Tag Archives: Fall

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

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

Matt Kienzle Joins Team at GAO in DC

Matt Kienzle is a former teacher pursuing the MPA/MAIR to facilitate a career change. He began working at the U.S. GAO last summer and has taken evening courses as part of the Maxwell-in-Washington program.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has a boring name. Thankfully, it was not a boring place to have a summer internship. GAO is a Federal Government oversight agency that has Congressional authority to investigate any agency or program where Federal money is spent. I was fortunate to secure an internship at an agency that does meaningful work, employs good people, and allowed me freedom to produce quality products.

I was placed on the Leadership and Executive Development Program Team in the agency’s Learning Center, and immediately assigned to complete useful and visible long-term projects. During my first week, I was tasked with analyzing the effectiveness of the nineteen Leadership Development courses at GAO, mandatory for all employees promoted to management, and presenting recommendations to senior staff about how to improve them.

The project required me to utilize many of the skills that are taught and reinforced at Maxwell. I gathered both quantitative and qualitative data to determine which courses were functioning as intended, which could be improved, and why. I attended many of the courses to better understand how they function in practice, a technique that had the added benefit of allowing me to take courses that are only open to managers.

Another reason my experience at GAO was positive is that the team I worked with was very supportive and allowed me to independently complete tasks. I was given assignments and projects, and expected to complete them in a timely and competent manner. Autonomy allows me to produce better work because I feel greater ownership over the product. For example, twice a year, the agency hosts a Leadership Speaker Series, which brings experts in the leadership field to GAO to present to employees. My supervisor granted me the responsibility to identify the speaker, negotiate terms, and organize logistics for the agency-wide event.

Since I was primarily working on projects independently, I quickly learned that I was expected to meaningfully contribute during team meetings and update coworkers on my progress. Initially, it was an intimidating prospect, and doubly so because GAO is a fairly complex agency that can be difficult to understand. Despite the learning curve, it was satisfying to reach a level of familiarity with the agency, and to engage in projects in which I was responsible for calling meetings both to discuss my progress and solicit opinions.

Overall, my experience at GAO was highly positive and I am looking forward to an opportunity to return in the future.

Matt Kienzle in front of the GAO

Matt Kienzle in front of the GAO

Learn more about the Maxwell-in-Washington program

Kyra Murphy Forgoes DOS Internship for Language Training with No Regrets

Kyra Murphy is a joint MPA/MAIR student who worked as a graduate policy fellow with the National Security Network (NSN) in Washington, DC  during the Summer 2015 semester . She was also Head Intern at the National Security Studies Program at the Maxwell School under with Col. Bill Smullen (Ret.) and Executive Director Sue Virgil during the Fall semester 2015.

Originally, I had planned to be in New York City for the Fall 2015 Semester of my 2nd year working toward the MPA/MAIR Degrees. My internship with the U.S. Department of State at the permanent mission to the United Nations was confirmed and I could not have been more excited! Then, things changed. Unfortunate circumstances and wonderful new opportunities resulted in my decision to forget NYC and come back to Syracuse for the Fall Semester. My decision was primarily influenced by the announcement that I had been awarded a national Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship for South Asian studies. This opportunity meant that I would have the chance to begin studying new languages, both Hindi and Urdu, as well as return to my former graduate fellowship position working at the National Security Studies program with Col. Bill Smullen (Ret.) and Executive Director Sue Virgil.

To my surprise, my decision ended up being one without any regrets. Even though the chance to work at the U.S. Mission to the UN would have been an unbelievable opportunity, I truly believe that I made the right choice. Now, I have the opportunity to expand my language skills even further, and have applied for a Boren Fellowship to spend the next year in India researching nuclear policy. I am even more marketable for when I begin my job search, as I have two additional critical languages to add to my former experience in Turkish. Finally, I am working as the Brady K. Fellow for the National Security Studies program and have been able to acquire skills in administration, logistics, strategy, and overall organization management.

The U.S. State Department will always have internship opportunities, but incredible fellowships don’t come around very often. I am thankful that I had wonderful mentors and advisors at the Maxwell School to help me make the right decision.

Kyra Murphy, MPA/MAIR studnet

Kyra Murphy

Rachel Coolican,”There was much for me to learn about OSD Policy and the inner workings of the Pentagon.”

Ms. Rachel Coolican is a recent graduate of the MAIR program, and spent her last fall semester interning with the European & NATO Policy Office of the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.

