Tag Archives: MAIR

Jane Buchholz Works on Migration at the UN

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

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

Jane visits the Matterhorn.

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

Jane in Gruyere.

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

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

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

Graduate Internships in Geneva

More Global Programs

Emily Ma Finds Taiwan Unforgettable While at Foreign Commercial Service

Emily Ma wrote this post while interning in Taiwan during the fall of 2016. She also interned at United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) during the summer of 2016, where she was posted in Turkey for a time. After graduating with her MAIR degree, she landed a job at USCIS.

Emily Ma (3rd from left) with AIT Director, Kin Moy (4th from left) and other interns

This fall, I was able to travel to Taipei, Taiwan to intern for the American Institute in Taiwan, Commercial Section. The American Institute in Taiwan is the de-facto embassy for the United States in Taiwan, created under the Taiwan Relations Act after the United States acknowledged China’s “One-China Policy.” The functioning of AIT is no different than a typical American Embassy other than the fact that the titles of the officers are slightly different. For example, the “ambassador” is called the “director” of the Institute.

The Commercial Section is run under the Commerce Department rather than the State Department, meaning that in our lobby, we have framed pictures of President Obama and Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker rather than Secretary of State John Kerry. The purpose of the Foreign Commercial Service (FCS) is to provide assistance to U.S. Firms hoping to export abroad, or foreign entities looking to invest into the United States. Although there are other groups such as the U.S. Trade Representative, and the Economics section of the State Department, The FCS provides assistance to individual companies for a minimal fee. The fee is simply to allow the Commercial Section, an entity representing the U.S. government, to assist one individual company without providing assistance to all other U.S. companies (although it is available once the basic fee is paid).

As an intern, I have been able to attend meetings with both U.S. and Taiwan representatives of the public and private sector. I have assisted with several trade shows in which American companies have taken part in, and have done thorough research on the burgeoning activity in the area of smart city technology.

Taiwan itself is a beautiful island with friendly locals. Commercially, it is the gateway to Asia. Amidst the fierce competition, as firms try to enter China, many overlook Taiwan. Developed, and with close ties to China, Taiwan businesses are eager to diversify their portfolio, and are always looking for something new.

Whether it is for tourism, or business, Taiwan is definitely not a place to forget.

Global Programs in China:

SU Beijing

Summer Internships in Shanghai

Corena Sharp Learns How State Department Promotes Labor Rights

Corena Sharp was a MAIR student who also spent last summer interning at UNICEF in Geneva. She wrote this post last fall, and is now a new Maxwell alumnus.

Corena Sharp (center, 6th from left), Office of International Labor Affairs in DOS’ Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor

Ever read a Human Rights Report released by the State Department? They are released every year and cover every country in the world, and then some. U.S. Diplomats and NGOs alike use them to advocate for human rights. Section 7 of these reports details workers’ rights. I never considered the fascinating position of labor rights before I interned in the Office of International Labor Affairs (ILA) within the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL).

Unlike many human rights, labor rights are often considered oppositional human rights. It is rare that someone would stand up and argue that people do not deserve clean drinking water, but champions of workers’ rights often face skepticism and even hostility. When countries compete for trade deals, they often create a ‘race to the bottom’ where the lowest compensation and fewest benefits make countries and companies more competitive in the name of economic growth. However, many have begun asking ‘growth for whom?’ The Sustainable Development Goals are trying to address this issue through the promotion of ‘inclusive growth.’ The strongest force for protecting workers is the freedom of association and collective bargaining. Yet, few things can shut down a conversation faster than the word ‘unions.’ Achieving decent work is incredibly important for sustainable development; the challenge is changing the perceived either-or categories that labor rights and economic growth are often given.

My small office takes the lead to develop Section 7 into an effective tool for advocates. Developing a successful final draft of these reports goes beyond just proofreading. An effective report is built from research contributed by every editor and thus requires clear communication among the drafters. By utilizing SharePoint, DRL fosters the collaboration among Foreign Service Officers at embassies abroad, editors in regional offices, and policy offices such as ILA.  ILA in turn coordinates with the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons and the Department of Labor. Back-to-back tranches of these reports flow into the office—each with different editors depending on their successful completion of each stage of the editing process. The more complete the report, the better a government can be held accountable.

