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Khem Sedhai’s Remarkable Semester of Courses, Interning, & Events

The Fall 2018 semester has been a remarkable period for both of my academic and professional career. I participated in the Global Security and Development Program at Maxwell-in-Washington at CSIS.

Khem Sedhai in front of the U.S. Capital Building

The Global Sustainability and Development class was an extraordinary course taught by Professor Melinda Kimble. The focus was on the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and policy recommendations with an emphasis on climate change and environmental issues. The class discussions mainly concentrated on analyzing international agreements and action plans; assessing national policies in alignment with SDGs; and describing the economic, social and environmental interlinkages among various SDGs.

Khem with Professor Melinda Kimble in DC

The other course I was enrolled in was Statecraft and Smart Power in the Digital Era, offered by Professor Shannon N. Green. The course focused on a strong foundation on public diplomacy by the use of policy formulation, interagency decision-making, and the practice of public diplomacy. I was very much inspired and motivated with the public diplomacy programs administered by the US government agencies and other non-profit organizations. Those seeking employment in public service, NGOs, think tanks, and consulting firms would find this course most appealing.

I worked as a Public Policy and Advocacy Intern at InternAction. It helped me to observe and analyze on the policy strategies of many of its member organizations by attending various events and policy discussion meetings. During the internship, my major assignment was researching newly elected US Congressmen and their political stand on foreign assistance. I accomplished this using advanced research and advocacy skills with my newly acquired knowledge on the American political system. I would like to offer special thanks to the InterAction team, Professor Ryan Williams, Samantha Clemence, and Isaac Olson for their great support and guidance during the period.

Khem at NAGPS

During the semester, I participated in many events of the World Bank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the Brookings Institution, the National Association of Professional-Graduate Students (NAGPS) among others. The Global Partnership for Social Accountability (GPSA) forum of the World Bank was held with the theme “Money Matters: Public Finance and Social Accountability for Human Capital.” I found this event very valuable as I was able to meet and interact with many activists working in the field of social accountability, governance, and education.

Khem at the GPSA forum of the World Bank

The second conference I participated in was Law, Justice and Development Week 2018. Interacting with justices, lawyers, students, and development workers from all over the world was a very enriching experience. Hearing their perspectives and best practices in relation with law, justice and development which are, as we know integral parts of sustainable development.

Khem at Law, Justice and Development Week

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Bonus: Hear Khem speak about his Maxwell Experience at IIE’s conference.

Khem Sedhai Networks and Attends Events in DC & NYC

 

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

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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.

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Tsinghua University, World Partner Program

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Giovanna de Miranda, Preventing Violence at FFP

For my summer semester, I participated in the Maxwell in DC program. While in DC, I interned for Fund For Peace (FFP), a non-profit organization that focuses on conflict reduction and violence prevention. FFP uses data analysis and risk assessment tools to provide information on violence, risks, and vulnerabilities around the world. The organization’s work focuses on conflict early warning responses, election violence prevention, capacity building, responsible business practices, and combating violent extremism.

While interning at Fund for Peace, I had the chance to be involved in different projects. For instance, I participated in a project on election violence prevention in Nigeria. During this project I conducted research on election violence using risk assessment tools and quantitative data. By analyzing the data from previous election years, the project attempted to understand trends of violence in order to predict strategies for the prevention of violence in the country’s next elections in 2019.

Giovanna (front, center) with fellow interns

I also worked on a conflict early warning capacity building training for the African Development Bank. I collaborated in putting together a case study that would be used in the training of AfDB economists on how to face vulnerabilities and prevent violence in the African continent. In addition, I was also engaged in research projects on ICTs and Blockchains in Sub-Saharan Africa and GBV in small-scale mining.

My work at Fund For Peace was a very enriching experience that taught me more about conflict early warning prevention outside of academia. I got to experience how organizations use conflict resolution and violence prevention strategies to affect change. More so, I also gained valuable skills in using different types of methodologies and assessment tools to conduct substantive research. Overall, my internship at Fund For Peace was a valuable and educational opportunity that will contribute to my future career goals.

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Ian Gottesfeld Applies Statistics to International Energy Markets

I spent this summer interning at the Department of Energy’s US Energy Information Administration, commonly known as EIA. I had applied to a general internship with the DOE, and was ultimately placed at EIA. Before the internship began, I had a limited knowledge of energy and was unfamiliar with the work EIA did. After interning at this organization, I can say was very lucky to have this experience.

Ian Gottsfeld at the EIA

I had a hunch that I would like working in energy and I was right. EIA primarily produces statistics, analyses and forecasts for the US energy market. However, my specific office – the Office of International Energy Analysis – publishes international energy statistics and conducts analyses on energy markets in foreign countries. As an intern, I had the opportunity to both work in statistics and perform analysis. With the help of full-time “feds,” I transformed data from other sources and analyzed it against ours. I also conducted my own analysis on the energy scenario in various countries. I learned an incredible amount and found my work fascinating. Energy markets are an interesting mix of economics, politics and science, with many moving parts. I also felt that the work I did was important.

