Tag Archives: Latin America

In Chile, Lluvia Hernandez Educates Locals on Their Rights

This Fall I had the opportunity to intern abroad in Santiago, Chile at Fundación Multitudes as an Operations intern. This internship provided me the opportunity to learn about civil society in Chile by educating locals on their right to be heard in government. The mission of Fundación Multitudes is to reduce the gap between citizens and public institutions, working with a strong emphasis on cross-cutting issues to achieve agreements between the government and different sectors of civil society, including the private sector. All of the above encourages citizen participation by raising standards of transparency and open government in state agencies.

I specifically worked on strengthening tied with The Community of Democracies (CD) which is an intergovernmental coalition of states established in 2000 to bring together governments, civil society and the private sector in the pursuit of the common goal of supporting democratic rules and strengthening democratic norms and institutions around the world.

I worked directly for the CEO of Fundación Multitudes who is also the Chair of the ISC for The Community of Democracies. The ISC advises governments on the actions needed to enable civil society to work freely to strengthen democracy, rule of law, and protection for the fundamental rights enshrined in the Warsaw Declaration. The ISC coordinates a variety of initiatives for civil society, including the civil society forum taking place in the biannual Ministerial Conferences of the Community, which results in a set of recommendations to the Ministerial Declaration made by civil society representatives. I was in charge of translating various documents from Spanish to English for The Community of Democracies.

The Civil Society Policy Forum (CSPF) in Indonesia hosted by the IMF and World Bank Group ‘s annual meeting, which provides a space for CSOs to exchange dialogue and views with IMF and World Bank staff, their peers, government delegations, and other stakeholders.

Fundación Multitudes is a very small non-governmental organization that is composed of 10 employees who take on various roles. Due to this I was able to work closely and in the same office as the CEO and the project director. I wrote two communication protocols to define communication between The Secretariat General of the Community of Democracies and the Chair of the ISC. The protocol included information regarding civil society matters and how it can be communicated properly to the governing council. I was given liberty to design and write it according to my best abilities which was later on reviewed and signed by the CEO of Fundación Multitudes and Secretariat General of The Community of Democracies.

The second project I was in charge of was the creation of a branding and internal communication proposal where I was in charge of designing the new logo for The Community of Democracies. This project challenged me in various ways since I do not have a background in design or marketing and was not sure how to design a logo.

Logos Lluvia Hernandez designed

One of the things I learned through this internship is that when you work for a small organization you will be asked to do projects outside of your field of expertise. This not only challenged me but helped me gain new skills that I can further develop in another position. The last project I was in charge of was the creation of a capacity assessment and survey. This was designed to help Community of Democracies identify areas in which all 25 members of the organization need help in. This was designed to help establish a concrete foundation between members of the organization by identifying the needs and capacities of all 25 members. While I interned for Fundación Multitudes I worked with their external partner where I was in charge of designing projects. As I end my semester here in Santiago Chile I am very appreciative of the opportunity I had to intern while taking courses.

Community of Democracies meeting with the 29 governing council members in Poland

MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

SU’s Santiago Center

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Victoria Fanibi Works on Community Housing in Brazil

This summer, I was fortunate to intern at Catalytic Communities, an advocacy NGO and think-tank based in Rio de Janeiro. The organization runs a variety of programs, but my internship was primarily focused on the Community Land Trust initiative being headed by the organization’s Executive Director. Catalytic Communities is dedicated to formulating networks of discussion between the informal and formal settlements of Rio, community mobilization, and a participatory and asset-based model of development.

The core focus of my internship was on the Community Land Trust (CLT) Initiative, which is a community-managed nonprofit organization that is established to provide permanent affordable housing and build community assets. My main role on this project was to draft materials for our planned workshops in August and to do research on the diverse application of the CLT model. My research on CLT case studies and their diverse application was published in an article for the NGO’s sister organization,  “Rio on Watch” , which is a news source that profiles residents of informal settlements, informal settlement regularization efforts in Brazil, and local events in communities of interest. This research was imperative to my understanding of the applicability of the CLT model in Rio de Janeiro, as well as provided support for my education of other interns in my organization.

