Tag Archives: MAIR

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 Sedai 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.

MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

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

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Kyungmi Shin Initiates Children & Digital Marketing Outreach at UNICEF

This summer I interned at UNICEF in Geneva. My team was the Children’s Rights and Business Unit within the Private Sector Engagement Division of the Private Fundraising Partnerships (PFP) Department. UNICEF headquarters is located in New York, but the entire PFP department is based in Geneva. Due to my previous work experience in the private sector, I have been interested in exploring the intersection of the public and private sectors, and this was a great experience which helped me to expand my expertise and pursue a future career in this field.

Kyungmi shin at the Palais des Nations where here office was located.

As a graduate intern, I was able to get involved in several projects such as the Children and Digital Marketing initiative. I was in charge of finding ways to make the Children and Digital Marketing discussion paper more child-friendly so that children can easily understand what digital marketing is and how it affects their rights.

I developed the idea of creating an animated video which can grab children’s attention with youth-friendly story telling. After watching this short video, children are asked to answer a survey which is designed to find out how much they actually understand the content and what their opinions are regarding this topic. I was given the ownership to initiate and lead the project, and I am happy to finish my internship with actual deliverables.

Before joining UNICEF, I had a very limited knowledge of human rights and how the private sector is engaged with children’s rights. After three months of interning, I am convinced that the role of corporations in children’s rights is significant not only in the aspect of child labor but also in children’s role as consumers and their impact on corporations. This great lesson is so meaningful that I would like to further explore more ways to learn about public and private partnerships. After reviewing a number of impact assessment reports on children’s rights and business from numerous country offices and human rights institutes, I am confident to say that my skills in researching, creating reports, and communication also improved.

Despite the high living costs of Geneva, it was definitely a great experience that expanded my horizons, and I am grateful to share this UN experience in this amazingly beautiful city.

Kyungmi Shin is a MAIR student at the Maxwell School currently interning at the International Finance Corporation in Washington, DC.

Kyungmi Shin in the Swiss Alps.

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Katherine Hewitt, Life, Studies, & Interning at the Pompidou Group in Strasbourg

This past summer, I had the opportunity to live in Strasbourg, France as a participant of the Summer Internships in Strasbourg program. I interned with the Council of Europe as well as studied religion and human rights at SU’s Strasbourg Center.

The Strasbourg Center is in a perfect location, surrounded by diplomatic missions and easily accessible by several bus and tram routes.  The Center very quickly becomes the focus of your day to day life.  They organized monthly picnics with foods from the local market and weekend excursions in France and Germany for all students.  Even from before our arrival the staff at the Center was very active in making sure our arrival and adaptation to Strasbourg was smooth.  They answered all of our questions and helped a couple of us find a place to get our laptops fixed.  I was even able to use the Director’s connections to find my next internship at Caritas in Bosnia.

During the summer there are students participating in several programs: engineering, French language, religion and human rights, or the intern program.  They were all undergraduate students both from SU and from other universities.  But by the second week, we were all good friends, hanging out after class and on the weekends. It’s been several months since the end of the program, but we all still talk to each other.

Weekly picnic with fellow Strasbourg Center students

Living in Strasbourg is quite relaxing and easy.  The city’s public transportation is extensive and easy to use.  The trams can take you anywhere, even across the Rhine to Germany!  The Center provides you with a renewable pass so that you have unlimited access to public transportation.  But, if you leave yourself enough time, it’s quite enjoyable to just walk everywhere too.  There is an option to live with a host family, but I decided to live by myself.  I had a quaint little apartment in an area known as Petit France looking over the canal.  I lived above a typical Alsatian restaurant, and every morning and afternoon the wait staff would say Bonjour and exchange some pleasantries.  It really made you feel like you were apart of French life!

The religion and human rights course is extremely interesting.  While I focus on human rights, I hadn’t explored this connection before.  The professor, Yuksel Sezgin, teaches the course in a very approachable manner.  It is very clear he is passionate about what he teaches and wants all of his students to walk away with an increased knowledge of the subject.  For a grad student, the nightly readings were manageable, but more importantly were engaging.  He used his connections at the local university and the Council of Europe to bring in guest speakers that really expand our understanding of religion and human rights in a comparative context.  Even if you decide not to go on this study abroad, I highly recommend taking one of his classes on campus.

Council of Europe, main building

Interning at the Council of Europe was probably the highlight of the summer. Through the universities connection with Thomas Kattau, the Deputy Security of the Pompidou Group, I was offered an internship alongside another undergraduate participant. The Pompidou Group analyses trafficking trends and national strategies on drugs as well as promotes public health solutions to drug use.

While I was there, I worked on several projects.  My first big task was to write the Meeting Report for the Annual Airports Group Meeting.  For three days, I attended the meeting taking notes and meeting with various officials from across Europe and the world.  It was an excellent opportunity to see how international organizations share best practices and “success” stories.

