Christie Gingras is a joint MPA/MAIR student with one more semester of studies remaining. She is a Robertson Fellow and a former Peace Corps Volunteer in Mongolia.
This summer, I was fortunate enough to intern at United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) in Hawaii. Within PACOM, I interned for the Global Peacekeeping Operations Initiative, a State Department program implemented by Department of Defense. In support of the program, I conducted feasibility and trend analyses, wrote case studies, implemented a new monitoring system, and provided recommendations for a new course evaluation system. Additionally, I was able to attend the Association of Asia-Pacific Peace Operations Training Centers Conference in Sri Lanka as part of the GPOI team.
This internship was an incredible experience, but three aspects of the internship stood out as being particularly advantageous to my future career. First, I was able to observe civilian-military as well as interagency cooperation, both within the federal government and abroad. Learning how the military and DoD operates will be invaluable in a future career in post conflict reconstruction, where they will be involved in reconstruction efforts. Next, I was able to build on my ground-level experience in the Peace Corps and appreciate how, at the higher, operational level, programs are managed in support of the strategic policy for the region. Finally, I was able to spend time networking with other individuals at the combatant command who connected me with colleagues in Washington, D.C.; I plan on leveraging these connections in the fall as I begin my job search for after graduation.
While not working, I took advantage of living in Hawaii. I hiked and enjoyed the beaches. I learned fencing from one colleague and krav maga from another. All in all, I had an incredible time and will be dreaming of O’ahu during Syracuse’s long winter!
Carol Tojeiro is a joint MAIR/MAECN student who will complete a Master of Arts in International Relations and a Master of Arts in Economics. She will be completing an internship at the Organization of American States in Washington, DC this fall.
This summer, I had the opportunity to intern abroad with IOM, the UN Migration Agency, in Ghana. My decision to pursue an internship abroad was to gain practical field experience with an international organization in a development context. During my internship, I had the opportunity to work on migration and child trafficking related issues, and to travel to different regions of the country.
Following the first week of orientation, along with other SU interns, we travelled to the Brong Ahafo region where we interviewed migrants who returned from Libya, Spain, Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal, and Algeria. They shared with us the hardships they faced when travelling irregularly, which we later narrated in the iamamigrant.org Campaign. This campaign, spearheaded by IOM, aims to promote positive perceptions of migrants and to combat xenophobia. During the following weeks, we also interviewed potential migrants to learn about their own perceptions and we participated in the Safe Migration sensitization campaigns conducted by IOM and Ghana’s Immigration Service.
During the second half of the internship, we travelled to the Volta region to observe module rollouts and gather visibility materials of the Child Protection and Child Trafficking Prevention Campaign. This campaign, funded by UNICEF and implemented by IOM, educates community members on how to raise a child, about children’s rights, and on the importance of investing in their future. It also aims to reduce child trafficking in the region, given that children are often sold to fishermen when families find themselves in destitute situations.
Overall, it has been a rewarding experience which has provided me with essential skills to pursue a career in the humanitarian field. My most memorable experiences were visiting the Egyeikrom Refugee Camp, the slave castle in Cape Coast, interviewing returnees, and the traditional dances performed by the school children in several of the Volta communities.
Many MPA students have an international focus in their studies or pursue the joint MPA/MAIR degree. While the MPA degree is a one year intensive program, students do still have the opportunity to gain hands on experience working for international entities.
The MPA Workshop is a four week culminating experience, where students work on a team of three to six of their peers to complete a consulting project for a real world client. Clients range from local community organizations and municipal governments to international government agencies and non‑profit organizations. In 2017, seven of the twenty-one projects had a global focus. MPA project teams acted as consultants for the following clients and international projects.
Participants in the MPA Workshop were allowed to rank five projects from a list of twenty-eight. Projects with the least amount of student interest were dropped, then students were assigned to teams based off their project rankings. In 2017, 93% of students got to work on their first or second choice project. While not every student gets the exact project they desire, international projects are always available for MPA students wanting to take their degree global.