While I was mainly concerned with the development of the CLT Initiative in preparation for our August workshops, I was able to engage with interns completing a variety of projects. The most important of those being a study on evictions. I joined fellow interns on community visits to profile residents all over the city of Rio. These community visits were essential in helping me comprehend the effects of land speculation, post-Olympic development issues in Rio, and the failure of the government to provide essential services to its residents. In addition to these community visits, I attended community events. These community events were generally in the same communities that we profile or have the intent to profile. I emphasize these events as this enabled us as interns to see the residents of these informal settlements and strengthen our friendly relationships with them. It was also beneficial in simply getting to understand the culture of Rio.

At the very top of Santa Teresa. On my way to a community visit. Rio is a dense, complicated, and beautiful city

Lastly, I took the time to explore Rio’s sprawling natural landscape. I went on several hikes and, of course, visited the beach. It’s amazing to be laying on the beach in Leme staring at the waves and seeing people rappel on the Sugar Loaf Mountain in the same frame. I also went on a trip to Sao Paulo. The main intent on that trip was to, of course, enjoy myself but it provided an important comparative experience to the function and systems of Rio de Janeiro.

My time in Rio was truly amazing. I am so lucky to have been working for a great organization like Catalytic Communities. I am grateful to have been a witness to a variety of social issues in Rio including community militarization, gentrification, and land speculation. I walk away from this experience with a confidence in what I want to accomplish professionally, one that I didn’t have before.

Victoria Fanibi (back row, far right, red bandana) and Catalytic Communities’ crew visiting Barrinha on the third day of their CLT workshops in August

Victoria Fanibi is a graduate of Maxwell’s MAIR program. After completing her independent internship in Brazil, she finished her degree through Maxwell’s World Partner Program with Tsinghua University in Beijing.

MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

Tsinghua University, World Partner Program

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Kirssy Gonzalez, OAS Database on Trafficking in Persons

My summer internship at the Organization of American States (OAS) was rewarding for many reasons. I am passionate about working in development and migration policies and projects in the Americas. The OAS has increased my expertise in those fields and has given me the opportunity to meet amazing people from different countries.

Kirssy Gonzalez at OAS

My internship was based in the Department of Public Security within the Secretariat for Multidimensional Security. I researched policies, programs, and publications on the prevention of violence and crime in the region. I updated the Inter-American Network for Prevention of Violence and Crime with daily articles and learned about the relation between public security and international development.

I reviewed forms submitted by the National Authorities in the area of trafficking in persons (TIP). These forms included the OAS Member States laws and best practices to combat the heinous crime of TIP. The forms also included information about TIP within their countries. I sorted through this information which will be used for the upcoming database on TIP in the region. This database will include the contact information of government officials and institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and activists that are working against TIP; hotlines for victims and witnesses of the crime; information on resources available for victims; and documents regarding TIP.

The internship has allowed me to meet United States Foreign Service Officers, international civil servants, employees of the Organization of American States, and people from all over the world who work in development, humanitarian assistance, and diplomacy.

This opportunity has been rewarding and I am grateful for the experience.

Kirssy Gonzalez is a graduate of SU’s Maxwell School and College of Arts and Sciences. She has earned both a MA in International Relations (MAIR) from Maxwell and a Pan-African Studies degree from Arts and Sciences. She also formerly interned at International Organization for Migration — the UN Migration Agency — in Geneva during the summer of 2017.

MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

Pan African Studies at SU’s College of Arts and Sciences

Maxwell-in-Washington Program

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At World Vision-Ecuador, Valeria Urbina Cordano Applies Collaborative Governance

Valeria Urbina Urbina Cordano is a De-Sardon Glass Fellow working on the joint MPA/MAIR degree.

Between the months of June and August, I had the opportunity to do my internship at World Vision (WV) in Ecuador. My professional interest in social policies aimed to enhance the quality of life of vulnerable people, particularly in Latin America, motivated me to do an internship with this great NGO.

