Tag Archives: Geneva

Brian Neufuss Interns at UN’s Joint Inspection Unit

Brian Neufuss is a current joint JD/MAIR student at the Maxwell School. He participated in the Graduate Internships in Geneva Program this past summer, where he interned at the Joint Inspection Unit of the United Nations.

My name is Brian Neufuss and I am originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I am a joint Law and International Relations Masters student at Syracuse University and I completed my internship through the Global Program at the United Nations in Geneva. While in Geneva, I worked at the Joint Inspection Unit where we reviewed other UN organizations and offered recommendations to improve their delivery of services. The internship fit well with my joint Law/MAIR degree and provided an incredible professional experience that will certainly benefit my future career. After graduation, I would like to pursue a career in the U.S. Federal Government or International government and the global program in Geneva gave me a unique experience towards my professional development.

The Geneva experience was incredible. Geneva is a nice little city that sits on a beautiful lake on the western side of the Alps. Geneva is also unique because of its immense diversity. There are people living there from almost any country in the world and that offers an experience to work and live that is unique compared to almost any other city. For example, in my office of roughly 35 people, there was only one other American colleague. That diverse workplace is a particular highlight for my professional development. Geneva’s central location in Europe also offers incredible opportunities to travel including only a three-hour train to Paris. The international civil servants at the UN are also very understanding when it comes to time off and travel and they were very encouraging to take opportunities to see other places in Europe. I traveled to Budapest, Istanbul and Krakow over several weekends and it really created a valuable professional, cultural and educational experience.

I would encourage anyone to consider working in Geneva if they are interested in international government organizations. It was an incredible experience that is unmatched to any work experience I have had. The ability to travel and see the cities of Europe truly made my time in Geneva unforgettable.

Brian Neufuss in front of the Matterhorn

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Jane Buchholz Works on Migration at the UN

Jane Buchholz is a current MAIR student at the Maxwell School. She participated in the Graduate Internships in Geneva Program this past summer,  interning at the UN’s International Organization for Migration.

I was interested in the Graduate Internships in Geneva program because my career goal was to work in the UN system, and at the time I was especially interested in working in headquarters instead of in a duty station. My area of interest in IR is migration. Therefore, I was very excited to be placed in the headquarters of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in the International Partnerships Division (IPD), which deals primarily with managing IOM’s relationships with external organizations.

Jane visits the Matterhorn.

While with IPD, I helped to organize several meetings and events, most of which were connected to the Global Compact on Migration, which will be finalized next year and is expected to be an agreement governing migration similar to how the Paris Climate Accords govern environmental protection. As the UN Migration agency, IOM is deeply invested in the preparations and outcome of the Global Compact on Migration, and expect that the mission and structure of the organization may even change as a result of the Compact.

Jane in Gruyere.

My work also focused on entities called “Regional Consultative Processes” on migration. Regional Consultative Processes are meetings of migration experts or ministries from each country in a region or migration route. The meetings are non-binding and generally private, and participants use them to discuss best practices, concerns, and needs related to managing migration. This October, IOM will be hosting a global meeting of the Chairs (usually one of the countries in the process, represented by an Ambassador) and Secretariats of all Regional Consultative Processes, so that best practices can be shared globally. I helped a colleague in my division to invite track participation in the meeting, and to prepare a report on the outcome of last year’s meeting (also hosted by IOM in Geneva). I was also involved in creating brochures for IOM to publish, providing information on each global meeting that has occurred and on Regional Consultative Processes in general.

A window overlooking the city with Lake Geneva in the background.

My time with IPD was fascinating and showed me what working in headquarters in the UN system might feel like. I continue to be optimistic about the work that the UN (and especially the IOM) does, and am grateful that the Graduate Internships in Geneva program allowed me the chance to see that work up close.

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Suhyeon Lee Gains a Better Understanding of IOM

Suhyeon Lee is a recent MAIR graduate. Last summer, she had a great opportunity to intern with International Organization for Migration in Geneva as part of the Graduate Internships in Geneva program. Last fall, she also interned with United Nations Information Center in Washington D.C. as part of the Maxwell‑in‑Washington program. 

