Tag Archives: Asia

Ashley Saulcy Works on Political Transition in Nepal

Ashley Saucy is a current Master of Arts in International Relations (MAIR) student at the Maxwell School. 

I arrived in Kathmandu, Nepal at 6:30 in the morning, and by 8:30, I was already at work with The Asia Foundation (TAF) as the new summer program intern. The whirlwind entry to the country was quickly followed by an introduction to programming that is defining key national policy discourses in Nepal. In my first week alone, I attended the TAF-supported release of the annual national trafficking in persons report and a policy dialogue on legal and regulatory challenges associated with the political transition, both inclusive of a wide set of international and national stakeholders. Needless to say, I was amazed to so suddenly find myself in the midst of policymaking spaces in one of the most exciting transitional political environments for practitioners and scholars of development.

Since the 2015 earthquake and the subsequent signing of the Constitution, Nepal has been experiencing a massive political transition towards a federalist system with three new tiers of government: central, provincial, and municipal. The creation of municipalities—and the constitutional delegation of powers primarily to the municipal and provincial levels—is emboldening local government in a way unseen since the early 1990s. The country has undergone two rounds of local elections so far, which will soon be followed by a third round.

The dynamics under Nepal’s political transition present an interesting challenge for development practitioners to be proactive and responsive to a system that is still characterized by unknowns politically, economically, and legally. My assignment to work primarily under TAF’s program to support the new subnational governance structures became a unique vantage point to understand the incredible breadth and depth of policymaking spaces that require engagement for successful decentralization.

Ashley Saulcy

One of my initial responsibilities was coordination of a new program partnership with organizations specifically focused on the empowerment of newly elected women leaders. Despite quotas in elected bodies, the political participation of women—particularly from low castes—in the Nepali system is still limited. My work with a partner organization has included conceptualization of the research approach and framework for responding to the identified capacity gaps and priorities. More broadly, the work has exposed me in more depth to the specific gender equality and social inclusion frameworks that organizations like TAF are using to understand the cross-cutting nature of marginalization. The experience has ingrained a deep appreciation for inclusivity as an overarching philosophy to the TAF office in Nepal.

My role broadened in the program to include work on building the program’s comprehensive monitoring, evaluation, and learning dashboard, as well as significant contributions to the inception report. In both projects, it has been exceptionally engaging and rewarding to be strategically thinking through and contributing to the way that the program’s theory of change can backstop the delegation of power to municipal governments.

I came to Nepal with a passion for engaging questions on governance, and have been invigorated with the strategic thinking of professionals that deeply understand the Nepali context. The exciting research and work on political dynamics and transition that I have found here have set a new personal standard for mindfulness, creativity, and excitement for engagement in developing contexts.

Ashley Saulcy

Emily Ma Finds Taiwan Unforgettable While at Foreign Commercial Service

Emily Ma wrote this post while interning in Taiwan during the fall of 2016. She also interned at United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) during the summer of 2016, where she was posted in Turkey for a time. After graduating with her MAIR degree, she landed a job at USCIS.

Emily Ma (3rd from left) with AIT Director, Kin Moy (4th from left) and other interns

This fall, I was able to travel to Taipei, Taiwan to intern for the American Institute in Taiwan, Commercial Section. The American Institute in Taiwan is the de-facto embassy for the United States in Taiwan, created under the Taiwan Relations Act after the United States acknowledged China’s “One-China Policy.” The functioning of AIT is no different than a typical American Embassy other than the fact that the titles of the officers are slightly different. For example, the “ambassador” is called the “director” of the Institute.

The Commercial Section is run under the Commerce Department rather than the State Department, meaning that in our lobby, we have framed pictures of President Obama and Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker rather than Secretary of State John Kerry. The purpose of the Foreign Commercial Service (FCS) is to provide assistance to U.S. Firms hoping to export abroad, or foreign entities looking to invest into the United States. Although there are other groups such as the U.S. Trade Representative, and the Economics section of the State Department, The FCS provides assistance to individual companies for a minimal fee. The fee is simply to allow the Commercial Section, an entity representing the U.S. government, to assist one individual company without providing assistance to all other U.S. companies (although it is available once the basic fee is paid).