WV-Ecuador is a Non-profit Organization aimed at increasing the well-being and integral protection of children and youths in Ecuador. To achieve this, WV works with children and youths together with their families and communities to reach their full potential in the exercise of their rights and participation. It also works to promote their economic development.

As an intern, I worked within the Directorate of Integrated Ministry, the department in charge of implementing, monitoring, and evaluating their institutional programs and projects. In a context of organizational change, my responsibilities were twofold. First, I conducted research regarding the inter-institutional cooperation between WV and the public sector oriented towards recommending improvements to WV’s inter-institutional cooperation strategy. Second, I identified and assessed the most important causes of vulnerability in children and youths in order to diversify and increase the positive impacts of WV’s interventions.

Valeria Urbina Cordano conducting a focus group discussion with community leaders in Colta, Chimborazo Province, Ecuador.
Group Photo of the focus group with community leaders in Colta, Chimborazo Province, Ecuador.

I had the great opportunity to lead both endeavors. In this sense, I was in charge of activities such as setting goals, literature research, methodology design, tools’ development, coordination, data collection and systematization, as well as analysis and elaboration of the final report. I really enjoyed reviewing the literature and applying frameworks from my Maxwell courses, particularly, those related to Collaborative Governance.

Moreover, as part of this work, I visited two of WV’s Area Development Programs located in different regions (Colta which is in the highlands, and Santa Ana which is on the coast). There, I conducted interviews with WV’s personnel and partners from the local government. I was able to grasp the perspectives of decision-makers in charge of local policies in education, health, social development, among other areas.

Group Photo of the focus group with community leaders in Santa Ana, Manabí Province, Ecuador.

Furthermore, I conducted two focus groups with community leaders, who in the case of Colta belong to the Kichwa indigenous people. They inspired me. These extraordinary men and women work every day to achieve greater development in their communities. Despite the long distances typical of Ecuadorian rural areas, they attended and participated enthusiastically in the activity.

Valeria Urbina Cordano conducting an interview with the Major of the Municipality of Colta.

This experience was so meaningful for me. It allowed me to strengthen my methodological, analytical and interpersonal skills in a context of cultural diversity. Also, from my fieldwork, I learned more about issues of ‘collaborative governance’ from the current role of WV Ecuador. In this context, for instance, I could identify some challenges for promoting and developing this form of government effectively in Ecuador, Peru, and other Latin American countries. Finally, I met a great team and many people who deepened my passion for working on development policies in this region.

Valeria Urbina Cordano with the Directorate of Integrated Ministry’s team on her last day at work. From left to right, Top: Pamela Toro, Kelly Gonzales, Mabel Bustamante, Milena Olivares, Mares Sandoval, Gabriela Romero. Bottom: Ángel Cucurí, Valeria Urbina, Gabriela Benítez.
Valeria Urbina Cordano in the Historic Center of Quito, Ecuador.

MPA/MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

De-Sardon Glass Fellowship at the Maxwell School

Transforming Conflict in Peru by Alexcia Chambers

Alexcia Chambers is a current Public Diplomacy student who will complete both a Master of Arts in International Relations and a Master of Science in Public Relations by the spring of 2018.

This summer, I had the opportunity to intern in Lima, Peru at ProDiálogo, a civil association that works in conflict resolution and transformation. Given Peru’s landscape, many of its social conflicts revolve around the extractive industries and their interactions with Peru’s government and indigenous communities. ProDiálogo describes conflict as a natural part of human relations—an expression of the disagreements between the interests and needs of those involved. As an intern at ProDiálogo, my job was to analyze the interests and needs of those involved in two separate cases: Las Bambas mine and the Saramuro/Saramurillo oil pipeline.

One of the community projects Alexcia facilitated with ProDiálogo. She is pictured in the bottom right.

Seeing as these are both long-term, ongoing conflicts, my first step was to wrap my head around what was happening in these two cases and why. As with all conflicts, dynamics change over time and different personalities play a major part in what gets done and how. Once I understood who the major players were and the role they played in each conflict, I set out to understand the current state of play. To do this, I engaged most with Peru’s ombudsman’s office—Peru’s public defender tasked with (1) protecting the constitutional rights and freedoms of individuals and the community, and (2) monitoring the performance of the state in carrying out its obligations to the people.