Suhyeon Lee with her IOM badge at a restaurant in Geneva

Suhyeon Lee with her IOM badge at a restaurant in Geneva

There are a myriad number of people who move to new countries to alleviate suffering or live a better life that their home country cannot provide. However, they face many challenges such as continued poverty, discrimination and hostility from their host country. A country cannot be a perfect place where everyone gets along and everyone can get everything they want, but I believe that if we try to understand and embrace one another, we can make a better world.

During the summer, I had the opportunity to intern with the Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration unit, International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Geneva. Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) is an indispensable part of a comprehensive approach to migration management aiming at orderly and humane return and reintegration of migrants who are unable or unwilling to remain in host countries and wish to return voluntarily to their countries of origin.

My major duty in the AVRR unit was to assist in the development of reports and statistics on assisted voluntary return and reintegration and support the analysis of studies on AVRR by identifying relevant conclusions, good practices and gaps. As a part of the analysis of studies on AVRR, I researched microfinance as a tool to strengthen sustainable reintegration of returnees in countries of origin, focusing on opportunities and challenges. Also, I had an opportunity to design the website of the AVRR unit as a project of strengthening outreach to stakeholders, beneficiaries, and the public.

During the summer, I gained a better understanding of IOM’s work as an inter-governmental organization in the field of migration, and how the organization works with governmental, intergovernmental, and non-governmental partners to help ensure the orderly and humane management of migration. Finally, this internship allowed me to become acquainted with the development of programs and projects related to assisted voluntary return and reintegration.

Ivan Zhivkov, Suhyeon Lee, James Murray, and Maria Chiara Vinciguerra at a festival

Ivan Zhivkov, Suhyeon Lee, James Murray, and Maria Chiara Vinciguerra at a festival

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Chris Damon-Cronmiller, Original Research in Geneva

More recently, during Chris Damon-Cronmiller’s Fall Semester, he volunteered at the United States International Council on Disabilities while taking part in the Maxwell-in-Washington program.

This past summer was, for lack of a better word, quite a whirlwind for me.  I am glad to say that I got an awful lot out of the experience, and furthermore I could not have done it were it not for the help and support of this year’s Global Programs Award.

At the beginning of the year, my original plan was to pursue an internship with the International Disability Alliance (IDA) and their main office in Geneva, Switzerland.  While I was eventually offered an internship, unforeseen circumstances unfortunately resulted in me having to decline their offer.  Nonetheless, I went ahead with my original plan to partake in this year’s Graduate Internships in Geneva program (at the recommendation of PAIA) knowing that I would be able to have an enriching opportunity there.

While in Geneva, I had the tremendous honor of working under Werner Schleiffer, a 30 plus year veteran of the UN, now as Maxwell’s primary liaison in Geneva.  After a week or so in the area, he was kind enough to offer me a research assignment on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  The assignment entailed the following:

  • Finding and consolidating general arguments for and against the SDGs, from voices of both the Global North and the Global South (so long as the voices seemed to be from reputable sources, of course).
  • Figuring out and detailing the pros and cons of a select few SDGs which were either of interest to me, of which the most information existed in the world, or both.
  • Finally, (using the information and work gathered for the previous two responsibilities as a basis) developed a rudimentary guideline for practical implementation of said goals.

By the end of my assignment, I gained a lot of practical information concerning the SDGs (along with their predecessors, the Millennium Development Goals) that was previously unknown to me and enriched my MAIR and MPA studies on campus.  Additionally, I gained new insight into the connections between them and disability rights, for real application to both the second half of my Maxwell career and for my life after graduate school (whatever that may be).  The latter was particularly important to me as someone already deeply interested in international affairs due to extensive experience abroad, and with several years of disability and neurodiversity rights advocacy under my belt within the U.S.  There was, all in all, more connection between these goals and disability rights than I could have ever imagined.

Chris Damon-Cronmiller in Switzerland

Chris Damon-Cronmiller in Switzerland

Living between the France-Switzerland border, touring the Swiss countryside (courtesy of Werner) and spending time in Geneva (the “world’s center for human rights and development”, as Werner put it) wasn’t exactly bad either.  Despite my short time there I nonetheless created some memories that I doubt I will soon forget (and I am sure the same can be said for everyone else who participated in the practicum.

