Tag Archives: MAIR

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.

Sam Connors Gains Field Experience at IOM Ghana

Sam Connors is a MAIR student on track to graduate this semester. His interests are in Africa, migration, aid, and development, which is why he took part in the Survey of Current Issues In African Migration program during the summer of 2016.

Considering this was my first time traveling out of the United States, my summer spent in Ghana was unlike anything I have previously experienced. Interning with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) was not only an opportunity for me to test my professional ability in a new environment, but a chance to explore the dynamics of migration – the focus of my studies.

The IOM program in Ghana was an ideal fit for me due to my interest in migration but also considering my desire to gain field work experience with an IO. I was able to gain a comprehensive understanding of working as an expat in both the field and capital city of another country, splitting my time with a month in the field and a month in the IOM office in Accra. Another Maxwell student, Emily Hoerner, has captured our experience in Accra well in a previous PAIA blog entry, and I suggest learning of that portion from her entry.

My time spent in the field was working with IOM’s counter trafficking department in the Ho West district, 3 hours north of Accra. This time was without a doubt the most interesting and impacting facet of the program for me. Not only was I able to participate with the IOM on one of their projects, I was also given a stipend along with my fellow Syracuse students to design a small aid project of our own in the region.

The IOM counter trafficking project was targeted at preventing the selling and trafficking of children in the Volta region of Ghana. This effort took the five of us to five different rural communities in the surrounding area – though we resided in one community (Dodome Tsikor) for the month. Along with local government officials, we would introduce a program designed to educate these communities concerning the rights of a child and perils of trafficking. This introduction was ceremoniously celebrated with a painting by the whole community – the tree of life – as a symbol of the community’s commitment to protect their children.

Community volunteers, members, and Syracuse University students (starting 2nd from left): Sam Connors, Hatou Camara, Alison Rivera, Francis Morency, Jinpu Wang) in front of the tree of life community painting

Community volunteers, members, and Syracuse University students (starting 2nd from left): Sam Connors, Hatou Camara, Alison Rivera, Francis Morency, Jinpu Wang) in front of the tree of life community painting

It is not possible to fit the sheer volume of information and lessons I gathered during my time in Ghana in one blog post. It is not possible for me to quantify the personal and professional growth I experienced working for an IO in a foreign country. The most important professional lesson I gathered is the simple yet oft underappreciated lesson of –  communicate, communicate, communicate. The most lasting personal lesson I found reinforced in Ghana is of similar characteristics – live with love and understanding will follow.

Syracuse University students L-R: Jinpu Wang, Hatou Camara, Alison Rivera, Sam Connors, and Francis Morency in the field

Syracuse University students L-R: Jinpu Wang, Hatou Camara, Alison Rivera, Sam Connors, and Francis Morency in the field

The pouring of libations ceremony performed by a community Chief and elders

The pouring of libations ceremony performed by a community Chief and elders

The Chief of Dodome Tsikor and SU student Jinpu Wang

The Chief of Dodome Tsikor and SU student Jinpu Wang

Alison Rivera and Francis Morency

Alison Rivera and Francis Morency

Emily Hoerner, Sam Connors, Hatou Camara, Alison Rivera, Francis Morency, and Jinpu Wang at Elmina Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage

Emily Hoerner, Sam Connors, Hatou Camara, Alison Rivera, Francis Morency, and Jinpu Wang at Elmina Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage

Francis Morency, Hatou Camara, community volunteer, Alison Rivera, Sam Connors, & Jinpu Wang

Francis Morency, Hatou Camara, community volunteer, Alison Rivera, Sam Connors, & Jinpu Wang

Alison Rivera, Francis Morency and Sam Connors interview an IOM program beneficiary

Alison Rivera, Francis Morency and Sam Connors interview an IOM program beneficiary

