Tag Archives: IOM

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

Learn more about the Graduate Internships in Geneva Program

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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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Maxwell African Scholars Union

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.

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

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Maxwell African Scholars Union

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

Hyeseul Hwang Does Cross Sectoral Work at IOM

Hyeseul Hwang wrote about her summer experience in Geneva last August. She has now graduated with an MAIR degree from the Maxwell School and a wealth of professional experience.

I arrived in Geneva at the end of the May to conduct my internship in International Organization for Migration (IOM) and to participate in the Geneva Summer Practicum. Since the start of my internship at IOM on June 1st, it is hard to believe that today is my last day of the internship! Time really flies.

During this summer, I have worked in the department of International Cooperation and Partnerships in IOM for two and a half months. I worked at supporting my supervisor, a migration policy officer. I was mainly in charge of supporting and following up with an interagency research project about a crisis related migration stocktaking exercise which targets eighteen agencies over thirty‑nine countries from all over the region. Also, I conducted my own research and wrote papers about the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD), Global Migration Group (GMG)), and UN HABITAT III.

The other interesting activities that I have done during my internship in IOM are participating in various events and sessions that are going on inside and outside of IOM. Day by day, there are many learning sessions and events within IOM regarding the current migration crisis, such as the Mediterranean and Syrian crises. Also, I have participated in many IOM intern events with professional talks from the field of emergency affairs, shelter assistance, and many other topics. In addition to that, participating in the ECOSOC Humanitarian Affairs Segment was an amazing opportunity for me to actually see how many UN organizations and other humanitarian affairs agencies such as ICRC are working for humanitarian affairs in more collaborative ways.

In addition to my internship, the Geneva Summer Practicum course provided valuable opportunities for me to gain more understanding about work within other international actors in Geneva via guest speakers from UNHCR, Permanent Mission, Center for Human Dialogue and others. Dr. Werner Schleiffer’s profound knowledge about the UN system and class debates truly nurtured my knowledge and sense of working in the field of humanitarian affairs. Moreover, class field trips to Bern, Luzern, Zermatt, Basel, and Zurich gave me a greater understanding about living in Switzerland. I am very happy that I have spent my amazing summer in Geneva through my internship, course with the Dr. Schleiffer and awesome classmates.

Hyeseul Hwang in front of Lake Geneva

Hyeseul Hwang in front of Lake Geneva

From Geneva to Pretoria, Kara Coughlin Builds Experience at IOM

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.

Kara Coughlin stands in front of the Nelson Mandela statue in South Africa

Kara Coughlin stands in front of the Nelson Mandela statue in South Africa

Kara Coughlin above Lake Geneva

Kara Coughlin above Lake Geneva

Brittany Renner Experiences an Eye-Opening Moment Working for Migrant Rights

Brittany Renner is currently interning and studying in Washington, DC as part of the Maxwell-in-Washington program. She is a MAIR student in the Public Administration and International Affairs Department at the Maxwell School.

This Summer I completed the Geneva Practicum in Geneva, Switzerland. Even though I knew I wanted to do this program before I got into the Maxwell School, I learned so much more than I could have ever expected in the three months that I was there.

I received an internship position in the Director General’s Office of the International Organization for Migration under the supervision of the Senior Regional Advisor for Sub‑Saharan Africa. I spent my weeks at the IOM doing substantial work, including conducting independent research, attending United Nations conferences, and meeting with country ambassadors. My independent research focused on analyzing African visa policies and their economic and social impacts on African migrants and potential investors. It was eye-opening to work for migrants’ rights, and it was an opportunity to learn more about my region of focus. I even had the chance to present my research at an internal IOM staff meeting for constructive criticism before it was presented at the annual Intra-Regional Consultations on Migration and Labour Mobility within Africa meeting in Accra, Ghana. My internship was a crucial experience for me and my future career path in international development.

In the class component of the Practicum, I learned so much about not only the United Nations system, but also about the life of an international worker and what goes into choosing a career path in foreign service. Our group had class twice a week and during that time we had numerous presentations and meetings with officials from organizations such as UNICEF, UNHCR, Humanitarian Dialogue, and World Economic Forum. We also had the opportunity to learn about the history of Switzerland and how Geneva became a hub of international diplomacy.

We toured around the country learning about other important cities like Bern, Zurich, and Lucerne and were lucky enough to travel to Zermatt and experience an amazing up-close view with the famous Alps. Of course, on weekends we also were able to travel to other neighboring European countries like France, Italy and Germany. I would highly recommend this experience to anyone who is serious about potentially working in international relations organizations, especially the United Nations. It is truly a unique program with history, culture and professional experience waiting for you.

Caitlin Hoover, Brittany Renner, Hyeseul Hwang, and Program Director Dr. Werner Schleiffer(From left to right)

From left: Caitlin Hoover, Brittany Renner, Hyeseul Hwang, and Program Director Dr. Werner Schleiffer