Needless to say that I have no regrets about how the summer turned out, and am greatly looking forward to the next great big adventure during the fall.

James Murray, Chris Damon-Cronmiller, Ivan Zhivkov, and Associate Professor Werner Schleiffer in Switzerland

James Murray, Chris Damon-Cronmiller, Ivan Zhivkov, and Associate Professor Werner Schleiffer in Switzerland

The 2016 Geneva Summer Internships program cohort: Ivan Zhivkov, Chris Damon-Cronmiller, Corena Sharp, Claudine Lim, James Murray, Suhyeon Lee, and Janessa Price. (Maria Chiara Vinciguerra not pictured)

The 2016 Geneva Summer Internships program cohort: Ivan Zhivkov, Chris Damon-Cronmiller, Corena Sharp, Claudine Lim, James Murray, Suhyeon Lee, and Janessa Price. (Maria Chiara Vinciguerra not pictured)

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Ivan Zhivkov’s Rewarding Experience at World Meteorological Organization

Ivan Zhivkov also interned at the U.S. Department of State in the European Affairs office as part of the Maxwell-in-Washington program.

My name is Ivan G. Zhivkov and I am a Master of Arts in International Relations student, focusing on security and diplomacy pertaining to Eastern Europe. Having spent the initial two semesters on campus, partaking in the core MAIR and some fascinating elective courses, I decided to spend my summer 2016 studying abroad. I chose the Graduate Internships in Geneva program, due to the unique opportunity that it offers to intern with an international organization at the heart of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Upon multiple interviews, I was selected by Werner Schleiffer to be a part of the program and placed to intern with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

Working in WMO was intensive, educational, and extremely rewarding. I was placed in the Climate and Water Department, serving as an Intern with the Agricultural Meteorology Division. I was in charge of working on Drought Management, National Capacity, and improving the Integrated Drought Management Programme (IDMP) for Central and Eastern Europe, the Horn of Africa, and West Africa. I had two supervisors, the Director of Agricultural Meteorology, who assigned me to work on drought and flood management, and the Senior Program Officer for the IDMP. I was in charge of researching, assessing, and reporting on National Drought Programs (since only 18 UN Member States have so far implemented them), Intended Nationally Determined Contributions and how they relate to a country’s effort to reduce its Greenhouse Gas emissions, and the indicators of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Ivan Zhivkov at the UN in Geneva

Ivan Zhivkov at the UN in Geneva

My responsibilities were wide and diverse. I had the opportunity to attend branch, council, and town hall meetings, learning how WMO functions and where it needs to improve. The statistics bureau of the International Labour Organization was hosted on the third floor of the WMO building, allowing me an easier access to another organization and learning from its work. Working with WMO was an invaluable experience for me. Although it did not directly relate to my focus of studies, some of the skills that I acquired at Maxwell allowed me to thrive in WMO.

Living and working in Geneva opened my eyes to the function of international organizations, their relationship with the local community, and to experience life in Switzerland. Rich and diverse experiences characterized my time in Geneva. I was the only American from a group of roughly twenty interns in WMO, which allowed me to learn from their cultures, share common experiences, and practice foreign languages. Interacting with locals allowed me to make friends and improve my French. Overall, the Geneva Summer Practicum was invaluable to my education, to my development as a future international relations professional, and to my improvement as a world citizen. I would recommend it to anyone and I would not trade it for the world.

Ivan Zhivkov at his desk at WMO

Ivan Zhivkov at his desk at WMO

Ivan Zhivkov in UN Assembly, Geneva

Ivan Zhivkov in UN Assembly, Geneva

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Maria Chiara Vinciguerra, A Deeper Understanding of the UN System

Maria Chiara Vinciguerra is currently doing a joint Master’s degree, known as the Atlantis program, which will allow her to obtain a M.A. in International Relations from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University, and a Master of Public Policy from the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin by July 2017. Last summer she participated in the Graduate Internships in Geneva program.

