Tag Archives: International Organizations

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

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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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Sam Connors Gains Field Experience at IOM Ghana

Sam Connors is a MAIR student on track to graduate this semester. His interests are in Africa, migration, aid, and development, which is why he took part in the Survey of Current Issues In African Migration program during the summer of 2016.

Considering this was my first time traveling out of the United States, my summer spent in Ghana was unlike anything I have previously experienced. Interning with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) was not only an opportunity for me to test my professional ability in a new environment, but a chance to explore the dynamics of migration – the focus of my studies.

The IOM program in Ghana was an ideal fit for me due to my interest in migration but also considering my desire to gain field work experience with an IO. I was able to gain a comprehensive understanding of working as an expat in both the field and capital city of another country, splitting my time with a month in the field and a month in the IOM office in Accra. Another Maxwell student, Emily Hoerner, has captured our experience in Accra well in a previous PAIA blog entry, and I suggest learning of that portion from her entry.

My time spent in the field was working with IOM’s counter trafficking department in the Ho West district, 3 hours north of Accra. This time was without a doubt the most interesting and impacting facet of the program for me. Not only was I able to participate with the IOM on one of their projects, I was also given a stipend along with my fellow Syracuse students to design a small aid project of our own in the region.

The IOM counter trafficking project was targeted at preventing the selling and trafficking of children in the Volta region of Ghana. This effort took the five of us to five different rural communities in the surrounding area – though we resided in one community (Dodome Tsikor) for the month. Along with local government officials, we would introduce a program designed to educate these communities concerning the rights of a child and perils of trafficking. This introduction was ceremoniously celebrated with a painting by the whole community – the tree of life – as a symbol of the community’s commitment to protect their children.

Community volunteers, members, and Syracuse University students (starting 2nd from left): Sam Connors, Hatou Camara, Alison Rivera, Francis Morency, Jinpu Wang) in front of the tree of life community painting

Community volunteers, members, and Syracuse University students (starting 2nd from left): Sam Connors, Hatou Camara, Alison Rivera, Francis Morency, Jinpu Wang) in front of the tree of life community painting

It is not possible to fit the sheer volume of information and lessons I gathered during my time in Ghana in one blog post. It is not possible for me to quantify the personal and professional growth I experienced working for an IO in a foreign country. The most important professional lesson I gathered is the simple yet oft underappreciated lesson of –  communicate, communicate, communicate. The most lasting personal lesson I found reinforced in Ghana is of similar characteristics – live with love and understanding will follow.

Syracuse University students L-R: Jinpu Wang, Hatou Camara, Alison Rivera, Sam Connors, and Francis Morency in the field

Syracuse University students L-R: Jinpu Wang, Hatou Camara, Alison Rivera, Sam Connors, and Francis Morency in the field

The pouring of libations ceremony performed by a community Chief and elders

The pouring of libations ceremony performed by a community Chief and elders

The Chief of Dodome Tsikor and SU student Jinpu Wang

The Chief of Dodome Tsikor and SU student Jinpu Wang

Alison Rivera and Francis Morency

Alison Rivera and Francis Morency

Emily Hoerner, Sam Connors, Hatou Camara, Alison Rivera, Francis Morency, and Jinpu Wang at Elmina Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage

Emily Hoerner, Sam Connors, Hatou Camara, Alison Rivera, Francis Morency, and Jinpu Wang at Elmina Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage

Francis Morency, Hatou Camara, community volunteer, Alison Rivera, Sam Connors, & Jinpu Wang

Francis Morency, Hatou Camara, community volunteer, Alison Rivera, Sam Connors, & Jinpu Wang

Alison Rivera, Francis Morency and Sam Connors interview an IOM program beneficiary

Alison Rivera, Francis Morency and Sam Connors interview an IOM program beneficiary

Learn more about Survey of Current Issues In African Migration: A Fieldwork Practicum

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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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Emily Hoerner Finds Great Rewards Working for IOM Ghana

Emily Hoerner used her previous experience in the non-profit sector to contribute to IOM Ghana’s mission through the Survey of Current Issues in African Migration global program. This program gives students experience doing field work for a UN agency.

As a joint-degree MPA/MAIR, my first year at Maxwell has been a whirlwind. Without a doubt, the most rewarding part of my Maxwell experience so far has been the two months I spent interning with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Accra, Ghana this summer.

