Tag Archives: Strasbourg

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.

MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

SU’s Strasbourg Center

All Global Programs

Ashleigh Bartlett, Pompidou Group of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg

Ashleigh Bartlett is a Atlantis Transatlantic Dual Degree student. She will complete a Master of Arts in International Relations from the Maxwell School and a Master of Public Policy from the Hertie School of Governance in Germany. Ashleigh is currently in her second year of studies in Berlin. She completed her internship as part of the Summer Internships in Strasbourg program.

Ashleigh Bartlett

This summer, I had the privilege to intern with the Pompidou Group at the Council of Europe for two months in Strasbourg, France, through the SU Abroad Strasbourg program.

The Pompidou Group was formed in 1971 and is the Council of Europe’s Co-operation Group to Combat Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking in Drugs. The core mission of the Pompidou Group is to contribute to the development of multidisciplinary, innovative, effective and evidence-based drug policies in its member states. It achieves this mission by linking policy, practice, and science in various areas, including drug supply and demand reduction, treatment, gender, incarceration, trafficking, and cybercrime. The Pompidou Group provides a forum for debate on these issues by hosting seminars and conferences, conducting research, providing training, and forming working groups with experts from member states and organizations. It is also an enlarged partial agreement within the Council of Europe, which means non-Council member states are able to join the Pompidou Group. Currently, there are 39 member states of the Pompidou Group, as well as the European Commission. Additional states are involved in specific activities of the Pompidou Group, such as the Mediterranean Network.

During my internship, I worked closely with two supervisors in the Pompidou Group Secretariat, the Principal Administrator of the Secretariat and the Head of Unit for Research, Mediterranean Cooperation, and Gender. My tasks were varied and depended upon the needs of the Group. Some of my work included conducting research and writing background documents on other organizations, drafting and editing presentations and publications, writing statements for the website, and compiling meeting reports.

Highlights of my internship include attending the Airports Group meeting on anti-trafficking efforts in European airports and attending a seminar on Women and Drugs in Rome, Italy. Both of these meetings allowed me to observe the work of the Pompidou Group in action, particularly in the areas of international cooperation and information-sharing. Though I was only an attendee for the Airports Group meeting, I was actively involved in the preparation and follow-up for the Rome seminar.

Through my tasks and in working with my supervisors and others in the Pompidou Group, I have a newfound appreciation for intergovernmental organizations and their difficult task of promoting international cooperation among states that may have competing interests and priorities. Given my own interests in international cooperation and security issues, it was especially interesting to see how the Pompidou Group promotes human rights in their work and within their member states, as well as how human rights are implemented in various security and health policies.

Living in Strasbourg, France for the summer was fantastic. Through the SU Abroad program, I was placed with a host family, which was a great experience. The city is beautiful and I was able to explore the unique Alsace region of France, practicing French and enjoying the local culture. I took advantage of Strasbourg’s proximity to other countries several times and travelled to various cities in Germany and Italy. I look forward to applying what I have learned this summer to my future studies and career.

Council of Europe

Summer Internships in Strasbourg

SU Strasbourg