This summer, I had the opportunity to intern as part of the Graduate Internships in Geneva program with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), within the organization’s inter-agency unit based in Geneva, Switzerland. WFP is the UN agency responsible for providing food assistance worldwide, and is headquartered in Rome, Italy. The WFP Geneva Office I worked for is an extended branch of the organization, responsible for advocacy and public information. The unit consists of a small group of staff with multi-year experience both from the field and the HQ, and with varying expertise covering disaster preparedness, climate change, HIV, protection, and so forth.

As an Inter-Agency Affairs Intern, my work mainly entailed assisting WFP representatives at intergovernmental meetings – the 66th Meeting of the UNHCR Standing Committee being one of them – and reporting on these meetings either by producing inputs for the WFP Geneva Weekly, Notes for the Record, or by providing oral feedback. In addition, I was often tasked to assist my supervisor in the preparation and facilitation of presentations to various audiences, including a group of German graduate students and SIT Study Abroad undergraduate students from all over the USA. Moreover, I supported the preparation of WFP’s Readout on the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS), as well as the production of a matrix to monitor WFP’s commitments at WHS. I also made an infographic on the latest “Global School Feeding Sourcebook: Lessons from 14 countries.”

My experience at WFP Geneva was both challenging and enlightening. It provided me with a deeper understanding of the UN system and its inter-governmental networks and inter-agency dynamics. This experience also gave me the chance to further improve my research and writing skills. Paired up with Professor Schleiffer’s class, the Geneva Practicum was a unique experience that I am grateful for.

Maria Chiara Vinciguerra above Lake Geneva

Maria Chiara Vinciguerra above Lake Geneva

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Janessa Price & JIU’s 50th Anniversary

Janessa Price is a Public Diplomacy student who will graduate with a Master of Science in Public Relations (MSPR) and a Master of Arts in International Relations (MAIR) through the Newhouse School and the Maxwell School at Syracuse University. She wrote this account of her internship in Geneva last summer.

This summer, I had the opportunity to intern in Geneva, Switzerland with the United Nations Office at the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU). Pursuing a career with the United Nations has been a goal of mine for quite some time so I was very excited to be presented with this opportunity.

The JIU is the only independent external oversight body of the United Nations system mandated to conduct evaluations, inspections and investigations of most of the UN’s programs, funds and specialized agencies.

While the JIU typically focuses on monitoring and evaluation, this year the Unit is celebrating its 50th anniversary and opted to launch a communications campaign to highlight the Unit’s work and achievements since its establishment. Since the Unit does not have someone internally who would typically perform this type of work, I as a public diplomacy student, had the opportunity to utilize the knowledge and skills I had acquired both at the Maxwell and Newhouse schools to help coordinate a series of activities and events to celebrate the Unit’s 50 years.

Since I’ve started at the JIU, my main responsibilities have included:

  • Providing support to the organization for events and the preparation of the communications campaign
  • Preparing and reviewing a series of public information/communications papers on various aspects of the history and the work of JIU
  • Designing and procuring a number of visual communication products to accompany written material
  • Drafting various materials (invitations, letters, etc) for outreach to various members of the United Nations and Geneva diplomatic community

My experience thus far has given me a glimpse into what work at a UN organization would be like, specifically in a communications role. While the role entailed a great deal of responsibility, I’ve felt thoroughly prepared because of my education at Syracuse University.

I’ve had the opportunity to learn the ins-and-outs of JIU while simultaneously getting a better understanding of the United Nations system as a whole.  Additionally, living and working in Geneva this summer has allowed me to meet with and learn from a number of individuals working with various international organizations, including a public diplomacy alum! Coming to Geneva has been one of the best decisions I have made both on a personal and professional level and I am happy I was able to take advantage of this opportunity.

Janessa Price, Suhyeon Lee, and Claudine Lim in Parc des Bastions, Geneva, Switzerland

Janessa Price, Suhyeon Lee, and Claudine Lim in Parc des Bastions, Geneva, Switzerland

Ivan Zhivkov, Janessa Price, and Program Director Werner Schleiffer at the Berner Munster (Bern Cathedral), Bern, Switzerland

Ivan Zhivkov, Janessa Price, and Program Director Werner Schleiffer at the Berner Munster (Bern Cathedral), Bern, Switzerland

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Corena Sharp, Advocacy & Innovative Partnerships at UNICEF

Corena Sharp is a MAIR student currently interning at the United States Department of State’s Office of International Labor Affairs in Washington, DC. She interned at UNICEF as part of the Graduate Internships in Geneva program.

