Tag Archives: Summer

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

International Relations Undergraduate Program

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

Maxwell-in-Washington Program

All Global Programs

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

MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

Graduate Internships in Geneva Program

All Global Programs

In Ghana, Lindzzi Ngati Understands to be Effective You Have to be Evolving

Lindzzi Ngati is a joint MPA/MAIR student focusing on international development.

This summer, I had the opportunity to intern with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Accra, Ghana through Syracuse Abroad. The IOM is the leading international agency in the field of migration, spearheading programs on brain drain and diaspora engagement, refugee resettlement, counter-trafficking, voluntary return and reintegration, migration health, labor migration, and border management. The organization is committed to the principle that humane and orderly migration benefits migrants and society.

From left to right: Lindzzi Ngati in a locally made dress, and SU students Sunil C., Giovanna S., and Tran K. standing outside of the IOM Ghana office

During my internship I was tasked with two major group assignments in the Countertrafficking Unit and Migrant Assistance Unit. Other small assignments included: reporting about the Egyeikrom Refugee Camp, a presentation of the IOMs work to graduate students at the Centre for Migration Studies at the University of Ghana and created two info sheets about the SU/IOM student mobility program. In addition to these assignments, I had the opportunity to support the Migration and Development Project Manager during an African Union meeting and Ghanaian Migration National Stakeholder meeting.

Lindzzi Ngati during the African Union West/Central African regional meeting on regional migration

The Countertrafficking Unit tasked the group with collecting visibility material (pictures and videos) that could be used for fundraising. However, to protect the identity of the victims we could not capture their faces. In collecting the visibility material, we shadowed a social worker who was conducting the quarterly meetings with the victims, their families and teachers in the Volta region. At the end of the assignment, we produced 2 short videos and 15 profiles that highlight the achievements and needs of the victims. During this assignment I learned how to use iMovie and used the new skill to create my own personal short video that summarized my experience in Ghana for my final presentation to office staff.

For the second assignment, we conducted focus group discussions throughout various communities in the Greater Accra region. Once the focus group discussions were completed, we analyzed data and produced a report and infographic of our findings. Finally, we presented the report to the Migrant Assistance team. During the focus group discussion, we sensitized community members about the dangers of irregular migration. We also had the chance to have conversations with migrants returning from Libya and Niger. During this assignment I was able to share some of my negative experiences as a Black woman in the U.S. in order to sensitize community members about the social issues they may face in the Western world.

In addition to interning in Accra, I was able to explore other regions of Ghana. I visited Elmina Castle, Kakum National Park, and Fort Victoria in Central region, Fort Metal Cross and Busua in Western region, Mole National Park and Larabanga Mosque in the Northern region.

My time in Ghana has been a very rewarding experience which has provided me with new skills and a renewed mindset. During my last extensive international experience, I lived by the quote: “comfort and growth cannot coexist,” however, during this internship I lived by the quote: “to be effective you have to be evolving” – Daniel Tagoe, Focal Point during Volta trip. This quote is reflective of the lifestyle of an international development practitioner.

Lindzzi Ngati conducting a focus group discussion with members of the Kasoa, Greater Accra Region community members

MPA/MAIR Joint Degree Program at the Maxwell School

Survey of Current Issues in African Migration Program

All Global Programs

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

Maxwell Students Make a Difference in Nepal

Rachel Penner was searching for a summer internship in 2015, when a staff member recommended that she connect with Beau Miller, a 2010 MPA graduate and the Executive Director of a development NGO in Nepal known as Aythos.

Beau was excited to take Rachel on board with Aythos to work on post-earthquake recovery. Upon arrival in Nepal, Rachel was thrust into the earthquake recovery efforts using her specialty in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) to serve devastated villagers outside of Kathmandu.

Two Maxwell students, Jeffrey Pu and Trace Carlson, followed in Rachel’s footsteps and interned at Aythos in 2017. As an MPA student, Jeff first had to complete the MPA Workshop with a team of fellow students for the U.S. Department of Justice designing a human rights and human dignity course for foreign police. After wrapping this project up, Jeff hopped on a plane to Nepal. Upon arrival, Aythos put Jeff to work doing program evaluation for one of their projects by designing and distributing a survey to local villagers. After two months working for Aythos, Jeff found himself taking another long haul flight to Berlin, where he is currently finishing his MPP at the Hertie School of Governance as part of the Atlantis Transatlantic Dual Degree Program.

