cost-effective benefits, and create a guide that will supplement their recruitment policies by using social media outreach.

Besides learning about the new ways technology is changing the way we think about behavioral health interventions, being at the WHO and in Geneva allows me to learn about many other organizations I had little interaction with before. The WHO constantly has talks from experts on different health challenges. The interns here also organize their own talks from experts and other interns to share what they are working on.

Perhaps the best part of the Maxwell class is this kind of introduction and exposure to the different work done by organizations around Geneva. Coming from the private sector I did not know much about international organizations and their roles in influencing global priorities. During this summer, we had Q&As with over 10 different organizations in Geneva. In today’s culture of “leaning in,” many of our guests included women in high positions, which was not only inspiring, but allowed us to ask candid questions about their experiences becoming leaders. You just can’t get this kind of access every day.

My summer in Geneva taught me a lot about the type of organization I wish to work for in the future, the kinds of leadership to look for, and challenged me to think critically about why and how we do the work we do. Many thanks to Professor Schleiffer, my Maxwell family, and the Cramer Global Programs for making this summer a reality!

Sarah White in front of the Matterhorn.
Sarah White in front of the Matterhorn.

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.

Professional Travel(lers)

Robertson Foundation Fellows Allison Carter Olsen, Tracie Hatch and Justin Gradek at the White House.
Robertson Foundation Fellows Allison Carter Olsen, Tracie Hatch and Justin Gradek at the White House. Photo Courtesy Justin Gradek

Professional Travel(lers)

The public administration and international relations careers that each of you may pursue could potentially require you to travel professionally.

Even though some of you may have extensive travel experience as tourists, exchange students, or international volunteers, I thought I would share a few tips from my recent travels over the past few years.

1) The cheaper flight is not necessarily the less expensive option.

Flying from a non-hub airport like Syracuse often means that the flight is going to be more expensive than one would like, particularly in comparison to flying out of a major international airport such as New York – Kennedy.

However, one should take into account the cost of getting to that alternate airport (it can cost anywhere from $100 to $300 to get from Syracuse to JFK and back, depending on transport and need for hotel), as well as the cost of the ancillary expenses for that flight (one of the marks of really affordable flights can be a late flight out of one city and an early one out of the next, so there might be a hotel room needed).

Professional travel budgets have been under pressure over the last several years, so do take a look at BBC America’s “Ten Tips for Cheap Airfares from the U.S. to the U.K,” but when you are looking at the flight, also calculate the cost above (as well as the cost of your own time).  It’s important to think about what your time is worth as:

2) You always have less time than you think

A conference weekend in Washington, DC is a great opportunity to spend Friday engaged in meetings, and Saturday and Sunday at the conference.

“Land at DCA on Friday at 7, first meeting at 8:30 off K Street, second at 9 on Dupont Circle, then to Main State by 10.” It sounds like a great itinerary designed to maximize face time and get a lot of good information.

However, one must remember to build in travel time between sites.  Despite your best efforts, it will take you more than five minutes to get from the State Department’s C Street Headquarters to USAID’s premises in the Ronald Reagan Building, even if you take a cab.

Also, it is likely that meetings will run long, your meeting partners will be delayed, or you’ll get engaged in a good conversation.

Despite this, make sure you:

3) Plan your days well

If you’re looking to meet with a number of people (such as on a networking trip), have an idea on who you want to meet with ahead of time, set a time and a location and most importantly get a phone number in case you are running late.  Depending on the city or their transportation systems, you might not be able to send an email to your contact if they are already on the way or have not joined the Smartphone set.

 

 

 

Clearing a Hurdle

Clearing the Main Hurdle

Picture of Track Hurdle
Not these Hurdles

Many of you who are entering the U.S. government, particularly in the foreign policy and security policy fields, will have to go through the security clearance process. This process, while intimidating, should rarely be a cause for concern and there are a number of steps you can take to make the process as easy as possible. Please note that this is general information. If your hiring authority provides different information, consider that to supercede the information below.

What is Security Clearance?

Holding a U.S. government security clearance allows an employee to access classified information. Clearances are issued at three levels, confidential, secret, and top secret. At each level, clearance holders have access to different types of information on the basis of their job duties. Different agencies have levels within Top Secret (including TS/SCI – allowing access to Sensitive Compartmentalized Information or SAP – Special Access Program Information). They may also call it something different than Top Secret clearance, such as the Department of Energy’s “Q” clearance.

What is the Goal of the Process?

The primary purpose of the clearance is to determine whether a job candidate is determined to be able to maintain classified information. The government is looking for trustworthy applicants with high levels of reliability, loyalty, and character.

What does the Process Look Like?

Once a federal agency extends a conditional employment offer, the agency human resources contact will provide information about the necessary paperwork for clearance positions. This is usually centered around Standard Form (SF) 86, the Questionnaire for National Security Positions. This information on the form is for the last 10 years (although some forms will list the last ten years or until 18, whichever is closer), detailing residences, jobs, contacts, legal issues, education and much more.

In addition the SF-86, agencies may require fingerprints, personal interviews, credit examinations, polygraph test, or other additional materials at the request of the agency. This can often be a lot of material.

How Long Does It Take?

It is challenging to predict how long each clearance case will take, as each individual investigation is unique. However, when the hiring Department issues the clearance paperwork and a prospective employee completes the paperwork correctly and promptly, the time allocated is usually sufficient.

Are Clearances Transferable?

Possibly. According to the State Department, clearances are normally accepted by other agencies if the investigation was completed in the last 10 years (5 years for Top Secret Clearance) and there has been no more than a two year break in service.

 

Do I need to take a polygraph test?

For a secret level clearance, generally no polygraph test is needed. However, this may be necessary, based on the needs and policies of the hiring authority.

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.

Gustavo Zanabria – United Nations Economic Council on Latin America and the Caribbean

Mr. Gustavo Zanabria is a graduate student in the department of Public Administration and International Affairs.  He will be on campus in Syracuse during the fall semester of 2014.

It was a great experience to complete a twelve-week internship at Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in Santiago, Chile. This international organization is one of five regional commissions of the United Nations.  It was founded with the purpose of contributing to the economic development of Latin America. The commission coordinates actions directed towards this objective, including promoting the region´s social development and reinforcing economic ties among other nations of the world. Continue reading Gustavo Zanabria – United Nations Economic Council on Latin America and the Caribbean

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