Pantagon Intern name plate of Rachel Coolican

Pentagon name plate

During the Fall 2015 semester, I had the honor and privilege of interning with OSD EUR/NATO Policy at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. Within the office, I worked specifically with “Team North-West Europe” and directly supported the Desk Officers of the Nordic Portfolio covering Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Denmark.

As a subset of the International Security Affairs division within OSD Policy, Europe and NATO Policy assists the ISA’s Assistant Secretary of Defense (Ms. Elissa Slotkin) in her mission to manage defense relations with all foreign governments and international organizations within the office’s jurisdiction. This includes developing and maintaining: regional security and defense strategies, subsequent functional policies, foreign military sales, education and training, and comprehensive relationships with multilateral, regional, and bilateral partners.

As I mentioned, throughout my time in EUR/NATO, I assisted with all duties performed by desk officers on the North and West Europe team to develop strategies and policies with our Nordic Allies. This included: organizing and supporting meetings between senior Department of Defense (DoD) and European officials; planning and implementing an annual bilateral studies group meeting that set the coming year’s goals for advancing security; routinely interacting with relevant embassy counterparts in Washington and abroad; providing policy analysis to senior DoD officials regarding current events; constructing various written preparatory deliverables to senior leadership; attending inter-agency meetings and crafting after-action reports; and providing any requested support to the ASD of ISA, the USD for Policy, and Secretary Carter himself.

There was much for me to learn about OSD Policy and the inner workings of the Pentagon. This internship was great because I was able to work with passionate and trusting teammates and supervisors, who allowed me to do substantial work for senior leadership in order to get the full experience of being a desk officer.  My favorite part of the internship was being able to attend a myriad of meetings that focused on current events (one being with Deputy Secretary of Defense, Bob Work!) and building strong personal relationships with foreign embassy counterparts. These things allowed me to become more knowledgeable in U.S. strategic planning, and how the DoD works with partners to advance U.S. goals at the betterment of our partners. This will be a professional experience that I will never forget, and I now have a network of colleagues and friends who I know I will be in touch with for years to come!

Rachel Coolican(Maxwell MAIR Student Headshots 2014)

Rachel Coolican

Pentagon

The Pentagon with Washington, DC in the background.

Learn more about the Maxwell-in-Washington program

Small Staff, Tight Budget-Challenges Carla Nodi Faced at UN Women in Chile

As an International Relations student focusing on women’s rights, I had the privilege of working with UN Women during my semester in Santiago, Chile. Chilean President Michelle Bachelet was actually the inaugural director of the organization in 2011, which makes the shared office space, small staff of four women, and equally small budget primarily sourced from the European Union an interesting challenge.

As an intern, I was responsible for facilitating internal operations through research, document drafting, and excel database development. I supported project implementation through inter-agency collaboration, communication with community stake-holders, and management of event logistics. I was able to participate in international campaigns such as the UNiTE campaign against gendered violence and the HeForShe campaign promoting an inclusive approach to gender equality; as well as domestic projects focusing on increased female political participation and leadership; street harassment; and closing the gendered wage gap in Chile.

In our world, 1 in every 3 women globally experiences physical or sexual violence. Millions of girls are being denied the opportunity to study, and two thirds of the illiterate population is made up of girls. Women struggle to enter the workforce, to be taken seriously, to rise to positions of leadership, and a significant wage gap leaves women more vulnerable to poverty. Only 22% of national parliaments are comprised of women, with only 11 serving as heads of state and 13 as heads of government. Women are disproportionately affected by health issues related to poverty, malnutrition, HIV/AIDS, domestic violence, war, and lack of reproductive rights.

Organizations such as United Nations Women become ever more critical in the global fight for equal access to education and quality health care; the right to equal wages and the ability to actively participate, serve, and lead in our political systems; the right to live without fear of violence and harassment. I am incredibly grateful for the perspective I have gained during this semester and I hope to see both the financial resources and program capacity of this young organization grow as the world begins to recognize the need to prioritize women’s rights for the benefit of society.

Carla Nodi (far right) holding up a UN women Sign in Santiago

Carla Nodi (far right) holding up a UN Women Sign in Santiago

 

 

Emily Fredenberg, UN Network for Scaling Up Nutrition Secretariat in Rome

Emily Fredenberg is a dual-degree MPA & MAIR student. She interned with the United Nations Development Programme, within their Health and Development Unit in Geneva, Switzerland during the summer. She came back to Syracuse to continue her studies after finishing her internship with  the United Nations Network for Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Secretariat.