Learn more about the Maxwell-in-Washington program

Jack Gall Helps Promote Accountability in Foreign Policy

Jack Gall in Washington, DC

Jack Gall is a recent graduate of the MAIR program who wrote this post while interning during his final Fall Semester. Prior to interning, he also completed a summer course at the Brookhaven National Laboratory on the framework created by the international community to address the threats of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism. He combined this with an independent research project with a Maxwell faculty.

This fall in Washington DC has been a rewarding experience as I have worked as the Center for International Policy’s national security intern during some of the most exciting and turbulent times in our nation’s capital in our nation’s capital in recent history.

The Center for International Policy (CIP) is a think tank that promotes transparency, cooperation, and accountability in foreign public policy. CIP was founded shortly after the Vietnam War’s end and has for decades engaged in research and advocacy programs ranging from arms control reform and diplomatic conflict resolution to US security assistance monitoring and environmental protection. The majority of my work has been supporting CIP’s national security program, led by Harry C. Blaney III. A State Department diplomat of over 20 years, Mr. Blaney runs a blog that covers and commentates on current US foreign policy events called Rethinking National Security. Harry has been an invaluable mentor in analyzing the impact of current events, preparing for my post-graduate plans, and fully appreciating the enriching opportunities Washington DC has to offer (he’s particular to local art galleries and I highly recommend the Phillips Collection).

By far the storyline that dominated coverage for the national security program was coverage of the 2016 Presidential Election and the following transition process. My primary responsibilities have been following daily election developments, providing worthwhile quotes, and proofreading and posting regular blog posts. In addition, I have worked to expand the blog’s readership through social media outreach and occasionally wrote posts of my own focusing on my interests such as nuclear security. As an exception to a generational stereotype, I didn’t have much experience with Twitter prior to my internship, so outreach has come with a bit of a learning curve.

Outside of working on the blog, my time at CIP also includes front desk duty and occasionally assisting other programs with open-source resource, database correction, and one hectic but memorable envelope-stuffing marathon for fundraising. My fellow interns are passionate about the work they do in promoting CIP’s mission for a peaceful and cooperative world. Overall, my time at the Center for International Policy has provided valuable professional experience in the public policy arena and taught me the importance of being inquisitive, assertive, and understanding in my work.

Jack Gall and Harry C. Blaney III at CIP

Austin Strain, Jack Gall, Celina Menzel, Leyko Nagayoshi, and Paritt Nguiakaramahawongse at CIP’s Pumpkin Social Function

Learn more about the Maxwell-in-Washington program

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

More Global Programs

Phuong Ha, CSIS’ Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative

Phuong Ha is a recent alumni who graduated with a MAIR degree in December 2016. He wrote this post about his experience interning at CSIS during the 2016 Summer Semester. In the end, he interned at CSIS during his final Fall Semester as well. During both semesters he completed his MAIR degree by taking evening courses at the Maxwell­-in-Washington campus located in the same building as CSIS.

For this summer, I am currently interning at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and working with the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI). The experience has been life changing thus far.

As a research intern, I contribute to the long-term research projects of not only AMTI, but the Southeast Asia program and Japan Chair as well. AMTI covers all Asia maritime disputes ranging from the Indian Ocean to the Sea of Okhotsk. Although, we heavily focus on the South China Sea and East China Sea issues given their rising tensions, and simultaneously pay attention to other “subtle” disputes such as the Kuril Islands/Northern Territories dispute between Russia and Japan.

In greater detail, we monitor the evolvement of these disputes by scouring media for news and tracking government statements either via news reporting agencies or foreign affairs websites. One would be surprised with how many government and foreign affairs’ web pages do not work or contain severely outdated content. Another interesting component of my internship involves analyzing satellite imagery of contested maritime features in the South China Sea. By checking Digital Globe daily and comparing newly released imagery to older versions, we strive to identify the development and status of those features, which can help with the Initiative’s analysis. Other duties include updating social media outlets, staging information of mapping tools on the website, and providing general administrative support at AMTI, Japan Chair, and Southeast Asia’s events.