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

More Global Programs

Maxwell African Scholars Union

Daniel Matthews Explores Global Competitiveness in US Production

Daniel Matthews took advantage of the Maxwell-in-Washington program during the Summer and Fall semesters, where he interned at the USITC during the day while taking Maxwell courses at night.

usict-logo

This summer, I was able to work at as Pathways Intern with the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) in Washington, D.C.  The USITC is an “independent, quasijudicial Federal agency” that investigates the impact subsidized and dumped imports have on the competitiveness of U.S. industries.  International Trade Analysts and Economists gather and analyze trade-related data and present this information to the President, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), and Congress so that each may be able to make informed decisions regarding trade policy.  The USITC receives investigation requests from USTR, the Senate’s Committee on Finance, the House of Representatives’ Committee on Ways and Means, and from various domestic industries.

I was hired on as an intern with the Office of Industries’ Natural Resources and Energy (NRE) division.  Earlier this year, the Committee on Ways and Means of the U.S. House of Representatives requested that the USITC conduct a 16 month investigation under section 332 of the Tariff Act of 1930 to obtain information on factors that affect the global competitiveness of the U.S. aluminum industry.  As the NRE division intern, I have been tasked with conducting extensive research on trade flows of various aluminum products identified under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) and North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), the production processes of various forms of aluminum, and other background information relevant to the investigation.  I will also have the opportunity to have my research published as part of the report, and will be coauthoring the first chapter with the project leader.  As part of the ongoing investigation, I will also be able to travel to industry facilities throughout Maryland and Virginia in order to observe the production of aluminum products used in the automotive, aerospace, and other downstream industries.

usitc-building

USITC Building, Washington, DC

Through this internship, I have been able to work directly with Trade Analysts and Economists on an increasingly important industry in the United States.  Aluminum’s qualities, including its lighter weight relative to steel, resistance to corrosion, malleability, and ductility are increasingly sought in the automotive, aerospace, construction, and energy industries.  This position has complemented research and coursework that I have undertaken at Maxwell, and has allowed me to apply many of the analytical, research, and writing skills that I have developed as an MAIR student in a professional setting.

Daniel Matthews at the USITC

Daniel Matthews at the USITC

Learn more about the Maxwell-in-Washington program

Corena Sharp, Advocacy & Innovative Partnerships at UNICEF

Corena Sharp is a MAIR student currently interning at the United States Department of State’s Office of International Labor Affairs in Washington, DC. She interned at UNICEF as part of the Graduate Internships in Geneva program.

This summer I traveled to Geneva, Switzerland for an internship with UNICEF. While the headquarters of UNICEF lives in New York, nestled next to Lac Leman and a botanical garden is UNICEF’s Private Fundraising and Partnerships Division. Within the Division, I am a part of the Advocacy and Innovative Partnerships Unit.

What This Means

UNICEF has three main parts: Headquarters, Country Offices, and National Committees. National Committees are their own NGOs who are affiliated with—but not technically under the UNICEF administrative umbrella in rich countries—as compared with Country Offices that are direct extensions of UNICEF in developing countries. In practical terms, this means that National Committees cannot run any programming and must get permission to use UNICEF branding. The existence of National Committees is based in the agreement that UNICEF’s true focus needs to be where children are most vulnerable, yet recognizes that rich countries are by no means perfect advocates for the rights of children. The 34 National Committees fundraise and run political advocacy campaigns to help improve the situation of children domestically and abroad.

This is where my team comes in. We help coordinate between the National Committees and Headquarters and give support in a variety of ways. I participated in two Working Groups on Humanitarian Emergency Advocacy and the SDGs. I helped National Committees strategize and learn from each other, by creating documents of best practices and drafting content for UNICEF’s intranet.

One of my primary projects was to design a 125-page interactive document that maps the Convention on the Rights of the Child with the Sustainable Development Goals. It capitalizes on the momentum of the SDGs by exploring the inextricable links between the rights of children and each goal. When I completed the document, I helped develop the dissemination materials. The document will be circulated across the organization as well as to external partners, such as the Committee on the Rights of the Child.

