Tag Archives: Africa

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.

Brittany Renner Experiences an Eye-Opening Moment Working for Migrant Rights

Brittany Renner is currently interning and studying in Washington, DC as part of the Maxwell-in-Washington program. She is a MAIR student in the Public Administration and International Affairs Department at the Maxwell School.

This Summer I completed the Geneva Practicum in Geneva, Switzerland. Even though I knew I wanted to do this program before I got into the Maxwell School, I learned so much more than I could have ever expected in the three months that I was there.

I received an internship position in the Director General’s Office of the International Organization for Migration under the supervision of the Senior Regional Advisor for Sub‑Saharan Africa. I spent my weeks at the IOM doing substantial work, including conducting independent research, attending United Nations conferences, and meeting with country ambassadors. My independent research focused on analyzing African visa policies and their economic and social impacts on African migrants and potential investors. It was eye-opening to work for migrants’ rights, and it was an opportunity to learn more about my region of focus. I even had the chance to present my research at an internal IOM staff meeting for constructive criticism before it was presented at the annual Intra-Regional Consultations on Migration and Labour Mobility within Africa meeting in Accra, Ghana. My internship was a crucial experience for me and my future career path in international development.

In the class component of the Practicum, I learned so much about not only the United Nations system, but also about the life of an international worker and what goes into choosing a career path in foreign service. Our group had class twice a week and during that time we had numerous presentations and meetings with officials from organizations such as UNICEF, UNHCR, Humanitarian Dialogue, and World Economic Forum. We also had the opportunity to learn about the history of Switzerland and how Geneva became a hub of international diplomacy.

We toured around the country learning about other important cities like Bern, Zurich, and Lucerne and were lucky enough to travel to Zermatt and experience an amazing up-close view with the famous Alps. Of course, on weekends we also were able to travel to other neighboring European countries like France, Italy and Germany. I would highly recommend this experience to anyone who is serious about potentially working in international relations organizations, especially the United Nations. It is truly a unique program with history, culture and professional experience waiting for you.

Caitlin Hoover, Brittany Renner, Hyeseul Hwang, and Program Director Dr. Werner Schleiffer(From left to right)
From left: Caitlin Hoover, Brittany Renner, Hyeseul Hwang, and Program Director Dr. Werner Schleiffer

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

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 On the Ground in Ghana with the International Organization for Migration

Getting Started in International Development

Remember that it is a marathon and not a sprint
Getting started in Development
Source: flickr.com

For those of you interested in working in the international development field, starting your search will involve more than just deciding on what the focus of your studies will be, but conceptualizing the development landscape to make sure that you are pointing your career search in the right direction.  Luckily, Michele Carter, an Association of Professional Schools in International Affairs (APSIA) aluma wrote an essay that can offer some additional tips to those of you interested in the field.

Continue reading Getting Started in International Development

Veronique Lee – A Summer in Kampala

Kampala's Taxi Park
Kampala’s Main Taxi Park
Source: V. Lee

Over the course of this summer, I had the opportunity to travel to Kampala to intern with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission in Uganda.  My internship placed me within the Office of Economic Growth, where I served as the climate change intern. The experience provided invaluable insight into the field of international development from the perspective of U.S. Government and other bilateral and multilateral donors. Continue reading Veronique Lee – A Summer in Kampala

Syracuse University Students Feature As NextGen Aid Workers

Each summer for the past several years, Syracuse University students have participated in the seminar program, “Current Issues in African Migration,” jointly offered by the International Organization for Migration and SU Abroad.  As part of this project in the summer of 2013, international relations graduate student Benjamin Albert was profiled by IOM’s blog as part of the Next Generation of Aid Workers. Continue reading Syracuse University Students Feature As NextGen Aid Workers