Suhyeon Lee is a recent MAIR graduate. Last summer, she had a great opportunity to intern with International Organization for Migration in Geneva as part of the Graduate Internships in Geneva program. Last fall, she also interned with United Nations Information Center in Washington D.C. as part of the Maxwell‑in‑Washington program.
There are a myriad number of people who move to new countries to alleviate suffering or live a better life that their home country cannot provide. However, they face many challenges such as continued poverty, discrimination and hostility from their host country. A country cannot be a perfect place where everyone gets along and everyone can get everything they want, but I believe that if we try to understand and embrace one another, we can make a better world.
During the summer, I had the opportunity to intern with the Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration unit, International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Geneva. Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) is an indispensable part of a comprehensive approach to migration management aiming at orderly and humane return and reintegration of migrants who are unable or unwilling to remain in host countries and wish to return voluntarily to their countries of origin.
My major duty in the AVRR unit was to assist in the development of reports and statistics on assisted voluntary return and reintegration and support the analysis of studies on AVRR by identifying relevant conclusions, good practices and gaps. As a part of the analysis of studies on AVRR, I researched microfinance as a tool to strengthen sustainable reintegration of returnees in countries of origin, focusing on opportunities and challenges. Also, I had an opportunity to design the website of the AVRR unit as a project of strengthening outreach to stakeholders, beneficiaries, and the public.
During the summer, I gained a better understanding of IOM’s work as an inter-governmental organization in the field of migration, and how the organization works with governmental, intergovernmental, and non-governmental partners to help ensure the orderly and humane management of migration. Finally, this internship allowed me to become acquainted with the development of programs and projects related to assisted voluntary return and reintegration.
Tim Stoutzenberger is a recent graduate of the ATLANTIS Transatlantic Degree Program, where he earned a MAIR from the Maxwell School in Syracuse, New York and a MPP from the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin.
Last Summer, I was fortunate to receive a field research grant from the Moynihan Institute. I spent thirty-five days working in the Balkan region, conducting site visits, interviews, and performing general research for the Global Black Spots Project. That experience helped me further formulate my thesis, which focuses on security and development trends in the Balkans during European Union accession.
With that in mind, in June I began a three month consulting contract with Caritas Switzerland at their Western Balkans Regional Coordination Office in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H). A bit of background…I got in touch with Caritas Switzerland by reaching out to Raymond Bach, director of the SU Strasbourg Center in Strasbourg, France. I knew Professor Bach had friends in the Balkan region, and sure enough the wonderful Maxwell network came through.
For the month of June I teleworked from The Hague, Netherlands while finishing classes at the International Institute of Social Studies. During the first few weeks of my contract, I collaborated via Skype wtih the Balkan Regional Delegate, gained a better understanding of current programs, and began developing the frameworks for upcoming projects.
I arrived in Sarajevo on July 1st during an interesting time for the B&H office and for Caritas Switerland’s regional activities in general (the organization is present in Kosovo, B&H, and Romania). 2011-16 projects were ending, the corporate strategy in Luzern was shifting away from unfettered humanitarian aid, and the local offices were beginning to draft their country programs for 2017-20 with the new strategy in mind.
At the B&H office I work with projects focused on regional food security, youth education and vocational training, income generation, market expansion, migration/refugees/human trafficking, and socio-economic rights for marginalized communities. Larger programs dealing with everything from resource sustainability to public health to conflict resolution are in play as well. I get to travel a good bit, meeting with partners in Tirana, Gorazde, and at our Kosovo office in Przren.
The Global Programs Award I received proved essential during these last few months, especially while I was getting set up in Sarajevo and working locally on my thesis. Additionally, Caritas Switzerland recently agreed to extend my contract which came as welcome news.
Phuong Ha is a recent alumni who graduated with a MAIR degree in December 2016. He wrote this post about his experience interning at CSIS during the 2016 Summer Semester. In the end, he interned at CSIS during his final Fall Semester as well. During both semesters he completed his MAIR degree by taking evening courses at the Maxwell-in-Washington campus located in the same building as CSIS.