I was also given the freedom to explore human rights outside of the office. While the 32nd Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council met, I was encouraged to go and attend meetings. My two favorite days were watching the council vote to appoint an Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; and attending a panel on ‘Violence against indigenous women and girls and its root causes.’

This was truly an amazing experience that will carry close to my heart as I continue to work for the empowerment of women and girls everywhere.

Corena Sharp in the village of Gruyere, Switzerland in June

Corena Sharp in the village of Gruyere, Switzerland in June

Learn more about the Graduate Internships in Geneva Program

More Global Programs

James Murray Does Impactful Work at UNDP

James Murray is a MAIR student who obtained his internship at UNDP with the help of Emily Fredenberg, a former participant in the Graduate Internships in Geneva program. He wrote this post in August 2016.

For the past three months, I’ve been living in Geneva, Switzerland while working for the United Nations Development Programme as an intern. In less than two weeks time, I’ll be heading back to Syracuse to complete my last semester as a graduate student. The experience I’ve had this summer has provided me with working knowledge of how the international humanitarian and development systems function, and provided me with the opportunity to develop and sharpen the tools necessary to be an effective contributor in such an environment. Also, living in Geneva, a city with incredible natural beauty and wonderful history, has been a dream come true.

Before I started my work with UNDP this summer, I was slightly apprehensive that I would be given limited job responsibilities and relegated to a position with little ability to make a meaningful contribution to the organization. This assumption turned out to be completely incorrect. My two supervisors at UNDP gave me the structure necessary to ensure that my work would be impactful, while granting me the freedom to take on assignments that were of particular interest. My work was primarily focused in the health sector, specifically on reducing the global burden of non-communicable diseases, and working with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.

The sheer scope of this work allowed me a wide range of options when considering possible project opportunities. In my time with UNDP, I feel that my work made a positive impact while also further developing my abilities.

While the internship with UNDP may have been the most rewarding experience of the summer, living in the beautiful city of Geneva has enriched my day-to-day life for several reasons. First, while Geneva is quite a small city, there is always a festival or celebration going on each weekend. For example, this past weekend was the Fete de Genève, which was celebrated by great music, delicious food, and the best fireworks display I’ve ever seen. It lasted nearly an hour! Second, there is a tangible and exciting sense of international community that can be felt throughout the city. While being one of the most international cities in the world, it is only slightly larger than Syracuse. Lastly, Geneva has more natural beauty than any place I’ve ever lived. I consider myself an avid outdoor enthusiast, and I’ve been able to find a great hike with extraordinary views each and every weekend.

This summer has been a great opportunity for personal growth, while also being exciting and fun.

James Murray in Geneva, Switzerland

James Murray in Geneva, Switzerland

Learn more about the Graduate Internships in Geneva Program

More Global Programs

Joshua Klein Contributes to ASEAN Business Outlook at AmCham Singapore

Joshua Klein graduated from the MAIR program with a focus on East Asia. He participated in the Singapore Summer Practicum during the summer of 2015 and took advantage of the SU Beijing Center where he took courses at Tsinghua University during the fall of 2015.

Annual ASEAN Business Outlook Survey

Annual ASEAN Business Outlook Survey

This summer, I accepted an internship at the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore. I worked for three months as a “Government Relations Intern,” for the Public Affairs and Government Relations team.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore (AmCham) is the leading international business association in Singapore, with over 5,000 members representing 750 companies. American companies’ direct investment in Singapore exceeds and estimated US $180 billion.

The Government Affairs team represents member companies at the highest level of government in Singapore and Washington D.C. AmCham played a significant role in the development of the U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreement and meets regularly with senior members of the Singapore Government to represent the interests of member corporations. In addition, the American Chamber of Commerce presents weekly lectures that continue to educate member companies about new business developments occurring in Singapore and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations).