Emily Fredenberg (left) with fellow intern at the WFP Headquarters in Rome, Italy

Emily Fredenberg (left) with fellow intern at the WFP Headquarters in Rome, Italy

This autumn, I had the opportunity to intern with the United Nations Network for Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Secretariat, hosted by the headquarters of the UN World Food Programme in Rome, Italy.  As an intern, my function was to support the global-level work of the UN Network for SUN Secretariat, in its coordination and facilitation functions amongst the main UN agencies principally working on nutrition.

Overview of the Roles of the SUN Movement, the UN Network for SUN, & REACH within the Global Nutrition Landscape: The Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement is a global initiative, aiming to spur political action and investment among both national government leaders as well as development partners, to improve maternal and child nutrition.  SUN focuses on investing targeted action for the first 1,000 days between a woman’s pregnancy and her child’s second birthday. Poor nutrition during this period can result in irreversible consequences for a child, such as stunted growth or impaired cognitive development.  Therefore this short window of time can have life-changing impacts on a child’s health throughout the entire life-cycle as well as their ability to break the cycle of poverty for their families and communities.

SUN is a country-led movement (currently present in 55 participating countries), bringing various stakeholders together, across the different SUN Networks which include government, civil society, UN, and the private sector, to support national efforts to scale up nutrition.  This multi-stakeholder approach fosters greater coordination and access to technical and financial resources which are necessary to galvanize nutrition action.  The SUN Movement focuses on encouraging the implementation of key nutrition-interventions (such as the promotion of breast-feeding), as well as the integration of nutrition into the broader policy efforts of relevant government sectors such as health, agriculture, education, social protection, sanitation, and women’s empowerment.

At the national level, there is frequently a lack of coordination and capacity to develop a multi-sectoral, multi-stakeholder approach. Hence, nutrition activities can remain fragmented and uncoordinated, and result in duplicative efforts with limited impact. In order to facilitate coordination, the work of the SUN Movement is synchronized amongst the various SUN Networks, including the work of the UN Network for SUN.  The UN Network was endorsed in June 2013 by five UN Agencies principally working in nutrition related issues (FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP and WHO). The Network serves to: harmonize and coordinate UN activities in support of country nutrition efforts, and to align UN nutrition efforts with those of national governments, other SUN Networks and nutrition stakeholders at global and country levels.

Renewed Efforts Against Child Hunger and Undernutrition (REACH) is an essential component of the UN Network for SUN, and provides participating governments with impartial coordinateon and analytical support to simplify administrative mechanisms. It further allows UN Network agencies to focus their efforts on the technical aspects of nutrition.  REACH’s neutral facilitation takes the shape of a national and international nutrition facilitator, which work directly with the national government to foster greater country-led stakeholder engagement, with the aim of progressing the level of national commitment for nutrition efforts.  Currently, REACH facilitation is present within 17 SUN countries.

UN Network for SUN/REACH Secretariat Internship Roles:  As the UN Network for SUN Secretariat works to coordinate the efforts amongst the participating UN agencies, the Secretariat also facilitated an interagency workshop on the UN’s approach to Capacity Development Assessments the first week of November.  Currently, most UN Network agencies conduct their own assessments, and this workshop was designed to harmonize these assessments as a collaborative UN Network for SUN approach to capacity building efforts.

As my principal internship project, I worked to facilitate a colleague from FAO to firstly conduct a pre-workshop analysis, by 1) mapping the existing UN assessment tools, 2) drafting a capacity development framework based upon the various UN assessment methodologies, and 3) conducting a country case study analysis of previous assessments conducted to get a better sense of how these assessments could be improved to better leverage country level capacity.  Through workshop discussions, we were able to finalize the draft framework, and also agreed to create a harmonized guidance package for countries interested in conducting assessments.  I additionally assisted in this development process, though the final guidance package will not be complete until this coming spring 2016.

Overall, my internship with the UN Network for SUN Secretariat certainly allowed me to get a fuller understanding of the intricacies of the UN system, particularly with regards to inter-UN agency collaboration efforts specific to nutrition. It also helped to further develop my research, writing, and strategic planning skills.  All in all, I had an amazing semester with the Secretariat in Rome.  Rome truly is a great city, and I’m quite grateful for the experience I was able to have there.

Kim Hyunjong, Strengthening Relationships Between ROK & USA at Korean Embassy

Hyunjong Kim was an MAIR student who graduated in December 2015. He wrote this post last fall while still interning. While completing his coursework in Syracuse, he also worked as a Research Assistant  in the Korean Peninsula Affairs Center (KPAC) of the Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs.