Agora Building, location of the Pompidou Group

I started to work on preparing for the 17th Ministerial Conference that will be held in November.  Among typical tasks like preparing papers on the project outcomes, making schedules, and writing speeches, I had a unique opportunity to set up an app for the event.

Everyone in the office made me feel welcome and included.  They would pop by my office every now and then to chat and see how I was getting along with their assignments.  I was always given interesting tasks to complete and many of them prepared me for my next internship.

Katherine Hewitt is a MAIR student on her last semester at the Maxwell School. She is currently interning at Caritas in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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Giovanna Saccoccio, Showered with Kindness in Ghana

Giovanna Saccoccio came into the MAIR degree as a Fast Track student directly from Maxwell’s BA International Relations program.

During the summer of 2018, I interned at the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Accra, Ghana. The IOM is the UN agency dealing with issues related to migration, and its mission is to promote humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all.

Before going to Ghana, my main objectives were to gain field experience in a developing country, comparing the theories I have learned with the reality on the ground, and gaining exposure to the internal workings of a UN agency. My main goal was to understand whether I want to work in the development and/or humanitarian field. The projects I worked on helped me in this by letting me work with communities firsthand, which made me realize the impact I can have as a foreigner in local contexts.

Together with other Syracuse University students, I worked on projects related to child trafficking in the Volta Region of Ghana and on assisted voluntary return and reintegration of Ghanaians who have returned from countries such as Libya and Algeria.

Giovanna (far right, facing away) assisting community members with questionnaires about possible initiatives to better their community

It was sometimes challenging to deal with the reality on the ground, lack of information and strong language barriers. Still, I was happy to be exposed to the field and the professional and personal challenges that come with it. Altogether, these experiences allowed me to understand various issues related to the migration, and how to best interact with people affected by them.

Maxwell students (Lindzi Ngati left, Giovanna Saccoccio center, and Sunil Casuba) plus SU student Tran Khang. (center, back) with IOM staff on a break from focus groups with returnees and community leaders.

“While the rest of the world has been improving technology, Ghana has been improving the quality of man’s humanity to man.”

These words from Maya Angelou rang true throughout my stay in Ghana. I was showered with kindness and friendliness everywhere I went. Most of all, despite all the issues still afflicting the country, it was fascinating to witness the peace and coexistence in such a culturally and religiously diverse country.

Giovanna with a community member

The two months I spent in Ghana allowed me to expand my worldview and my interests. I had never been to Africa before, and I did not know much about African history. I also did not have a background in migration, and the information I had was filtered through a Western and often-conservative lens. As an Italian who is surrounded everyday by talk about migration, it was important for me to compare media and politicians’ rhetoric with the reality on the ground. This experience helped me dispel all the stereotypes I was brought up with, and I have been active in sharing my experiences with people in Italy and the US.

Students had the chance to travel during the weekend. Giovanna at the Wli Falls, the highest waterfall in West Africa

MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

International Relations Undergraduate Program

  • For more about the Fast Track BA/MA program, contact the Director of Admissions, Christine Omolino,  at comolino@syr.edu

Survey of Current Issues in African Migration Program, Ghana

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Sarah Buell, How DOD Does International Cooperation

Sarah Buell came into the MAIR degree as a Fast Track student directly from Maxwell’s BA International Relations program.

This summer, I had the opportunity to intern for the Department of Defense, in the Office of the Undersecretary for Acquisition and Sustainment, in the International Cooperation Directorate. Essentially, International Cooperation (IC) works to form long-term armaments and military partnerships with our allies and friendly countries. It creates agreements with these countries on weapons and communications systems, vehicles, aircraft and other technologies. It is almost like the diplomatic component of acquisition at the Pentagon.

I gained a lot of experience with prepping our Undersecretary and our International Cooperation director with preparing to engage with an international counterpart. On one occasion, I was able to write all of the briefing materials for a meeting the IC director had with an ambassador. I then got to attend the meeting and watch the director use the talking points that I had come up with. It was extremely satisfying to see that the work I had done could actually be used.

Sarah Buell at the Pentagon

Interestingly enough, this internship taught me about a lot of coordination, and showed me that I had more backbone than I thought I did. Among other things, I was put in charge of handling reservations for a trip that the Undersecretary was supposed to take. When the trip got cancelled, I was then in charge of cancelling all of them. When a cancellation did not go through, I spent a long time on the phone calmly with the hotel explaining why we should not be charged. I got a partial refund. Everyone in my office said that they were impressed that I was able to assert myself like that. It gave me the confidence I needed to be able to handle more difficult tasks in the future.

This internship introduced me to how the Department of Defense interacts with our allies. I learned that diplomacy and long-standing relationships are important, even for our defense interests. I also learned how to assert myself in an effective manner. In short, I learned policy and practical skills while increasing confidence in my professional self.