As a Government Relations intern, my main task was to draft and analyze data for AmCham’s annual publication, the ASEAN Business Outlook Survey (ABOS). This publication shares the insights of senior American business leaders across the ASEAN region. These respondents are charged with making investment decisions on behalf of their companies, offering a unique opportunity to shape the character of development across ASEAN.

My supervisor was very helpful in assisting in the meeting of member company executives and providing me with opportunities to attend many of the events AmCham hosts. Through these opportunities, I was able to network and expand my contact base in Southeast Asia. In addition, I was able to interact with other staff members in the office who were all great and welcoming. They taught me everything from scratch, always answered my questions in detail, and shared their career stories and working experiences generously.

I really appreciate this internship experience. It exposed the American business sentiment in ASEAN while providing me with the freedom to contribute to the annual ASEAN Business Outlook Survey publication.

Students interested in an internship at the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore should contact Gary LaPoint at gelapoin@syr.edu. He is a Professor of Supply Chain Practice in the Whitman School of Management and Head of the Singapore Summer Practicum. AmCham Singapore is interested in Maxwell interns annually.

Joshua Klein in front of AmCham Singapore logo

Maxwell students Joshua Klein and Gabriela Luciano at AmCham Singapore

Read the ASEAN Business Outlook Survey 2016>>

Rachel Coolican,”There was much for me to learn about OSD Policy and the inner workings of the Pentagon.”

Ms. Rachel Coolican is a recent graduate of the MAIR program, and spent her last fall semester interning with the European & NATO Policy Office of the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.

Pantagon Intern name plate of Rachel Coolican

Pentagon name plate

During the Fall 2015 semester, I had the honor and privilege of interning with OSD EUR/NATO Policy at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. Within the office, I worked specifically with “Team North-West Europe” and directly supported the Desk Officers of the Nordic Portfolio covering Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Denmark.

As a subset of the International Security Affairs division within OSD Policy, Europe and NATO Policy assists the ISA’s Assistant Secretary of Defense (Ms. Elissa Slotkin) in her mission to manage defense relations with all foreign governments and international organizations within the office’s jurisdiction. This includes developing and maintaining: regional security and defense strategies, subsequent functional policies, foreign military sales, education and training, and comprehensive relationships with multilateral, regional, and bilateral partners.

As I mentioned, throughout my time in EUR/NATO, I assisted with all duties performed by desk officers on the North and West Europe team to develop strategies and policies with our Nordic Allies. This included: organizing and supporting meetings between senior Department of Defense (DoD) and European officials; planning and implementing an annual bilateral studies group meeting that set the coming year’s goals for advancing security; routinely interacting with relevant embassy counterparts in Washington and abroad; providing policy analysis to senior DoD officials regarding current events; constructing various written preparatory deliverables to senior leadership; attending inter-agency meetings and crafting after-action reports; and providing any requested support to the ASD of ISA, the USD for Policy, and Secretary Carter himself.

There was much for me to learn about OSD Policy and the inner workings of the Pentagon. This internship was great because I was able to work with passionate and trusting teammates and supervisors, who allowed me to do substantial work for senior leadership in order to get the full experience of being a desk officer.  My favorite part of the internship was being able to attend a myriad of meetings that focused on current events (one being with Deputy Secretary of Defense, Bob Work!) and building strong personal relationships with foreign embassy counterparts. These things allowed me to become more knowledgeable in U.S. strategic planning, and how the DoD works with partners to advance U.S. goals at the betterment of our partners. This will be a professional experience that I will never forget, and I now have a network of colleagues and friends who I know I will be in touch with for years to come!

Rachel Coolican(Maxwell MAIR Student Headshots 2014)

Rachel Coolican

Pentagon

The Pentagon with Washington, DC in the background.