This summer I traveled to Geneva, Switzerland for an internship with UNICEF. While the headquarters of UNICEF lives in New York, nestled next to Lac Leman and a botanical garden is UNICEF’s Private Fundraising and Partnerships Division. Within the Division, I am a part of the Advocacy and Innovative Partnerships Unit.

What This Means

UNICEF has three main parts: Headquarters, Country Offices, and National Committees. National Committees are their own NGOs who are affiliated with—but not technically under the UNICEF administrative umbrella in rich countries—as compared with Country Offices that are direct extensions of UNICEF in developing countries. In practical terms, this means that National Committees cannot run any programming and must get permission to use UNICEF branding. The existence of National Committees is based in the agreement that UNICEF’s true focus needs to be where children are most vulnerable, yet recognizes that rich countries are by no means perfect advocates for the rights of children. The 34 National Committees fundraise and run political advocacy campaigns to help improve the situation of children domestically and abroad.

This is where my team comes in. We help coordinate between the National Committees and Headquarters and give support in a variety of ways. I participated in two Working Groups on Humanitarian Emergency Advocacy and the SDGs. I helped National Committees strategize and learn from each other, by creating documents of best practices and drafting content for UNICEF’s intranet.

One of my primary projects was to design a 125-page interactive document that maps the Convention on the Rights of the Child with the Sustainable Development Goals. It capitalizes on the momentum of the SDGs by exploring the inextricable links between the rights of children and each goal. When I completed the document, I helped develop the dissemination materials. The document will be circulated across the organization as well as to external partners, such as the Committee on the Rights of the Child.

I was also given the freedom to explore human rights outside of the office. While the 32nd Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council met, I was encouraged to go and attend meetings. My two favorite days were watching the council vote to appoint an Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; and attending a panel on ‘Violence against indigenous women and girls and its root causes.’

This was truly an amazing experience that will carry close to my heart as I continue to work for the empowerment of women and girls everywhere.

Corena Sharp in the village of Gruyere, Switzerland in June

Corena Sharp in the village of Gruyere, Switzerland in June

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James Murray Does Impactful Work at UNDP

James Murray is a MAIR student who obtained his internship at UNDP with the help of Emily Fredenberg, a former participant in the Graduate Internships in Geneva program. He wrote this post in August 2016.

For the past three months, I’ve been living in Geneva, Switzerland while working for the United Nations Development Programme as an intern. In less than two weeks time, I’ll be heading back to Syracuse to complete my last semester as a graduate student. The experience I’ve had this summer has provided me with working knowledge of how the international humanitarian and development systems function, and provided me with the opportunity to develop and sharpen the tools necessary to be an effective contributor in such an environment. Also, living in Geneva, a city with incredible natural beauty and wonderful history, has been a dream come true.

Before I started my work with UNDP this summer, I was slightly apprehensive that I would be given limited job responsibilities and relegated to a position with little ability to make a meaningful contribution to the organization. This assumption turned out to be completely incorrect. My two supervisors at UNDP gave me the structure necessary to ensure that my work would be impactful, while granting me the freedom to take on assignments that were of particular interest. My work was primarily focused in the health sector, specifically on reducing the global burden of non-communicable diseases, and working with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.

The sheer scope of this work allowed me a wide range of options when considering possible project opportunities. In my time with UNDP, I feel that my work made a positive impact while also further developing my abilities.

While the internship with UNDP may have been the most rewarding experience of the summer, living in the beautiful city of Geneva has enriched my day-to-day life for several reasons. First, while Geneva is quite a small city, there is always a festival or celebration going on each weekend. For example, this past weekend was the Fete de Genève, which was celebrated by great music, delicious food, and the best fireworks display I’ve ever seen. It lasted nearly an hour! Second, there is a tangible and exciting sense of international community that can be felt throughout the city. While being one of the most international cities in the world, it is only slightly larger than Syracuse. Lastly, Geneva has more natural beauty than any place I’ve ever lived. I consider myself an avid outdoor enthusiast, and I’ve been able to find a great hike with extraordinary views each and every weekend.