For this summer, I am currently interning at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and working with the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI). The experience has been life changing thus far.
As a research intern, I contribute to the long-term research projects of not only AMTI, but the Southeast Asia program and Japan Chair as well. AMTI covers all Asia maritime disputes ranging from the Indian Ocean to the Sea of Okhotsk. Although, we heavily focus on the South China Sea and East China Sea issues given their rising tensions, and simultaneously pay attention to other “subtle” disputes such as the Kuril Islands/Northern Territories dispute between Russia and Japan.
In greater detail, we monitor the evolvement of these disputes by scouring media for news and tracking government statements either via news reporting agencies or foreign affairs websites. One would be surprised with how many government and foreign affairs’ web pages do not work or contain severely outdated content. Another interesting component of my internship involves analyzing satellite imagery of contested maritime features in the South China Sea. By checking Digital Globe daily and comparing newly released imagery to older versions, we strive to identify the development and status of those features, which can help with the Initiative’s analysis. Other duties include updating social media outlets, staging information of mapping tools on the website, and providing general administrative support at AMTI, Japan Chair, and Southeast Asia’s events.
As one of the most prominent think tanks in the world, CSIS is far from being an unwelcoming place for staff, interns, or guests. I have had incredible opportunities to interact with both resident and non-residents and visiting fellows from all over the world within my Asia department. Likewise, other staff members from different programs and departments are quite friendly and approachable. More importantly, everyone at CSIS is highly professional when it comes to international affairs. Even though I have less chance to directly interact with senior fellows or advisers simply due to their busy schedules and inherent variations of each program, I have always felt acknowledged and appreciated whenever I can afford such an opportunity.
This experience has indeed been a dream came true. I truly appreciate my opportunity to intern for such a great security think tank, where I have been exposed and observed the process of world class foreign policy engagement and research.
Sarah Baumunk is a joint MPA/MAIR student who also interned at the U.S. Department of State’s Western Hemisphere Affairs Bureau, Office of Policy Planning in Washington, DC. She also took evening courses as part of the Maxwell-in-Washington program.
I sit on the phone on hold while trying to help an Eritrean asylee file a claim with his insurance company after a recent car wreck, when a Haitian immigrant—who only speaks French—comes to ask for help with applying for jobs. In the living room outside the office I can hear a crew of Cubans and Mexicans cheering on a soccer match together. I walk out of the office to see that a generous community member has left two giant bags of donations that need to be sifted through, but before I can get a start I’m intercepted by a group of West Africans who remind me we’re still out of vegetable oil to cook with. Once I get the extra oil and bring it into the kitchen, I’m waved down by about a dozen Ethiopians and Eritreans insisting that I come eat with them. They treat me to one of their specialties—lentils in a tomato sauces on top of injera (a typical East African spongy bread)—and we practice their English. With a full stomach, I shoo everyone off to their respective rooms just in time to make the 11 o’clock lights-out, and retreat to the office where I pull out the futon that I will sleep on that night. All in a typical day’s work while interning with Casa Marianella this summer.
Casa Marianella is a homeless shelter that provides hospitality and support for immigrants and refugees in Austin, Texas. While the nonprofit organization was originally founded 30 years ago to assist primarily Central American and Mexican immigrants, it has since evolved to encompass a much wider variety of noncitizens, with the majority coming from Eritrea, Ethiopia, and French-speaking West African countries. Casa has 38 beds to offer (although it frequently is home to many more) to residents who are either immigrants who can no longer work due to medical problems or asylees who arrive in the US and have no friends or family in our country. Residents stay for three to six months on average, while they receive legal help from pro bono lawyers and case management from staff members like myself.
Working at Casa Marianella this summer was a life-changing experience that brought practical experience to my studies, allowed me to sharpen my soft skills, and showed me what a compassion-driven organization looks like.