In my two months of developing contacts with the ombudsman’s office and interviewing local indigenous leaders, one lesson stood out: the importance of credible state institutions. In socio-environmental conflict, the interests of private industry, private citizens, and government inevitably intersect. In the two cases I analyzed, private citizens (indigenous communities) often feel that the state institutions built to protect their rights are instead more concerned with protecting the broader national economic agenda. In other words, the people see the government as the chief ally of extractive companies, and therefore an enemy of the people.

Alexcia Chambers.

My relationships and research in Peru allowed me to take broader insights like this one and hone in on the individual people, ministries, and offices involved. Systematically analyzing the needs and interests of government officials, community leaders, and company executives better equip impartial third party actors like ProDiálogo to help transform these conflicts into opportunities in the future.

Alexcia Chambers, Civil Support Planning at NORAD & USNORTHCOM

Public Diplomacy at Maxwell

Robert Gaudio Applies Maxwell Skills in Argentina’s NGO Sector

Robert Gaudio is a Public Diplomacy student who will complete both a Master of Arts in International Relations and a Master of Science in Public Relations by the spring of 2018.

I was fortunate enough to spend the summer of 2017 in Buenos Aires, Argentina as the Investor Relations Intern for Red Argentina para la Cooperaciòn Internacional (RACI). RACI is a network of Argentine NGOs working toward equal and effective distribution of aid and funds throughout Argentina. In conjunction with the multi-national organization, CIVICUS, RACI seeks to create a conversation between citizens, civil society organizations and those who hope to invest in their causes.

Buenos Aires street scene.   Photo credit: Kevin Dooley (Source)

While at RACI, I attended and facilitated events for and with partner organizations, created funding calls, helped launch an online platform that tracks Argentina’s progress toward the UN sustainable development goals, and did my fair share of translating.

Every project I worked on and event I attended were full of invaluable experiences. From learning how to navigate foreign embassy funding calls to facilitating conversation about meaningful issues in my second language, each day was new, exciting and always surprising. I was pleasantly surprised how much of what I learned about cross-cultural communications in my Newhouse & Maxwell courses translated to professional scenarios. I would say that I used every bit of my skills acquired over my first year at Maxwell, down to things in my statistics course, that I never thought would be relevant to my professional career.

Robert Gaudio.

This internship was also incredibly influential to my personal development; I gained a lasting appreciation for my peers and colleagues who study and work in a language other than their native tongue. As you can imagine, the work was both fulfilling and challenging- but I also was able to have a bit of fun! Buenos Aires’ proximity to Uruguay and the rich climate and diversity of Argentina made for full weekends.

Having the opportunity to travel abroad to both work and experience a new culture has made me a better person, student and (hopefully!) a more attractive job candidate.

Mia Mazer Works on Youth Health in Rural Nicaragua

Mia Mazer is a current joint MPA/MAIR (Master of Public Administration/Master of Arts in International Relations) student at the Maxwell School. 

This summer, I completed an internship with AMOS Health & Hope, a public health non-governmental organization in Nicaragua. AMOS works alongside vulnerable communities, both rural and urban, on health, education and development issues in efforts to reduce poverty, disease, and preventable deaths. The organization implements participatory training, supportive supervision, and the community-based participatory research (CBPR) methodology while working alongside communities, allowing the community and its leaders to build upon their strengths.

Mia Mazer.

As a Youth Empowerment Intern, I gained invaluable field experience working with youth leaders in El Bambú, a rural community in the South Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region of Nicaragua. My responsibilities included developing and validating educational materials, facilitating lessons on youth empowerment and sexual and reproductive health issues, and assisting in monitoring and evaluation efforts of the youth empowerment program. Using the Care Group model, youth leaders were imparted lessons on youth empowerment issues that will be shared with their peers, with the objective of promoting healthy behaviors and relationships and preventing drug use, early pregnancy, and suicide. This work is critical given the high rates of gender-based violence and teen pregnancy in Nicaragua.