Sarah Buell at the Pentagon Visitor’s Center while assisting with escorting around the building

MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

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  • For more about the Fast Track BA/MA program, contact the Director of Admissions, Christine Omolino,  at comolino@syr.edu

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Ben Silverstein Reaches the Pinnacle at JIU in Geneva

Ben Silverstein is a MAIR student in the Governance, Diplomacy, & International Organizations career track. He has continued his internship at the Joint Inspection Unit of the United Nations Systems during the Fall Semester.

The Graduate Internships in Geneva program has been the crown jewel of my Maxwell experience. As engaging as the curriculum is on campus during the fall semester, it is impossible to compare classroom lessons with experiences in the workplace. My internship at the Joint Inspection Unit of the United Nations System has been an eye-opening experience that has offered me the opportunity to learn first-hand about the management and administrative challenges UN system organizations face. This internship experience has put all the principles and theories brought up by Maxwell professors into perspective.

The UN is a massive organization, and the JIU touches (or has the ability to touch) nearly every aspect. As the only independent external oversight body in the UN system, the JIU is mandated to conduct evaluations, inspections and investigations that help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of UN system organizations as they strive to achieve their mission objectives. My work at the JIU has ranged from exploring the budgetary requirements and policies of the operational arm of the UN to exploring how the UN is aiming to eradicate HIV/AIDS. While the JIU’s work often goes unheralded by those outside the UN, working here has not only allowed me to develop a thorough understanding about how the world’s largest bureaucracy functions, but also supported my critical thinking, analysis, and drafting skills. I am halfway through my internship and am very excited to see what new lessons the next three months have in store.

As a first-time expat, Geneva has been a great host for the past few months. As a small but very cosmopolitan city, there are always rich cultural events that open up conversations about international cultures, customs, and perspectives. Geneva is a perfect mix of the New York City’s, Washington DC’s policy savvy, and Upstate New York’s beautiful scenery. The Swiss Alps are always a welcome respite for the office-weary intern.

Interning at the JIU in Geneva and getting a taste of international management practices at the United Nations has been the pinnacle of my time at Maxwell. It is an invaluable opportunity to build on the lessons taught in Maxwell and Eggers, and to reach out across cultures and areas of thematic expertise to become a consummate professional in the international arena.

Benjamin Silverstein at Ben Silverstein at Klewenalp above Lac Lucerne in Nidwalden, Switzerland

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Amery Sanders, LGBTI Rights at European Parliament

Amery Sanders is a MAIR student focusing on human rights.

From May 25th through July 14th, I lived and worked in Brussels as part of Syracuse University’s Public Diplomacy program.  While not a Public Diplomacy student myself—I’m a graduate student pursuing the MA International Relations (MAIR) degree—I chose the Brussels program for its abundance of opportunities in my interest areas of human rights, diplomacy, and international NGO work.  I was incredibly fortunate enough to secure an internship at the Brussels seat of the European Parliament, one of the three core legislative institutions of the European Union.  I served as a trainee in the office of dynamic Finnish MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen.

Amery Sanders’ last day at work, below the third-floor bridge of the EU Parliament bearing the official institutional logo

I reached out to MEP Pietikäinen’s office because of her work in the leadership of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBTI Rights, a coordinated cross-party effort by MEPs to advance and support the rights of LGBTI people.  As a queer graduate student with a professional and academic focus in international transgender human rights, securing a place in her office meant I was able to work right at the heart of the European Union’s LGBTI-centric activities while also gaining in-depth understanding of EU institutional and legislative work.

During my seven weeks in Brussels, I split my time between doing administrative work for the MEP, working with Intergroup Secretariat Juliette Sanchez-Lambert, and doing research around the MEP’s special interest areas of queer freedom of movement, employment discrimination, partner and family rights, health care discrimination, and asylum rights.  I attended Parliament events around LGBTI issues and was privileged to be able to attend the 7th European Transgender Council, an annual conference hosted by TGEU, the largest transnational member organization of transgender activists in Europe.  Over the course of the internship I worked to develop a reference packet on individual LGBTI topics, to be used by MEPs and other officials as a resource guide in the lead up to the 2019 parliamentary elections.  Of especial significance to me personally, I was asked to give critical feedback on the Fundamental Rights Agency’s EU LGBT Survey; my critiques and suggestions were taken to a Vienna meeting to help determine the structure and content of the next version of the survey.

Materials from the 7th European Transgender Council, including their Strategic Plan, self-critical Anti-Activity Report, policy supporting sex workers, and guide for working with the United Nations

Brussels was a city both beautiful and politically complex, and I was deeply satisfied by my time there—by the work I was able to do, the connections I was able to make, and the knowledge I was able to gain.  I feel like I was able to get exactly the glimpse “behind the curtain” of transnational LGBTI-centric rights work that I have heretofore been unable to access.  It’s re-energized me in a way I could only have hoped for, and which I think will serve me well as I go forward in my academics and my career.

Exterior view of the European Parliament building in Brussels–or at least one small corner of it!

Public Diplomacy Internships in Brussels Program

Maxwell’s MAIR Degree