Ian Gottsfeld with U.S. Department of Energy Seal

Of all places in the energy sector, I feel fortunate to have landed at EIA. It is considered one of the premier sources of energy data in the world, and used by nearly everyone in the energy sector, including many people I have met in Washington. My coworkers are also exceptional people. EIA is an interesting mix of economists, scientists and international affairs specialists, many with PhDs. The depth of their knowledge of energy markets impresses me every day.

Finally, despite the fact that my coursework in energy had been limited prior to starting the internship, Maxwell and Syracuse prepared me well for the work I did. The three economics courses I took at Maxwell helped me to understand the dynamics of energy markets and prices, which I come across daily. Meanwhile, the Data Science course I took at the iSchool provided me with skills I utilized in some of my larger data projects. While energy is a new field for me, the skills I took from graduate school were highly applicable and practicing them on the job was a gratifying experience.

Ian Gottsfeld is a recent graduate of the MAIR program. He also interned at the U.S. Government Accountability Office during his final Fall Semester.

Ian Gottsfeld outside the U.S. Department of Energy

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Assil Alnaser Focuses on European Media in Brussels

The Brussels program gave me the opportunity to complete an internship with OPEN Media Hub. OMH is a project for networking, on-the-job training, and support to media professionals across the EU Neighborhood. The project is funded by the EU and implemented by a consortium led by Thomson Foundation (UK), including Action Global Communications Ltd (Cyprus), European Journalism Centre (Netherlands), France Medias Monde (France), Free Press Unlimited (Netherlands), Market & Opinion Research International Ltd (Ipsos MORI) (UK) and Particip GmbH (Germany). The project includes a series of capacity building, production and networking activities, including the organization of a number of different types of training and exchange events for journalists in each of the 17 countries in the Neighborhood area of the EU.

The main advantage of the Brussels internship is the various networking opportunities. The time of the program is full of events and conferences. By following these events, I had a fantastic opportunity to meet different people working on Middle Eastern and migration issues.  Another advantage of this internship is that it helped me to identify the particular area to write for my independent study. Working in the media sector helped me understand the media impact on migration policies in Europe. It gave me the courage to write on the topic. I met many figures in the field and did  semi-structured interviews with them for my independent study. It is also worth mentioning that having an internship in Brussels is so beneficial for your CV as it demonstrates experience in various countries.

European Commission

On the whole, the Brussels program was a useful experience. I have gained new knowledge, skills and met many new people from different fields. I achieved several of my learning goals. I got insight into professional practice. I learned the various sides of working within a European institution. It has also improved my skills in reporting for media and strengthened my professional ability to work in a multicultural environment.

The speakers’ sessions that were part of the course were linked directly to working with European institutions. This program was an excellent opportunity to test out the skills that I developed in Maxwell. For example, I transferred the academic writing skills that I learned in Maxwell to write a featured article that was published on the OMH website.

I am satisfied with my experience in Brussels as it perfectly matched my career plans to gain more expertise, as well as more exposure to different organizational systems in order to become a better professional.

Assil Alnasser is a recent graduate of the Maxwell School’s MAIR program.

Assil Alnaser in Brussels
2018 SU Brussels Program Participants

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Zeyar Win Assists VOA with Rohingya Issues

I participated in the Maxwell-in-Washington summer practicum and had the opportunity to intern at Voice of America (VOA), the largest US International broadcasting service funded by the federal government. This internship provided me the opportunity to merge two things I’m strongly interested in: broadcasting and media framing. I have been interested in the media since I was young, so this was a great opportunity for me to work there.

My off-campus experience working with VOA in Washington D.C. was terrific and fruitful. I also related it to my previous activism experience in Burma. I fulfilled three main tasks at the VOA: 1) I collected information about the Rohingya problem, especially from research papers, statements of all stakeholders, and relevant news from eight selective websites. Then, I put them into an excel sheet altogether with my own analysis. This helped VOA with further content analysis on the Rohingya problem. 2) I observed the newsroom where there was broadcasting and editing of the TV news. 3) I found some eligible Rohingya speakers living in the U.S. and connected them to the VOA Bengal service for a new Rohingya language broadcasting program. This internship has also improved my skills in reporting for media and strengthened my professional ability to work in a multicultural environment.

Washington D.C. is a vibrant environment for me to learn and an excellent opportunity to broaden my network even though living in D.C. is a bit challenging for me because of high living expenses. During the weekend, I tried to meet with my many new friends, and talk about my future plans. For instance, I joined the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a hearing on the rights of victims of grave human rights abuses in Burma. At this event, I met with many people from different organizations working on Burma’s issues. I also met with the former U.S. Ambassador and Charge d’ Affairs of Burma and discussed about Rohingya ethnic cleansing in Burma.