Over the past year, I have studied immigration policy and law through a number of Maxwell and law school courses. Given this background, I entered my position in Casa Marianella with a broad understanding of immigration in the US, but was surprised by how much I had to learn about the ground-level experience of immigrants today. From the job search for non-English speakers, to the tedious paperwork, to the hour-long drives every six months to check in with the government, working at Casa gave me valuable insight into the way our immigration laws and policies play out day-to-day.
My time at Casa was additionally an excellent practice in honing those soft skills that are so difficult to learn while sitting in a classroom. In a lot of ways, working at Casa was very similar to being a summer camp counselor. The job involved almost constant multitasking, and I quickly had to develop the ability to gently let people know they would have to wait while a more pressing issue was solved. I learned how to use a combination of enthusiasm and tough love to push our residents to do challenging things like find work, apply for an apartment, or meet with a lawyer. I saw how establishing a relationship of mutual respect and caring was essential to maintaining fruitful relationships with each resident.
Finally, Casa opened my eyes to the value of prioritizing compassion and hospitality as an organization and personally. One of the most surprising things about Casa was how willing every staff member was to go the extra mile for each person that walked through Casa’s door or called on the phone. The Executive Director Jennifer Long always described the goal of Casa as doing the most good for the most people—regardless if they are our residents or not. This attitude toward life and public service is particularly poignant in our global political climate today. As we see so much negativity being hurled at people that are different than us, Casa stands as a reminder that our world is seriously lacking in compassion—and for some groups more than others. This summer I was shown that the practice of unfettered compassion can be the most effective tool to encouraging others to become their best selves.
Mikhail Strokan is a MAIR student considering pursuing a PhD.
This summer, I interned in the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), based in Washington, DC. CSIS is one of the world’s leading think-tanks, dedicated to providing strategic insights and policy solutions to help decision‑makers chart a course “toward a better world.” Established over 50 years ago, the Center for Strategic and International Studies is a bipartisan, nonprofit policy research organization. CSIS’s audience encompasses people of all professions with an interest in foreign policy, international relations, military issues, world and regional cultures, etc. In particular, the Russia and Eurasia program (REP) targets two broader audiences: English-speakers and Russian-speakers.
These three months of working at CSIS gave me important insight into how global think‑tanks are structured and run. I was able to meet and work with America’s leading experts in the fields of Russian and Eurasian studies, nuclear proliferation, nationalism, etc. Just as importantly, I met brilliant fellow interns representing other U.S. universities. They contributed to a very friendly and helpful environment, which helped me to survive the hectic and busy schedule of a research intern. They served as an amazing example of how people may be passionate about the work they are doing, and by the end of three intense months working together, we became good friends.
Besides work, I was able to participate in many outdoor events including celebrating my first Independence Day in the U.S.A. I was so lucky to have been in D.C. for this holiday! Due to heavy rain on that day, the National Mall was much less crowded than it usually is during such events. I had a front-row seat to the nation’s most impressive fireworks show.
The summer Maxwell course with Michael O’Hanlon, a very engaging professor and an expert at the Brookings Institution, enabled me to dive deeper into broader geostrategic issues while discussing the ultimate question of who will eventually come to rule this century. Even though combining classwork and internship-related work was difficult, thanks to the Maxwell‑CSIS partnership, I was able to attend the course in the same building in which I worked without spending an inordinate amount of time on commuting across the city.
More recently, during Chris Damon-Cronmiller’s Fall Semester, he volunteered at the United States International Council on Disabilities while taking part in the Maxwell-in-Washington program.
This past summer was, for lack of a better word, quite a whirlwind for me. I am glad to say that I got an awful lot out of the experience, and furthermore I could not have done it were it not for the help and support of this year’s Global Programs Award.
At the beginning of the year, my original plan was to pursue an internship with the International Disability Alliance (IDA) and their main office in Geneva, Switzerland. While I was eventually offered an internship, unforeseen circumstances unfortunately resulted in me having to decline their offer. Nonetheless, I went ahead with my original plan to partake in this year’s Graduate Internships in Geneva program (at the recommendation of PAIA) knowing that I would be able to have an enriching opportunity there.
