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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Several years ago, I read Gary Haugen’s The Locust Effect, which describes a plague of everyday violence against the poor. This violence keeps them in situations of poverty, while offenders – committing abuses such as human trafficking, forced labor, and violence against women and children – escape with impunity. To break the cycle of violence and poverty requires transforming dysfunctional justice systems, protecting vulnerable communities, and bringing criminals to justice for their crimes. This is the goal of International Justice Mission (IJM) through its operations around the world. IJM is partnering with governments, local communities and a network of supporters to “rescue thousands, protect millions, and prove that justice for the poor is possible”
Fast forward to my time at the Maxwell School, where I accepted an internship with IJM in Washington, D.C. for Fall 2015. The internship provided me an opportunity to combine my studies on security and transnational crime with advocacy for human rights and the justice movement. I worked closely with IJM’s Contingency Operations team, drafting safety and security policies, researching emerging global threats, compiling daily news briefings for senior leadership, and monitoring security events in IJM’s areas of operation.
My favorite part about working with IJM was the lively, encouraging atmosphere I encountered every day at work. The staff at IJM are some of the kindest and most encouraging people I’ve met, and they made the internship an affirming experience for all of us interns. Likewise, I grew close to the cohort of interns I worked with, who displayed a variety of knowledge and skills and a passion for justice.
Another highlight from the experience was attending IJM’s Advocacy Summit in support of the End Modern Slavery Initiative. Throughout the day, we met with U.S. Senators and Representatives from our home states, either thanking them for their support of the bill or asking them to be a co-sponsor.
The entire semester was an amazing time to learn and experience new things, and I feel confident as I take these next steps after graduation from the Maxwell School. Thank you for all of the support and encouragement along the way!
Kara Coughlin is a joint MPA/MAIR student who interned at the IOM in Geneva, Switzerland during her summer semester and in Pretoria, South Africa during her fall semester.
This summer I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to intern for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in their headquarters office in Geneva, Switzerland. I worked within the IOM Development Fund (IDF) on project development, monitoring, and evaluation. The goal of IDF is to provide “seed” money to governments in developing countries for projects that build capacity to better manage migration in the future. These projects focus on developing policy frameworks, training government officials, building infrastructure, raising awareness, and developing guidelines and manuals to better protect migrants and enhance governments’ ability to manage migration in a humane and orderly manner.
Working with the IDF team was an incredible learning experience for me. IDF projects cover a wide variety of migration thematic areas and are implemented in IOM country offices all over the world. As a result, I was able to learn about key migration issues in each region of the world and be in constant contact with IOM staff members from all different country offices. My role was to assist country offices in developing project proposals, as well as edit and review interim reports, final reports, and extension requests. Through these tasks I was able to gain a deeper understanding of how projects are monitored and evaluated, and the importance of designing projects with well thought out indicators.
In addition to reviewing reports, I conducted a review of completed IDF projects that focused on the prevention of human trafficking. The goal of this review was to evaluate methods used for project development and implementation to better inform IDF on how counter-trafficking related projects can be more sustainable. Sustainability is a key factor for IDF and refers to how well governments and relevant stakeholders maintain project outcomes once the IDF funding period is completed. To assess sustainability, I developed a survey that was sent to each country office that implemented one of the 18 counter-trafficking projects being reviewed. I analyzed the data from the surveys and wrote an in-depth report outlining the project characteristics that led to the greatest level of outcome sustainability, as well as the main challenges that these projects faced in maintaining outcomes. Through this project I was able to develop a better understanding of project evaluation and obtain valuable insight into the strengths and weaknesses of methods used to prevent human trafficking.
Interning at the IOM in Geneva gave me the opportunity to use the skills I learned from my courses at Maxwell and gain indispensible knowledge regarding the phases of project development. Through this experience, I was able to seek out another internship opportunity with IOM for the fall semester and am currently in Pretoria, South Africa interning at the IOM Regional Office for Southern Africa. I am very grateful for Global Programs Award for supporting me in these endeavors. These experiences have been pivotal to my educational goals and have given me the practical skills needed to be successful when entering the workforce.