As one of the most prominent think tanks in the world, CSIS is far from being an unwelcoming place for staff, interns, or guests. I have had incredible opportunities to interact with both resident and non-residents and visiting fellows from all over the world within my Asia department. Likewise, other staff members from different programs and departments are quite friendly and approachable. More importantly, everyone at CSIS is highly professional when it comes to international affairs. Even though I have less chance to directly interact with senior fellows or advisers simply due to their busy schedules and inherent variations of each program, I have always felt acknowledged and appreciated whenever I can afford such an opportunity.

This experience has indeed been a dream came true. I truly appreciate my opportunity to intern for such a great security think tank, where I have been exposed and observed the process of world class foreign policy engagement and research.

The Honorable Ted Osius, U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam (left) and Phuong Ha. The Ambassador visited CSIS on June 8, 2016.

The Honorable Ted Osius, U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam (left) and Phuong Ha. The Ambassador visited CSIS on June 8, 2016.

Learn more about the Maxwell-in-Washington program

Mikhail Strokan, CSIS’ Russia & Eurasia Program

Mikhail Strokan is a MAIR student considering pursuing a PhD.

This summer, I interned in the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), based in Washington, DC. CSIS is one of the world’s leading think-tanks, dedicated to providing strategic insights and policy solutions to help decision‑makers chart a course “toward a better world.” Established over 50 years ago, the Center for Strategic and International Studies is a bipartisan, nonprofit policy research organization. CSIS’s audience encompasses people of all professions with an interest in foreign policy, international relations, military issues, world and regional cultures, etc. In particular, the Russia and Eurasia program (REP) targets two broader audiences: English-speakers and Russian-speakers.

These three months of working at CSIS gave me important insight into how global think‑tanks are structured and run. I was able to meet and work with America’s leading experts in the fields of Russian and Eurasian studies, nuclear proliferation, nationalism, etc. Just as importantly, I met brilliant fellow interns representing other U.S. universities. They contributed to a very friendly and helpful environment, which helped me to survive the hectic and busy schedule of a research intern. They served as an amazing example of how people may be passionate about the work they are doing, and by the end of three intense months working together, we became good friends.

Besides work, I was able to participate in many outdoor events including celebrating my first Independence Day in the U.S.A. I was so lucky to have been in D.C. for this holiday! Due to heavy rain on that day, the National Mall was much less crowded than it usually is during such events. I had a front-row seat to the nation’s most impressive fireworks show.

The summer Maxwell course with Michael O’Hanlon, a very engaging professor and an expert at the Brookings Institution, enabled me to dive deeper into broader geostrategic issues while discussing the ultimate question of who will eventually come to rule this century. Even though combining classwork and internship-related work was difficult, thanks to the Maxwell‑CSIS partnership, I was able to attend the course in the same building in which I worked without spending an inordinate amount of time on commuting across the city.

Mikhail Strokan with fellow CSIS interns

Mikhail Strokan with fellow CSIS interns

Mikhail Strokan in front of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial

Mikhail Strokan in front of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial

Mikhail Strokan at CSIS' front door

Mikhail Strokan at CSIS’ front door

Learn more about the Maxwell-in-Washington program

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

Learn more about the Graduate Internships in Geneva Program

More Global Programs

Emily Ma Takes Unexpected Path from DC to Turkey

Emily Ma is a MAIR student who wrote this post last summer. She is currently interning at the U.S. Commercial Service in Taipei, Taiwan.

The course of my summer in Washington D.C. did not turn out as expected at all. I accepted an internship with the United States Citizen and Immigration Services under the Department of Homeland Security as a Pathways Intern. On the first day of the internship, I found myself assigned to the Refugee Affairs Division. Blindly diving into this internship, it has turned out to be a profoundly rewarding experience, and a potential turning point in my career.