Jeffrey Pu in Nepal

Trace Carlson won a Foreign Languages and Area Studies Fellowship (FLAS) from the Moynihan Institute’s South Asia Center. With this fellowship, Trace journeyed to India to study Hindi, but was most interested in applying his academic knowledge to the field. After reaching out to Beau, Trace found himself heading to Nepal to conduct research on kiwi fruit agriculture for Aythos. Immediately, Trace found it very eye opening to compare the gap between research and field implementation. One had to be flexible and ready for anything. He once had to carry five kilograms of potatoes down a mountain for a village family, just because they asked him to.

Local Aythos staff receive feedback on kiwi fruit cultivation

On February 22, Beau, Rachel, Jeff, and Trace all came together on a Skype presentation for SU students interested in interning at Aythos. All agreed that it was one of the most fulfilling experiences of their lives and were completely humbled by the kindness and generosity of the people in Nepal. They fondly remembered backpacking into villages after encountering washed out roads—while dealing with leeches on the way—only to find countless cups of tea pushed on them upon arriving. While students spent about half their time in Kathmandu, they genuinely felt the impact of projects while working in the villages.

An Aythos staff member talks to a farmer. Women’s empowerment is a goal of the organization, since many Nepalese men go abroad to work leaving women to manage farms and businesses independently.

Maxwell’s partnership with Aythos fulfills the goal of professional degrees by creating graduates who are resilient and ready to enter a career upon graduation. According to Beau Miller, “If you can work in Nepal, you can work anywhere.”

Temple in Kathmandu

Maxwell’s MAIR Degree

Atlantis Transatlantic Dual Degree

Nepal Connections:

Trace Carlson Conducts Research in Hindi

Students Work with Nepalese Communities in Earthquake Recovery

Ashley Saulcy Works on Political Transition in Nepal – Part 1

Ashley Saulcy Works on Political Transition in Nepal – Part 2

Boudhanath Stupa, Kathmandu
Boudhanath Stupa, Kathmandu

Meghan Sullivan Interns at the World Food Programme in Geneva

Meghan Sullivan is a recent graduate who completed her Master of Arts in International Relations (MAIR) in August after participating in the Graduate Internships in Geneva program and interning at the UN World Food Programme. She now works for the World Food Programme in Geneva as the External Partnerships Officer.

 The Geneva Summer Practicum was one of the reasons I chose to attend the Maxwell School, and I am so glad that I did. The practicum gave me the opportunity to intern at the UN World Food Programme (WFP) for the summer, a dream come true that led to consultancy in the same office. When I was planning my degree, I organized my studies differently from most students, saving the practicum and internship for the end of my time with the Maxwell School so that I could use the internship as a launch pad for my career. After graduating, my internship was extended for an additional five months, allowing me to gain more experience within the UN while I looked for work. In December, an External Partnerships Officer position became available and was offered to me. My studies at Maxwell and the Geneva Summer Practicum both prepared me for and directly opened the doors for me to be offered this position.

Meghan Sullivan in the Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Chamber at the Palais des Nations.

In addition to the internship, the practicum included a class on international organizations and several trips throughout Switzerland. The class connected me with senior leaders in international organizations in Geneva and helped prepare me for my chosen career, while the trips helped me connect with my roots, exploring and learning about the country where my ancestors lived.

Some of the highlights of this experience have been attending the ECOSOC Humanitarian Affairs Segment at the UN Headquarters in Geneva with my colleagues from the World Food Programme, taking in the mountain views of Lake Lucerne, and exploring the Lavaux vineyards, a breathtaking UNESCO world heritage site. The most important highlight of course, has been getting hired at the World Food Programme and beginning the career I’d dreamed of at the United Nations.

Visiting the village near Geneva where my ancestors lived in the 1600s.

This has been an unforgettable experience and one that continues to change my life. It was the perfect end to my time with the Maxwell School, and I look forward to the next steps as I begin a career of international service, well prepared to carry out the Athenian Oath to “transmit this City (and, I would add, this World) not only, not less, but greater and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us.”