Kim Hyunjong, standing in Korean Ambassador's residence in Washington D.C.

Hyunjong Standing in the Korean Ambassador’s residence in Washington D.C.

Established in 1949 in Washington D.C., the heart of international politics, The Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the USA has engaged in and continued its efforts to strengthen the relationship between ROK and the U.S. and deepen the bilateral cooperation in addressing local, regional, and global challenges. Its missions are to (1) improve the rights and interests of Koreans in the U.S., (2) advance the bridge between ROK and the U.S., which helps expand the understanding of each country’s politics, economy, and cultures, and (3) display ROK’s responsibility and accountability as a member of the international community.

The political section, where I am currently interning, carefully follows diplomat relations, multilateral negotiations and announcements where the U.S. is engaged in. Also, the main duties of the research team in the political section are to (1) research on political/foreign policy issues, (2) analyze and report on think tank seminars and publications on international affairs, (3) analyze and report on relevant statements, briefings, and publications released by the U.S. government, and (4) translate various documents from English to Korean and vice versa in order to report to the headquarters, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Seoul.

I have been very impressed by how hard and diligent all of the diplomats and researchers work in promoting the relationship between ROK and the U.S. I was also surprised by the dynamic daily assignments I have every day, which is far from my initial expectations based on my previous experience in a bureaucratic system. Working with passionate and energetic people who are equipped with sufficient knowledge and understanding about issues I am interested in, always motivates and encourages me to navigate what I should focus on. Also, I am able to learn what is needed to improve myself and what I am confident in. I’ve learned that it is important to understand that my work would contribute to making ROK a better place.

The positive point of an internship with the Korean embassy is the ability to expand my personal networks, which brings me to achieve much information that I wouldn’t have been able to gain if I didn’t work here. By working with colleagues, I am able to hear from what characteristics are needed to be foreign affair officers. In addition to that, I am able to learn how to see things thoroughly while keeping one’s own view when communicating with foreign counterparts. Also, when there are issues that capture many international actors’ attention such as the Iran nuclear agreement or ASEAN forum, I try to ask how diplomats view these incidents. By doing so, I have a better understanding of what perspective Korea should maintain.

Another advantage of working at the embassy is that I have a chance to attend various seminars where regional experts attend and comprehend what their views are. Also, learning personal attitudes to other people is also one benefit that I have learned.

Diplomats’ understanding of global issues and foreign affairs are very crucial, and I am honored to witness those personalities in person. Working at the embassy is one of the unforgettable experiences that I have done. I am also able to bring my academic knowledge when I ask questions of diplomats who have an active role in practical fields.

Learn more about the Maxwell-in-Washington program

After helping to organize the U.S. Gala Dinner at which Korean president's visited, Hyunjong and other interns are taking a picture to memorize this moment

After helping to organize the U.S. Gala Dinner at which the Korean President visited, Hyunjong (center) and other interns took a picture to remember this moment.

Kim Hyunjong ,other interns and researchers in Korean Ambassador's residence

Kim Hyunjong ,other interns, and researchers in Korean Ambassador’s residence

Hyunjong in front of Korean Ambassador's residence in Washington D.C.

Hyunjong in front of Korean Ambassador’s residence in Washington D.C.

Beth Gawne Tackles Security & Nonproliferation at the State Department in DC

Beth Gawne is enjoying her life in Washington D.C.

Beth Gawne is enjoying her life in Washington D.C.

Beth Gawne spent three years teaching English in rural Japan before coming to the Maxwell School. She is a joint MPA/MAIR student who will finish with two degrees. She interned at the United States Department of State in Washington, DC and is a regular contributor to the PAIA Insider blog.

“And they will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war anymore.” –Isaiah 2:4

This is a quote I saw often in a hallway of the Harry S Truman building of the State Department while I spent my Fall Semester learning about nonproliferation efforts in the US. This quote was written as a mural on the wall of the floor I worked on, and across from it was an image of a mushroom cloud from the first successful nuclear test of the Manhattan Project. It gave me inspiration and motivation as I worked in the front office of the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation (ISN), sitting in on meetings with high-level diplomats and representatives from the government, taking notes, and organizing briefing documents for the Assistant Secretary.

My time in the State Department provided me a 30,000-ft view of what the US does to prevent nuclear, biological, and chemical materials from being used as weapons, and instead to focus those efforts on peaceful means. I learned that these efforts range from formal treaties and conventions, to interdiction and export control, to even helping scientists overseas to prevent accidents or theft of dangerous materials. Even more, I learned about the slow moving machine that is the bureaucracy meant to ensure that these efforts are consistent and properly coordinated. I realized that without this, our government would spend its time responding to the latest crisis and be unable to do anything else long-term.