A division that works rather under the radar (my supervisors have admitted), the Refugee Affairs Division is the adjudicating authority on all refugee applications into the United States.  The RAD Office (as the US Government – USG – is so fond of acronyms), is comprised of several different sections, but I was the intern for the Refugee Corps. Refugee Officers within the Refugee Corps are sent on monthly details around the world to adjudicate refugee applications after they have been referred to the United States by UNHCR. I had heard about refugee resettlement within the US, and RAD is the final security check, pre-arrival.

The first project with which I was tasked was to organize and coordinate a large hiring surge of officers for the division. I organized resumes, collected letters of recommendation, and had the opportunity to sit in on several interviews.

After successfully completing the first project within the first three weeks working at RAD, my supervisors decided to send me to Turkey as a fingerprinter on the next detail. Despite the several setbacks due to recent events in Turkey, the US Embassy in Turkey confirmed that it was safe for our team to continue the mission. So, somehow, here I am writing this blog post in Turkey. I’ve been working directly (fingerprinting can be surprisingly difficult at times) with refugees, and the Refugee Officers on my team allow me to observe their interviews with refugee applicants.

Working with refugees and leaving the country had most assuredly not been in my plans when I moved down to DC this summer, but I guess it just goes to show that you’ll never know where life will take you.

P.S. Refugee Officers want to make it clear that refugee adjudications are made by the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Refugee Affairs Division, not the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.

Emily Ma at the Bosphorus in Istanbul, Turkey

Emily Ma at the Bosphorus in Istanbul, Turkey

Learn more about the Maxwell-in-Washington program

Ann Van Reconnects by Working with Refugees

Syracuse is a refugee resettlement city, offering students the possibility of getting involved with this community, and interning at organizations assisting refugees. Ann Van is currently completing course work in Syracuse towards her MAIR degree.

My identity, ever since childhood, has centered around being Vietnamese‑American. These are words with a lot of meaning packed into them.

Vietnamese: I get this from my parents, and their parents, and their parents—but these folks are long gone.

The hyphen: war. A war turns me from Vietnamese to American. It pushes my parents up mountains, across oceans and out of the country.

 American: I am the first born in the new world. I have opportunity ahead of me. But even at a young age, I was trapped in being the provider—the parent to my parents. I deeply resented that hyphen for creating me and making me provide out of necessity.

It was only this past year that I tapped back into the world of migrants and new Americans by volunteering through the Syracuse University Program for Refugee Assistance (SUPRA). For a handful of reasons, I felt very lonely in Syracuse while studying at the Maxwell School. But on the first day with SUPRA, I felt like I was reliving the good parts of home.

This inspired me to reconnect with my refugee background, which led me to a summer internship with the Carolina Refugee Resettlement Agency (CRRA). CRRA is a small agency serving the Charlotte, North Carolina area. Over one hundred individuals from across the world were resettled over the summer. I met folks from countries I barely recognized on maps. (Can you find Eritrea?)

A couple things helped make this internship very fulfilling: 1) SUPRA prepared me for interacting and connecting with clients despite language, age or educational differences. I also taught classes to refugee clients, empowered by the experience I gained with SUPRA. 2) The global programs award* allowed me to intern full time, while many of my co-interns left midday to work part time jobs. The award also gave me freedom to take clients on special field trips—to landmarks, parks and local cafes—because my fuel bill was not covered by the agency.

This was a very meaningful internship for me, because I reconnected with moments of my past. I also found company in some resilient and impressive refugees who I continue to stay in touch with. I recommend that everyone use this time in their professional lives to pursue a meaningful experience. The global programs award and other resources at the Maxwell School serve to enhance these moments.

*Global Programs Awards are available to students pursuing off-campus opportunities.

At CRRA, clients are shown their first American park near the bus routes during transportation class.

At CRRA, clients are shown their first American park near the bus routes during transportation class.

At CRRA, clients went around the room pointing out their home countries on a map during cultural orientation class.

At CRRA, clients go around the room pointing out their home countries on a map during cultural orientation class.