Learn more about the Maxwell-in-Washington program

Small Staff, Tight Budget-Challenges Carla Nodi Faced at UN Women in Chile

As an International Relations student focusing on women’s rights, I had the privilege of working with UN Women during my semester in Santiago, Chile. Chilean President Michelle Bachelet was actually the inaugural director of the organization in 2011, which makes the shared office space, small staff of four women, and equally small budget primarily sourced from the European Union an interesting challenge.

As an intern, I was responsible for facilitating internal operations through research, document drafting, and excel database development. I supported project implementation through inter-agency collaboration, communication with community stake-holders, and management of event logistics. I was able to participate in international campaigns such as the UNiTE campaign against gendered violence and the HeForShe campaign promoting an inclusive approach to gender equality; as well as domestic projects focusing on increased female political participation and leadership; street harassment; and closing the gendered wage gap in Chile.

In our world, 1 in every 3 women globally experiences physical or sexual violence. Millions of girls are being denied the opportunity to study, and two thirds of the illiterate population is made up of girls. Women struggle to enter the workforce, to be taken seriously, to rise to positions of leadership, and a significant wage gap leaves women more vulnerable to poverty. Only 22% of national parliaments are comprised of women, with only 11 serving as heads of state and 13 as heads of government. Women are disproportionately affected by health issues related to poverty, malnutrition, HIV/AIDS, domestic violence, war, and lack of reproductive rights.

Organizations such as United Nations Women become ever more critical in the global fight for equal access to education and quality health care; the right to equal wages and the ability to actively participate, serve, and lead in our political systems; the right to live without fear of violence and harassment. I am incredibly grateful for the perspective I have gained during this semester and I hope to see both the financial resources and program capacity of this young organization grow as the world begins to recognize the need to prioritize women’s rights for the benefit of society.

Carla Nodi (far right) holding up a UN women Sign in Santiago

Carla Nodi (far right) holding up a UN Women Sign in Santiago

 

 

Networking with Alumni in D.C. and New York

Over the course of Spring break, Maxwell students had the great opportunity to visit various sites and attend coffee chats with alumni. They connected with people who worked at various organizations in Washington, DC and New York and learned a lot about opportunities in different fields. There is no doubt that this unique opportunity helped Maxwell students to  consolidate their careers.

Networking with Alumni in D.C. and New York

Maxwell alumnus David Bauer ’49 and the students he hosted on Roosevelt Island

Maxwell alumnus David Bauer ’49 and the students he hosted on Roosevelt Island

Excerpt:

Over the course of our spring break, approximately 60 members of our cohort traveled to Washington, D.C. and New York City to network and connect with Maxwell alumni who work in various professions in the public, private, and nonprofit fields.

The busy week’s networking festivities kicked off at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), an internationally-focused think tank in D.C. that the Maxwell School has a unique partnership with. Throughout the D.C. leg of the trip, current students had the opportunity to attend site visits and coffee chats with a variety of organizations that had a Maxwell connection. The Office of Personnel Management, the Brookings Institute, the Congressional Budget Office, the Department of Energy, the World Bank, and Booz Allen Hamilton are a just few names of the many site visits our cohort attended. A group of MPA students attended the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a think tank that considers the needs of low-income and disadvantaged individuals and families. The most valuable trip for me was visiting the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor, given its relevance to my interests in higher education and labor. After this visit, I was able to connect with a 2010 alumnus about a graduate summer fellowship opportunity starting in July. He even offered to connect me with the Fellow Coordinator and offered a recommendation.[…]

This article is published on the PAIA Insider blog.

Read the full article on the class’ activities>>

Students at the D.C. Public Schools site visit

Students at the D.C. Public Schools site visit

IMG_4030-768x576

MAIR students outside the Brookings Institution (Claudine Lim, Phoung Ha and Vahid Khatami from left to right)

MPA/MAIR student Vahid Khatami connecting with Maxwell staff

MPA/MAIR student Vahid Khatami (right) connecting with Maxwell staff Isaac Olson (center) and Dr. Ryan Williams (left)

Learn more about the Maxwell-in-Washington program