Mia with local residents in Nicaragua.

This experience gave me the opportunity to see the benefits and challenges of public and foreign policy on the ground, including the strengths and weaknesses of the Nicaraguan health system, the impact of foreign aid and community-based development work, and the power of partnerships. I am certain that this experience will be an important frame of reference in my professional work in social policy and international development. More immediately, it will inform my coursework and provide an important perspective in the classroom as a second year graduate student. Living and working alongside a community with such limited resources and infrastructure was a personally transformative experience and will continue to serve as a reminder of the significant work that lies ahead to reduce global inequalities and my commitment to public service.

Mia Mazer Gains Significant Humanitarian Experience at InterAction

Sonia Rangel, Mastering International Trade Relations

Sonia Rangel is a joint MPA/MAIR. In addition to her Fall Semester in Washington, DC, she interned at Instituto para las Mujeres en la Migración in Mexico City and was part of a team of MPA students who completed a consulting project for Refugee and Immigrant Self Empowerment in Syracuse.

Former US Ambassador, Earl Antony Wayne, and Sonia Rangel at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Without a doubt, my internship this Fall Semester at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars has been a meaningful and wonderful experience. I am a research intern for a Wilson Center Public Policy Fellow and former US Ambassador to Mexico, Earl Anthony Wayne. The internship has been a great opportunity to investigate economic issues and work closely with a former high level diplomat. This has been an exciting experience for me, because it has provided me with the opportunity to learn more about US – Mexico trade relations and economic ties, a vital topic for both countries that was often discussed during this past presidential election. I have developed a more nuanced understanding of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the benefits it has created for both the US and Mexican economy.

In conjunction with the internship, I am enrolled in a Maxwell course on International Trade and Economic Negotiations that has complemented my internship in many ways. The course has allowed me to understand the complexities of a trade negotiation process by which the rules of trade are developed. The research for my internship has exposed me to the effects of trade agreements once they have been implemented.

Additionally, it is a privilege to work at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a living memorial for President SummerWilson, the only US President with a doctorate degree, and a place of research for some of the brightest scholars and experts from around the world. The Center’s mission is focused on independent and in-depth research to form policy proposals through open dialogue. During the course of the internship, I have had the opportunity to attend forums and events hosted at the Wilson Center on a wide range of topics such as Brazil-US relations, transatlantic challenges in fighting violent extremism, and national security in Mexico. Furthermore, I work in an open space among other remarkably intelligent research assistants and scholars investigating a multitude of different issues and topics and have acquired knowledge through their research.

Working with Ambassador Wayne has been a valuable experience. I have developed a deeper understanding of trade and economic issues through the tasks that I have completed. Likewise, I have also enjoyed learning from his deep knowledge and practical experience. I also admire his high level of intuitiveness and graciousness towards all people. Overall, my experience at the Wilson Center has exceeded my expectations and has led to professional and academic growth.

Entrance to the Woodrow Wilson International Center of Scholars
Sonia Rangel at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars library

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Melissa Horste Assists Civil Society in Chile

Melissa Horste is a joint MPA/MAIR student who will be graduating in June 2017. She took advantage of SU Santiago to intern and take courses at Pontificia Universidad Catolica.

Melissa Horste

During the fall of 2016, I interned for a small nonprofit in Santiago, Chile, called Fundacion Multitudes, which seeks to strengthen civil society and improve government transparency in Chile and the region. Admittedly, I felt like the oddball in the organization at first. As a former legislative aid, the nonprofit world is a little foreign to me and in Chile, I found myself having to navigate a different culture in terms of both the sector and the country itself. However, over the course of 4-months and more than 300 hours, my role in the organization shifted from a researcher to project manager as I gained a deeper understanding of the problems facing civil society in the region and put into use the tools we have gained at Maxwell.