On Friday, December 11, Catherine Bertini’s class on food security wrapped up here in Syracuse. But, not before PAIA students traveled to Rome to visit key international organizations focusing on hunger, nutrition, and agriculture. As the former director of the World Food Programme (WFP), Catherine Bertini was able to gain valuable access to the WFP, FAO, and IFAD in Rome and arrange for world renowned guest lecturers on food security such as Sir Gordon Conway.
This past week Maxwell offered 24 of my classmates and me the unique opportunity to attend a class on Food Security in Rome. Our classroom was the heart of the UN operations to eradicate hunger: the World Food Program (WFP), the (FAO) and (IFAD) and leading our class was the woman that transformed humanitarian work on food security as we know it, Professor Catherine Bertini.
In what was truly a learning marathon, for three days we visited the headquarters of the WFP, arguably the most effective humanitarian organization in the UN system. We learned the ins-outs of their operations, hearing from experienced passionate practitioners that frankly conveyed the challenges and opportunities of a career in humanitarian aid and international management, intertwined with stories from their years of experience in the field in difficult places like Sudan, North Korea and the Democratic Republic of Congo.[. . .]
The course allowed students to meet and learn from experts at the World Food Program (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) on topics ranging from the logistics of food aid distribution to the role of gender and climate change in the forming of policies. Speakers such as Stefano Porretti, director of emergency preparedness and support response for the WFP; Adolfo Brizzi, director of IFAD’s Policy and Technical Advisory Division; and Anna Lartey, director of FAO’s Nutrition Division, were just a few of the experts who shared their experiences tackling food security in an ever-changing global context.[. . .]
Vicki Tien formerly interned at the World Food Programme in Geneva as part of the Geneva Summer Practicum. She is a MAIR student who will graduate in December.
This fall I had the opportunity to work at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Washington, DC. UNHCR is the UN refugee agency mandated to lead and coordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. UNCHR’s Washington Office on the other hand is a regional office of UNHCR which specifically covers the United States as well as 27 countries and overseas territories in the Caribbean.
As a Public Information intern, I work closely with the Public Information officers and UNHCR Spokespersons for the US. I am responsible for several tasks, such as:
Monitoring news related to refugee issues and immigration policies in the US and the Caribbean, and preparing daily reports
Responding to requests from the US media and the public
Providing support for UNHCR campaigns and pitching to major media outlets
Disseminating press releases and other relevant documents on a timely basis
Attending congressional hearings and public policy forums pertaining to UNHCR and briefing staff.
In addition to my duties in the Public Information Unit, I also provide assistance to staff in other units as needed. For instance, I provided support to our External Relations officers during the High Commissioner’s visit to Washington. I also work directly with our Regional Representative for the Washington Office’s weekly reports.
There are several learning opportunities during the internship at UNHCR. In the beginning of the internship, units like the Resettlement Unit and the Protection Unit would provide intern training, which are open to every intern from every unit. From time to time, heads of different regional offices, such as UNHCR’s Jordan Representative and Americas Bureau Director, would visit the Washington Office to share the latest refugee situations in their regions with DC staff and interns. There is also a weekly UN in DC Brown Bag Series, featuring different speakers from various UN offices to introduce the mandates of different UN agencies and share their career advice with the interns.
Due to a surge in media attention for the Syrian refugee crisis around the globe, UNHCR’s Public Information Unit has been flooded with hundreds of media requests during the past few months. It is such a unique learning experience for me to join UNHCR under these circumstances as it has allowed me to gain first-hand insight into the work of UNHCR and see how it is handling and managing the current crisis. It has also expanded my knowledge on refugee issues and US resettlement processes as well as further building my experience and skills in the field of communications, particularly in media relations and social media. Interning with UNHCR has been an invaluable experience, and I am truly grateful for every experience I am able to have here.