While in Geneva, I had the tremendous honor of working under Werner Schleiffer, a 30 plus year veteran of the UN, now as Maxwell’s primary liaison in Geneva. After a week or so in the area, he was kind enough to offer me a research assignment on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The assignment entailed the following:
Finding and consolidating general arguments for and against the SDGs, from voices of both the Global North and the Global South (so long as the voices seemed to be from reputable sources, of course).
Figuring out and detailing the pros and cons of a select few SDGs which were either of interest to me, of which the most information existed in the world, or both.
Finally, (using the information and work gathered for the previous two responsibilities as a basis) developed a rudimentary guideline for practical implementation of said goals.
By the end of my assignment, I gained a lot of practical information concerning the SDGs (along with their predecessors, the Millennium Development Goals) that was previously unknown to me and enriched my MAIR and MPA studies on campus. Additionally, I gained new insight into the connections between them and disability rights, for real application to both the second half of my Maxwell career and for my life after graduate school (whatever that may be). The latter was particularly important to me as someone already deeply interested in international affairs due to extensive experience abroad, and with several years of disability and neurodiversity rights advocacy under my belt within the U.S. There was, all in all, more connection between these goals and disability rights than I could have ever imagined.
Living between the France-Switzerland border, touring the Swiss countryside (courtesy of Werner) and spending time in Geneva (the “world’s center for human rights and development”, as Werner put it) wasn’t exactly bad either. Despite my short time there I nonetheless created some memories that I doubt I will soon forget (and I am sure the same can be said for everyone else who participated in the practicum.
Needless to say that I have no regrets about how the summer turned out, and am greatly looking forward to the next great big adventure during the fall.
Ivan Zhivkov also interned at the U.S. Department of State in the European Affairs office as part of the Maxwell-in-Washington program.
My name is Ivan G. Zhivkov and I am a Master of Arts in International Relations student, focusing on security and diplomacy pertaining to Eastern Europe. Having spent the initial two semesters on campus, partaking in the core MAIR and some fascinating elective courses, I decided to spend my summer 2016 studying abroad. I chose the Graduate Internships in Geneva program, due to the unique opportunity that it offers to intern with an international organization at the heart of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Upon multiple interviews, I was selected by Werner Schleiffer to be a part of the program and placed to intern with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
Working in WMO was intensive, educational, and extremely rewarding. I was placed in the Climate and Water Department, serving as an Intern with the Agricultural Meteorology Division. I was in charge of working on Drought Management, National Capacity, and improving the Integrated Drought Management Programme (IDMP) for Central and Eastern Europe, the Horn of Africa, and West Africa. I had two supervisors, the Director of Agricultural Meteorology, who assigned me to work on drought and flood management, and the Senior Program Officer for the IDMP. I was in charge of researching, assessing, and reporting on National Drought Programs (since only 18 UN Member States have so far implemented them), Intended Nationally Determined Contributions and how they relate to a country’s effort to reduce its Greenhouse Gas emissions, and the indicators of the Sustainable Development Goals.
My responsibilities were wide and diverse. I had the opportunity to attend branch, council, and town hall meetings, learning how WMO functions and where it needs to improve. The statistics bureau of the International Labour Organization was hosted on the third floor of the WMO building, allowing me an easier access to another organization and learning from its work. Working with WMO was an invaluable experience for me. Although it did not directly relate to my focus of studies, some of the skills that I acquired at Maxwell allowed me to thrive in WMO.
Living and working in Geneva opened my eyes to the function of international organizations, their relationship with the local community, and to experience life in Switzerland. Rich and diverse experiences characterized my time in Geneva. I was the only American from a group of roughly twenty interns in WMO, which allowed me to learn from their cultures, share common experiences, and practice foreign languages. Interacting with locals allowed me to make friends and improve my French. Overall, the Geneva Summer Practicum was invaluable to my education, to my development as a future international relations professional, and to my improvement as a world citizen. I would recommend it to anyone and I would not trade it for the world.