Graduate Internships in Geneva

Maxwell MAIR

Liad Roytfarb Works in Technology Accelerator at DoD

Liad Roytfarb is a current student in the Atlantis Program, a unique dual degree MAIR/MPP program with the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin. He participated in the Maxwell in Washington Program over the summer.

During the summer of 2017 I had the opportunity to intern in Washington DC at MD-5, also known as the National Security Technology Accelerator. MD-5 is an emerging Department of Defense program which attempts to promote Civil-Military industry innovation, and seeks ways to spur innovation across the department. The program focuses on three broad fields: Education, Collaboration and Acceleration. It is situated at the National Defense University, which enables it to tackle all three fields effectively. The goal of the program is to maintain and promote the role of the United States as a global leader in defense; the initiators believe that this can be achieved by building bridges between the technology and security sectors.

Liad Roytfarb

As an international student, I found the internship a unique and challenging experience. The main obstacle was familiarizing myself with jargon from different spheres, such as technology and military, a task that proved to be difficult. Moreover, it had to be done effectively and swiftly in order to contribute to the diverse set of tasks handed out on a daily basis. Luckily, my boss and mentor, Mr. Justin Dunnincliff, is a Maxwell alumnus, who assisted me in every aspect and helped integrate me into the team since day one. This enabled me to learn quickly and, I hope, to contribute to a wide range of tasks and ventures. It was an interesting experience for me, because I got a close look at the Defense departments’ efforts to achieve a set of its vast organizational goals. The ability to implement methods and ideas from my own country and past experience was very rewarding; altogether this was a huge lesson I will take with me.

I would recommend this internship for any graduate student interested in private-public partnerships, working relations in the US government and DOD programs in particular. The organization and the internship have a very clear ‘on the go’ nature, which should suit any candidate who likes fast paced and ever-changing tasks. I enjoyed learning from the deep knowledge and practical experience of all senior staff in the program, as its small size enables close knit working relations.  Since the program was launched just a year ago there is much place for growth and implementation of ideas by interns and staff alike. This constitutes a great opportunity for any Maxwell student in DC and, in my opinion, would be an unforgettable experience.

Liad Roytfarb Gains European Experience in Berlin

MAIR at Maxwell

Atlantis Program

Maxwell in Washington

James Sinkovic Applies Data Analysis to Education

James Sinkovic is a 2017 Master or Arts in International Relations (MAIR) graduate of the Maxwell School.

When I first learned about Room to Read through a group project in Professor Lux’s class – Managing NGOs in Developing Countries – I never thought I would be interning with them this summer. While I was interested in gaining and practicing data analysis skills, I didn’t think that it would be in an organization close to where I grew up and in a field that I am passionate about; international education.

Room to Read is an international education NGO focused on helping children gain a habit of reading through literacy training and helping girls complete a secondary education throughout Asia and Africa. I have spent the summer working in their San Francisco, CA office on the Research, Monitoring, & Evaluation team analyzing reading assessment data. Their emphasis on data-driven decision making has made this a rewarding opportunity. Projects have included research on the EGRA assessment tool, early grade dropout, and the relationship between fluency and comprehension; analysis on reading assessment data and tablet use in the data collection process; and report drafting and editing.

James Sinkovic at Room to Read.

While I learned an array of skills at Maxwell, this internship has enabled me to practice specific skills such as data analysis and visualization skills – as well as research skills – in a fun and cutting edge environment. In addition to the skill-building projects, I have been able to take time with several of the departments at Room to Read giving a rich and full exposure to NGO work life. The wide variety of projects and experience have really helped me to understand the type of work I would like to do and have further kindled my passion to empower others through education.

Without knowing it at the time I applied for the internship, this experience has been everything that I could hope for; great experience, great people, and an amazing organization.

MAIR at Maxwell

Transforming Conflict in Peru by Alexcia Chambers

Alexcia Chambers is a current Public Diplomacy student who will complete both a Master of Arts in International Relations and a Master of Science in Public Relations by the spring of 2018.