I often joined the Maxwell alumni gatherings in Washington, D.C. as well. Those gatherings were helpful for me because we can share knowledge and information with each other, and sometimes, discuss with each other about our plans, internships, and job opportunities.

Zeyar Win is a MAIR student and Open Society Scholar. He is currently interning at Amnesty International in Washington, DC.

Zeyar Win at VOA

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Ivan Ponomarev Wastes No Time with Two Internships in DC

I spent this summer in Washington D.C. as part of the Maxwell-in-Washington summer program. I have never been to our nation’s capital before, so this was definitely quite the experience. From visiting monuments and museums to attending concerts and interesting presentations, this summer had no shortage of things to keep me busy. Add a summer class and two internships to the mix and you barely even have time to sit down and relax, but not in a bad
way. Why would you want to when the summer is short and any second wasted will only be a future regret?

Ivan Ponomarev at the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy holding the organization’s logo with their “tracks.”

Aside from the coursework and all of the fun activities, the professional experience that I gained at my two internships was invaluable. Sure, it was tough balancing the two when there are
only 40 hours in a workweek, but the different experiences that I had and the different skills that I acquired were well worth it. I spent part of my time interning at Nonviolence International, which is an organization that works to promote conflict resolution through nonviolence and to create a worldwide culture of peace. My responsibilities included the oversight and planning of an educational peace tour to Ukraine, as well as research and outreach to potential participants for this trip.

My second internship this summer was at the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy, which works to promote a systems-based approach to peacebuilding and to facilitate the transformation of deeply-rooted social conflict. My responsibilities included conducting research on the conflict and peacebuilding sector and producing white papers, as well as analyzing conflict zones and identifying potential funders, partners and peer competitors.

I am eternally grateful for the wonderful opportunities that I had this summer, as it was certainly one to remember. I will always look back at this summer as an important building block in the person that I will become and am beyond excited to find out what lies ahead in my future.

Ivan Ponomarev is a MAIR student doing a second semester in the Maxwell-in-Washington program. He is currently interning at National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START).

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Khem Sedhai Networks and Attends Events in DC & NYC

I had a wonderful experience in DC during Summer 2018. I completed a course “Who Will Rule the 21st Century” as a part of the Washington Summer Practicum. The course advanced my knowledge and skills in the areas of economic success, military strength, the rise and fall of great powers within the international system, and global threats to human beings such as global warming and nuclear proliferation. Since the classes were in the evenings, I had ample time to participate in different conferences and workshops organized by the World Bank, United Nations, different developmental organizations, diplomatic offices, and policy institutions.

Khem Sedhai at ABCDE Conference

The two conferences at the World Bank – Annual Bank Conference on Development Economics (ABCDE), and the Nepal Day workshop – were imperative for me. The ABCDE conference helped me to expand my understanding of political economy. The Nepal Day workshop was focused on economic and developmental agendas on Nepal in the context of the changing political situation and the recently formed government. The Honorable Minister of Finance and other senior government officials from Nepal, other countries, regional representatives of the World Bank, and senior officials from various development partners and donors’ organizations participated. It offered me an opportunity to analyze closely how the world bank works with developing countries.

Khem Sedhai at Nepal Day at the World Bank
Khem Sedhair with Nepal’s Honorable Finance Minister at Nepal Day

During the summer, I also participated in a three-day International Human Rights Summit at the United Nations Headquarters in NYC,  which was organized by Youth for Human Rights International. Interacting with participants from different parts of the world was an awesome opportunity for me to be updated with the current human rights scenario and challenges worldwide. Similarly, at the NAFSA Education Abroad Regulatory Summit, I had a chance to be familiar with the US government’s policies and regulations related to study abroad.

Khem Sedhair at UN in NYC
Khem Sedhai at NAFSA Youth for Human Rights Summit

Interaction program with Magsaysay Awardee, Mr. Mahabir Pun on Sustainable Economic Development through Technological Innovation in the Developing Countries was an incredible workshop I participated in this Summer. Others include the various events organized by Center for Global Development (CGD), the Brookings Institution, Center of Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Third Way, International Development Institute, Young Professionals in International Education (yPIE), Together for Human Rights Campaign, and special workshops organized by Maxwell-in-Washington, Maxwell Alumni.

Khem Sedhai with Mahabir Pun in Washington, DC

I would like to express my gratefulness to the team of the Maxwell School and the Maxwell-in-Washington program, professors, Maxwell alumni and funders for their generous support. For me, it was more about networking plus events this summer.

Khem Sedhai at the Maxwell School in Syracuse, NY
Khem Sedhai at the U.S. Capital

Khem Sedhai is a MAIR student currently interning at InterAction in Washington, DC.

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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.

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