As an intern, I have been able to attend meetings with both U.S. and Taiwan representatives of the public and private sector. I have assisted with several trade shows in which American companies have taken part in, and have done thorough research on the burgeoning activity in the area of smart city technology.

Taiwan itself is a beautiful island with friendly locals. Commercially, it is the gateway to Asia. Amidst the fierce competition, as firms try to enter China, many overlook Taiwan. Developed, and with close ties to China, Taiwan businesses are eager to diversify their portfolio, and are always looking for something new.

Whether it is for tourism, or business, Taiwan is definitely not a place to forget.

Global Programs in China:

SU Beijing

Summer Internships in Shanghai

Phuong Ha, CSIS’ Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative

Phuong Ha is a recent alumni who graduated with a MAIR degree in December 2016. He wrote this post about his experience interning at CSIS during the 2016 Summer Semester. In the end, he interned at CSIS during his final Fall Semester as well. During both semesters he completed his MAIR degree by taking evening courses at the Maxwell­-in-Washington campus located in the same building as CSIS.

For this summer, I am currently interning at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and working with the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI). The experience has been life changing thus far.

As a research intern, I contribute to the long-term research projects of not only AMTI, but the Southeast Asia program and Japan Chair as well. AMTI covers all Asia maritime disputes ranging from the Indian Ocean to the Sea of Okhotsk. Although, we heavily focus on the South China Sea and East China Sea issues given their rising tensions, and simultaneously pay attention to other “subtle” disputes such as the Kuril Islands/Northern Territories dispute between Russia and Japan.

In greater detail, we monitor the evolvement of these disputes by scouring media for news and tracking government statements either via news reporting agencies or foreign affairs websites. One would be surprised with how many government and foreign affairs’ web pages do not work or contain severely outdated content. Another interesting component of my internship involves analyzing satellite imagery of contested maritime features in the South China Sea. By checking Digital Globe daily and comparing newly released imagery to older versions, we strive to identify the development and status of those features, which can help with the Initiative’s analysis. Other duties include updating social media outlets, staging information of mapping tools on the website, and providing general administrative support at AMTI, Japan Chair, and Southeast Asia’s events.

As one of the most prominent think tanks in the world, CSIS is far from being an unwelcoming place for staff, interns, or guests. I have had incredible opportunities to interact with both resident and non-residents and visiting fellows from all over the world within my Asia department. Likewise, other staff members from different programs and departments are quite friendly and approachable. More importantly, everyone at CSIS is highly professional when it comes to international affairs. Even though I have less chance to directly interact with senior fellows or advisers simply due to their busy schedules and inherent variations of each program, I have always felt acknowledged and appreciated whenever I can afford such an opportunity.

This experience has indeed been a dream came true. I truly appreciate my opportunity to intern for such a great security think tank, where I have been exposed and observed the process of world class foreign policy engagement and research.

The Honorable Ted Osius, U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam (left) and Phuong Ha. The Ambassador visited CSIS on June 8, 2016.

The Honorable Ted Osius, U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam (left) and Phuong Ha. The Ambassador visited CSIS on June 8, 2016.

Learn more about the Maxwell-in-Washington program

Rosalina Jowers Explores Stewardship in Asia

Rosalina Jowers is a second year graduate student in the joint MAIR/MSPR Public Diplomacy program. She was a research assistant for the Public Relations department of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and is currently a research assistant in the Tully Center for Free Speech during the fall of 2016. She participated in the Singapore Summer Internship Program during the summer of 2016 and interned with the Stewardship Asia Centre.

This summer, I had the opportunity to intern with the Stewardship Asia Centre in Singapore. Throughout my three months in the position, I worked as both a research assistant and a public
relations and marketing intern for the team.

SAC is a thought-leadership center based in Singapore that conducts research and holds regional events to advocate for corporate stewardship, governance, and responsibility in the private sector. The center holds an annual event inviting international business leaders, CEOs, investors, and government officials to discuss best practices, challenges, and emerging themes that impact corporate stewardship and add to the existing literature. Within their Knowledge Center, SAC produces white papers, media articles, and has recently published a book about the necessity and prevalence of stewardship internationally.