This summer, I had the opportunity to intern in Lima, Peru at ProDiálogo, a civil association that works in conflict resolution and transformation. Given Peru’s landscape, many of its social conflicts revolve around the extractive industries and their interactions with Peru’s government and indigenous communities. ProDiálogo describes conflict as a natural part of human relations—an expression of the disagreements between the interests and needs of those involved. As an intern at ProDiálogo, my job was to analyze the interests and needs of those involved in two separate cases: Las Bambas mine and the Saramuro/Saramurillo oil pipeline.

One of the community projects Alexcia facilitated with ProDiálogo. She is pictured in the bottom right.

Seeing as these are both long-term, ongoing conflicts, my first step was to wrap my head around what was happening in these two cases and why. As with all conflicts, dynamics change over time and different personalities play a major part in what gets done and how. Once I understood who the major players were and the role they played in each conflict, I set out to understand the current state of play. To do this, I engaged most with Peru’s ombudsman’s office—Peru’s public defender tasked with (1) protecting the constitutional rights and freedoms of individuals and the community, and (2) monitoring the performance of the state in carrying out its obligations to the people.

In my two months of developing contacts with the ombudsman’s office and interviewing local indigenous leaders, one lesson stood out: the importance of credible state institutions. In socio-environmental conflict, the interests of private industry, private citizens, and government inevitably intersect. In the two cases I analyzed, private citizens (indigenous communities) often feel that the state institutions built to protect their rights are instead more concerned with protecting the broader national economic agenda. In other words, the people see the government as the chief ally of extractive companies, and therefore an enemy of the people.

Alexcia Chambers.

My relationships and research in Peru allowed me to take broader insights like this one and hone in on the individual people, ministries, and offices involved. Systematically analyzing the needs and interests of government officials, community leaders, and company executives better equip impartial third party actors like ProDiálogo to help transform these conflicts into opportunities in the future.

Alexcia Chambers, Civil Support Planning at NORAD & USNORTHCOM

Public Diplomacy at Maxwell

Mary Johnson Practices Cultural Diplomacy in Brussels

Mary Johnson is a current Master in Public Diplomacy student at the Maxwell School. She participated in the Public Diplomacy Internships in Brussels Program.

This past summer, I interned in Brussels, Belgium with More Europe – external cultural relations and the Cultural Diplomacy Platform. These organizations are funded by the European Commission and supported by a consortium of European cultural institutions, namely the British Council, Institute Francais, The Center for Fine Arts (BOZAR) in Brussels, the European Cultural Foundation, European National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC) and the Goethe Institut – which housed the offices of the aforementioned organizations.

Most of my responsibilities early on involved social media management. I surveyed what platforms the organization had, how they were being used and created strategies and content to promote upcoming events, including the signature workshop of the Platform – the Global Cultural Leadership Programme (GCLP). Although I didn’t have the chance to travel with my team to actively participate in GCLP 2017 in Athens, Greece, I learned a lot about international cultural engagement and the depth of cultural workers concerning cultural diplomacy. All of the participants had different expertise, yet they were all working to improve the arts and culture within and outside of their home countries. It was also a chance for me to see program implementation that aligned with the goals outlined in the new EU strategy towards external cultural relations.

Later on in my experience, I researched issues in Turkey and met with policy experts at DG NEAR and DG EAC in preparation for More Europe’s cultural relations workshop later this year regarding EU-Turkey cultural relations. It was great learning more about the EU and different delegations while also learning about Turkey and its relationship with the EU. In addition to workshop planning, I also wrote a position advocacy paper on the importance of cultural diplomacy for both the EU and the US, highlighting strengths and areas of opportunity for both actors going forward.

Mary Johnson at More Europe.

Working with these organizations gave me hands-on experience in the cultural sector which allowed me to engage in cultural diplomacy – something I am extremely passionate about. I saw everything from arts funding initiatives to forming new partnerships and the role of governments in facilitating cultural relations endeavors. Prior to this, I knew I wanted to pursue cultural diplomacy long-term, but I wasn’t sure what that would flesh out as for a career. I left Brussels with a clear understanding of how the EU engages in cultural diplomacy and the variety of paths regarding cultural relations I can pursue.

Public Diplomacy Internships in Brussels

More Global Programs