Small nonprofits like Fundacion Multitudes rely heavily on a team of energetic, but unpaid, volunteers. As a relatively new nonprofit, Fundacion Multitudes doesn’t have a lot of financial resources, but it makes up for it in networking with other organizations both within Chile and abroad. Fundacion Multitudes has a lot of potential, and I aimed to help them improve their internal processes to build their own capacity. After helping them apply successfully for a grant, my boss made me project manager, and I quickly went to work on developing a Plan de Trabajo. What I thought was a simple Gantt Chart was a revolutionary tool for the organization. (A special ‘Thank you’ to Professor Schnell for introducing us to Tools4Dev, which I used as a constant reference during my internship.) I hope to leave the organization with a packet of tools like this so they are better equipped to develop proposals and implement projects in the future.

Melissa Horste at a geyser in Tatio, Chile

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Internationally Focused Projects for MPA Students, 2016 & 2015

While we mostly cover the exploits of MAIR students on this blog, many MPA students do international projects and go on to work in the global sphere. The MPA Workshop is the culminating course for MPA candidates, where students work on a team of their classmates as consultants for real world clients.

Every year a number of international projects are offered. This year MPA project teams are currently working with the following clients on projects affecting the international community.

Client Project
U.S. Department of Justice, The International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICIPTAP) Developing Monitoring and Evaluation Frameworks for DOJ/ICITAP
Refugee & Immigrant Self-Empowerment (RISE) RISE Strategic Plan
Global FoodBanking Network Critical analysis of current annual data sets collected from non-US partners
AtrocityWatch Creating version 2.0 of the AtrocityWatch Digital Strategy and Planning Roadmap

Last year, students worked with a number of organizations in Latin America in particular and with other organizations focusing on a diverse set of global issues.

Client Project
Ministry of Education of Peru (Ministerio de Educación del Perú), Public-Private Partnership Unit Proposed scheme for Public Private Partnerships in schools in Peru
World Vision Comparative Analysis of Humanitarian and Emergency Affairs Evaluation Policies
The Anticorruption Party of Honduras (Partido Anticorrupción de Honduras) (PAC) Support of the historic Honduras – Transparency International Agreement signed Oct. 6, 2014
Sense & Sustainability (S&S): Fresh Perspectives on Sustainable Development Developing a Fund Development and Nonprofit Management Strategy
U.S. Department of Justice, The International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICIPTAP) ICITAP’s Analytical Approach to Establishing the Conditions Necessary to Promote Sustainable Institutional Development
Amazon Conservation Association (ACA) Performance Monitoring of Research and Ecotourism Lodges in the Context of Conservation NGO Goals: the case of the Amazon Conservation Association
Somali Bantu Community Association of Onondaga County (Now known as Refugee & Immigrant Self-Empowerment (RISE)) SBCA Management Project

While there is no guarantee students will be placed on the exact project team that they would like, over 85% of students received their first or second project choices in the last two years. There are always a number of projects with an international focus for MPA students who want to use their public administration skills to address issues crossing borders.

Projects in Peru make an impact

The Amazon Conservation Association’s own Valerie Peterson said, “The students were extraordinary, and their work will have lasting impacts for years to come. We would look forward to working with your students again next year.” The project team delivered a final report to ACA outlining mechanisms to measure the performance of its ecotourism lodges in Peru. The project team consisted of Elena Borzenkova, Vivian Carandang-Smith, Anna Nicol, and Emily Simonson.

Utilizing remote conferencing, now MPA alumni Maria Laura Veramendi Garcia, Gonzalo Talavera Forlin, James Jarvis, and Gustavo Zanabria collaborated with the Public‑Private Partnership Unit of Peru’s Ministry of Education to create a report concerning recommendations to reduce the infrastructure gap in primary and secondary schools throughout the country.  The final report first analyzes educational PPPs in Australia, Brazil, Canada, and the UK, then makes 13 key recommendations catered specifically to the Peruvian situation. According to faculty advisor Dr. David Van Slyke, “The quality of the work is very high. The sponsor is very happy. What’s especially exciting is that Syracuse as a location is not a barrier. We were skyped in with all the ministerial officials in Lima. The capstone’s group is going to have impact. And, the sponsor got this project for free”.

Photo provided by Jenn Calder from Flickr. Creative Commons license. View the photo on Flickr.

Internationally Focused Projects for MPA Students, 2017