Due to the small size of my team, I played a multifaceted position and was able to become thoroughly involved in various roles. My primary role was to contribute to SAC’s Knowledge Center by conducting research about stewardship in regards to cultural differences, family businesses, and sovereign wealth funds. I compiled my findings into three separate research articles that will be published within the Knowledge Center and used for future book publications and media articles.

Secondly, I worked with SAC’s public relations team in event planning, media relations, and brief writing. SAC’s annual roundtable event was held towards the end of my internship, and I was able to help with the planning, implementation and evaluation of our media and event strategies. I helped pitch and coordinate with media personnel, assist in interviews with key speakers, and ensure the smooth running of the event. For SAC itself, I was able to create the
event insights report, informational videos about the center and the event, and also create briefs for the center’s CEO for his regional speaking platforms promoting stewardship and CSR.

Lastly, I worked with the marketing team in promoting the center’s first publication, Inspiring Stewardship. In collaborating with the book’s publisher, Wiley Asia, I helped create a marketing plan for both the regional and international promotion of the book, communicate with key media contacts in Singapore, and plan a book launch event that will be held in Singapore this upcoming fall.

Aside from the valuable experience I gained throughout these varying roles, I was able to network with a variety of top executives from the Southeast Asia region to expand my network and acquire valuable contacts for the future. Thankfully and because of this experience, I gained valuable insights into the work, social and political environment of Singapore, and was able to explore the region unlike I have ever been able to before.

Rosalina Jowers at Temasek's Stewardship Asia Centre

Rosalina Jowers at Temasek’s Stewardship Asia Centre

Charlene Cordero Learns How the Private Sector Advances Public Policy

Charlene Cordero is currently taking advantage of Maxwell’s World Partner Program with Sciences Po in Paris, France, where she is taking graduate courses and honing her French language skills even more.

This summer I worked as a Global Fellow at the Podesta Group (PG) in Washington, D.C. As an international security student with substantial work experience in be public sector, I wanted to spend the summer learning how the private sector can aid foreign and sovereign entities in advancing their public policy interests in Washington. PG allowed me to work closely with an exceptional team of public policy experts, dive into foreign policy issues that I would usually not be exposed to, and perfect my memo writing skills.

Though the caliber of PG and its staff made it a great workplace, the relationships I forged with my coworkers and other fellows became my favorite part of working at PG. I have honestly never worked somewhere where I felt so validated. Every time I completed a task or wrote a memo and sent them to the team, principals would reply lauding my good work and thorough memos. I often felt like my work did not call for such praise, as most went through numerous rounds of edits and comments with the team. But, the fact that the principals would take a few moments to reply how much they – and by extension the clients – appreciated my work made the whole experience a whole lot more fruitful.

Another great experience came from the exposure to issue areas that I would normally not know much about. At Maxwell – and for most of my life, if we’re being honest – I’ve strongly focused on Western Hemisphere issues due to my Dominican background and upbringing in the Caribbean. However, over the summer I learned more about the South China Sea dispute than I ever thought I would know. The research I did at PG allowed me to really learn about the conflict, the actors and issues at play and the potential international outcomes and reactions. I remember musing over the excitement I felt as I waited for the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague and the potential reactions of China, the Philippines, and the United States. That was something I did not expect to learn this summer!

My summer at Podesta was a great introduction to the work the private sector can do in advancing public policy. I’m humbled and honored at the work I completed and relationships I forged and leave DC ready to apply my newfound memo writing skills and South China Sea expertise at the Maxwell school.

CCM-PG

Charlene Cordero with Shelby Jamerson, Global Fellow and Alyssa Hassett, International Policy Analyst. Charlene's closest coworkers PG.

Charlene Cordero with her closest coworkers at PG: Shelby Jamerson, Global Fellow and Alyssa Hassett, International Policy Analyst

Charlene Cordero at the Podesta Group

Charlene Cordero at the Podesta Group

Learn more about the Maxwell-in-Washington program