I was drawn to IOM’s Ghana program because it offered me the opportunity to work on the ground with a respected international organization. I wasn’t disappointed. After a week of cultural and professional orientation to Ghana and IOM, I spent four weeks working with IOM’s Assisted Voluntary Return & Reintegration (AVRR) team. The AVRR program aims to help migrants who have left Ghana and wish to return, providing them with reintegration assistance like accommodation or support if they wish to start micro-businesses.

My time with the AVRR team was spent primarily working on their reintegration database. I looked at trends and best practices from other IOM missions’ AVRR databases, and suggested improvements to the system the Ghanaian AVRR team was currently using. I then worked with a member of the AVRR team to re-build their database from the ground up, in the hope that this new framework would allow them to capture, input, and report out on migration and reintegration data more effectively and efficiently. When the database was complete, I also performed some trend analysis for the team on their migration data from the past five years, creating charts and graphs from the data that the team could use for informational one-pagers about the AVRR program.

Me with Reintegration Assistant Emmanual Oppong, working on the AVRR database.

Me with Reintegration Assistant Emmanual Oppong, working on the AVRR database.

The final two weeks of my internship were spent doing a bit more fieldwork: traveling in and around the greater Accra region to speak with beneficiaries of the AVRR program. This was, by far, my favorite part of the internship. Though I knew the database work I completed was important, having the opportunity to speak one-on-one with AVRR beneficiaries put a truly human face on the program. Some of the beneficiaries I spoke with were quieter or more reserved than others, but I loved having the chance to speak with these people and hear their stories of hardship, perseverance, and sometimes triumph.

Overall, my internship with IOM Ghana’s AVRR team was a fantastic introduction into the world of international development, and what it is like to work in a country office of a complex international organization. My time with IOM was replete with frustrations, challenges, and opportunities for both personal and professional growth. Above all, my internship solidified my desire to work in the complicated, frustrating, and rewarding field of international development.

SU students (from L-R) Francis Morency, Hatou Camara, Sam Conners, and Alison Rivera at Black Star Gate, in downtown Accra. This picture was taken on a weekend when we explored landmarks around the city.

SU students (from L-R) Francis Morency, Hatou Camara, Sam Conners, and Alison Rivera at Black Star Gate, in downtown Accra. This picture was taken on a weekend when we explored landmarks around the city.

During a long weekend, I had the chance to visit Cape Coast and Elmina Castles, both of which played a pivotal role in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. This is me in front of Elmina after a tour of the castle, including the horrifying slave dungeons and the haunting ‘door of no return.’

During a long weekend, I had the chance to visit Cape Coast and Elmina Castles, both of which played a pivotal role in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. This is me in front of Elmina after a tour of the castle, including the horrifying slave dungeons and the haunting ‘door of no return.’

Me with AVRR beneficiary Marvin Aidoo, who currently runs an agricultural NGO meant to employ Ghanaian youth. Having the chance to speak with AVRR beneficiaries like Mr. Aidoo was one of the most rewarding aspects of my internship with IOM.

Me with AVRR beneficiary Marvin Aidoo, who currently runs an agricultural NGO meant to employ Ghanaian youth. Having the chance to speak with AVRR beneficiaries like Mr. Aidoo was one of the most rewarding aspects of my internship with IOM.

Me with IOM Ghana’s AVRR team (from left to right, Doris Ohene-Kankam, Emmanuel Oppong, and Nuria Vidal-Fernandez).

Me with IOM Ghana’s AVRR team (from left to right, Doris Ohene-Kankam, Emmanuel Oppong, and Nuria Vidal-Fernandez).

SU students (from L-R) Francis Morency, Jinpu Wang, Sam Connors, Hatou Camara, Emily Hoerner, and Alison Rivera with EMPA alum Erika at her home near the University of Ghana.

SU students (from L-R) Francis Morency, Jinpu Wang, Sam Connors, Hatou Camara, Emily Hoerner, and Alison Rivera with EMPA alum Erika at her home near the University of Ghana.

SU students (from L-R) Francis Morency, Hatou Camara, and Emily Hoerner with IOM Reintegration Assistant Doris Ohene-Kankam and IOM AVRR (Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration) beneficiary Nelson Amtwi. This photo was taken after an interview with Amtwi at his convenience store in Spintex, just outside Accra.

SU students (from L-R) Francis Morency, Hatou Camara, and Emily Hoerner with IOM Reintegration Assistant Doris Ohene-Kankam and IOM AVRR (Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration) beneficiary Nelson Amtwi. This photo was taken after an interview with Amtwi at his convenience store in Spintex, just outside Accra.

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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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