My job itself had me working alongside other staff assistants to make sure the leadership of the bureau was prepared for meetings and events. I got to see what makes a strong leader within the government, and I had the opportunity to work with some of the most engaging, kind, and supportive people I have ever met. I even was given a chance to do a few projects in other offices, helping with detailed data collection that was going to be used to impact a real problem on the ground. Knowing I was involved in something that would make a difference was probably one of the best parts of the internship overall. I wasn’t making copies and running to Starbucks; I was helping to communicate an argument for NATO or inform bureau officers of a country’s stance on an issue.

I was most impressed with the quality of the leadership within the bureau, and for people who have such important and high-level jobs, everyone was down-to-earth and welcoming. I’m excited to see what my future holds, and hopefully my path will cross with ISN once again— even if I’m not directly working there.

Read Beth’s latest contribution to the PAIA Insider blog:
Life as a Returning 2nd Year Student, AKA: Should you do a dual degree?

Learn more about the Maxwell-in-Washington program

Beth Gawne with friends in Washington D.C.

Beth Gawne with friends in Washington D.C.

Beth Gawne standing in front of mural on the wall of the State Department

Beth Gawne standing in front of mural on the wall of the State Department

Ryan Drysdale Gains First-Hand Info on US Foreign Policy Impacts in Chile

Ryan Drysdale spent his Summer and Fall Semesters in Santiago, Chile, improving his Spanish, interning at TechnoServe and taking courses through SU’s university partnerships. He is a MAIR student.

Chilean Diego Rivera, Maxwell MPA alumna Eliana Briceno, and Ryan Drysdale in front of the Chilean executive office called La Moneda

Chilean Diego Rivera, Maxwell MPA alumna Eliana Briceno, and Ryan Drysdale in front of the Chilean executive office called La Moneda

The Santiago Center through Syracuse University Study Abroad offers graduate students a unique opportunity to study at two of the best universities in Chile and South America while interning at a variety of organizations. During the Fall 2015 Semester, I was able to intern with the global NGO TechnoServe helping their Monitoring and Evaluation program track the progress of their initiatives working towards helping small entrepreneurs improve their business performance.

In addition to my internship, I took the two courses offered by the Santiago Center: 1) Environmental Policy in Chile and 2) Dictatorships, Human Rights, and Historical Memory in the Southern Cone. The highlight of the academic experience in Santiago was the latter course taught by historian and the center’s director, Professor Mauricio Paredes, a former member of the resistance against the Pinochet dictatorship who was detained and tortured.

Through declassified US government documents, visits to local museums and torture centers with Professor Paredes, and his engaging lectures, we gained a firsthand look at the impacts of US foreign policy and how those effects still linger today in Chile. The United States establishment in the 1970s during the Cold War, led by President Richard Nixon and National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger, feared the rise of democratically elected socialist President Salvador Allende in the US sphere of influence. According to declassified documents, during a National Security Council meeting in 1970, Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird stated: “We have to do everything we can to hurt Allende and bring him down.”

The US helped orchestrate a failed coup attempt against President Allende in 1970 and supported the successful coup against Allende in 1973 which brought General Augusto Pinochet to power. Seventeen years of military rule resulted in tens of thousands tortured and disappeared, over 400,000 forced into exile abroad, and the ushering in of neoliberal economic policies crafted by Milton Friedman which has led to Chile being one of the most unequal countries in the OECD today based on a Gini coefficient of 0.51 out of 1.0

Forty-five years after the US first started to meddle in Chile’s internal politics, the ramifications still exist. Our experience in Chile, however, coincided with a historical announcement by socialist President Michelle Bachelet to start a four year process to finally rewrite the current constitution implemented in 1980 under Pinochet’s brutal military rule. A major takeaway from the semester was seeing and hearing firsthand about the drastic impacts that foreign policy and geopolitical decisions can have for decades on a country and more importantly the people of that country.

Ryan Drysdale and Maxwell MAIR-ECON student Julianne Dunn on top of the Santa Lucia hill in the heart of Santiago, Chile

Ryan Drysdale and Maxwell MAIR-ECON student Julianne Dunn  on top of the Santa Lucia hill in the heart of Santiago, Chile

 

Ryan Drysdale is Repelling down a 75 foot cliff outside of Pucón, Chile

Repelling down a 75 foot cliff outside of Pucón, Chile