This summer has been a great opportunity for personal growth, while also being exciting and fun.

James Murray in Geneva, Switzerland

James Murray in Geneva, Switzerland

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IOM and ASP Allow Ngoc Hong Le to Explore Multiple Interests

Ngoc Hong Le is a recent graduate of Maxwell’s MAIR program. For her final two semesters, she participated in the Geneva Summer Practicum and the Maxwell-in-Washington Program.

Fall internship at ASP in Washington, DC

Ngoc Hong Le smiling in front of ASP's photo zone

Ngoc Hong Le smiling in front of ASP’s photo zone

After coming back from Europe with a wider knowledge of the migration and international relations fields, I decided to challenge myself to understand a new security field related to climate change: Climate Security. Personally, I am very concerned about the impact of climate change from manufacturing to human being’s daily lives. Climate security involves challenges from climate change to national security.

American Security Project (ASP) invited me to be a climate security intern in Fall 2015. ASP is a nonpartisan organization created to educate the American public and the world about the changing nature of national security in the 21st Century in the U.S. ASP brings together prominent American business leaders, former members of Congress, retired military flag officers, and prominent former government officials to address climate security.

As a Climate security intern, my daily duties were providing news articles related to climate change policies adopted by countries around the world and in turn following the latest news about climate change in social media such as Twitter, Google+, and other news sources. In addition, my position involved posting blog post(s) on the ASP website related to climate security issues under ASP aspects and personal aspects, and attending conferences on the Hill and around Washington D.C that were related to climate change and climate security. In addition, as an intern in ASP, I assisted ASP staff to operate conferences related to security issues, such as cyber security. Moreover, interns rotated daily to contribute to “In Case You Missed” for ASP subscribers. This gave interns the opportunity to improve knowledge on many security subjects such as American competiveness, national security strategy, asymmetry operations, public diplomacy, climate security, energy security and nuclear security, in addition to their own focus.

While interning in ASP, I got to learn basic public relations skills associated with social media, and this was a valuable contribution to interning at ASP. Public relations and communications are a tools to promote your business, as well as to increase reader viewership. The internship taught me many new things that I did not know before and it was a great experience.

Summer internship at IOM in Geneva

Ngoc Hong Le is enjoying the beauty of La Rade Lake and the Jet d’eau Fountain Geneva after the first day of work

Ngoc Hong Le enjoying the beauty of La Rade Lake and the Jet d’eau Fountain in Geneva after the first day of work

IOM Headquarters located in Geneva, Switzerland gave me an opportunity to work with the Governing Bodies Division, Department of International Cooperation and Partnerships during summer 2015. IOM is the leading inter-governmental organization in the field of migration and works closely with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners. My department was responsible for supporting and coordinating organization relations with IOM Member States, inter-governmental organizations, civil society and the media.

I spent a whole summer at IOM assisting staff working on the Annual International Dialogue of Migration, named the Conference of Migrant and Cities from October 26 and 27, 2015 in Palais des Nation, Geneva, Switzerland. My internship duties included providing information about potential guest speakers for all five sections of the two-day conference, as well as responding to requests from attendants and guest speakers about visas, accommodations and travel arrangements. I also attended conferences in Palais des Nation related to migration issues in the world. I have learned a lot about how to organize an international conference with VIP level guests, which I did not have before. I was able to have a great learning experience in Geneva thanks to IOM.

In addition to my daily duties, I had the opportunity to attend weekly lunch meetings, featuring different departments in IOM with other interns. They taught me how an intern-government organization works with countries and international communities. I got to know more about how field work takes place in developing countries, and I wish to learn more about my international relations field because of this experience.

Even though I did not work on the conference with staff until the last day, my knowledge of migrants has expanded, and I’ve learned necessary conference operation skills from being so deeply involved in the “Migrant and Cities” conference. It was a unique experience that I could only gain from my master’s degree from the Maxwell School of Public Affairs and Citizenships.

Ngoc Hong Le traveling in Jungfrau mountain region

Ngoc Hong Le traveling in the Jungfrau mountain region