Tag Archives: United Nations

Aaron Mwewa Learns the Importance of Passion at UNICEF

Aaron Mwewa is a 2018 graduate of the Maxwell School and the Newhouse School, where he earned joint MAIR/MSPR degrees. This past fall he extended his 2017 summer internship at UNICEF in New York City. 

“Aaron, you can only do something exceptionally well if you are passionate about it. If you are passionate about something, there is no Monday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday because that is all you want to do. When you are consumed by the desire for quality output, the ‘9 to 5 pm just to get the salary work mindset’ is lost.”

Aaron at UNICEF.

These where the words, which were told to me by Kerida Mcdonald, Senior Communications for Development Specialist at the United Nations Children’s Fund on the first day of my internship in her office. Those words struck the right chord with me as I am a passionate supporter of children’s rights.

True to the words of my supervisor, we could email each other back and forth about work over weekends and also way into the evening even after leaving the office. This is why I achieved quite a lot with my boss during my internship. We were able to successfully put together an online course with other team members on communication for development for current practitioners and those who want to join the field. We are also nearing the completion of putting together a compilation of case studies from different countries (12) on the best practices with regards to the use of theater to bring about social change. Being a firm believer in the change which UNICEF wants to bring through its different projects, I also volunteered to help out on work, which was being done by some of the neighboring offices. This helped me to create a good reputation beyond the section in which I worked in to the point that others even just began soliciting for my help.

Aaron Mwewa and David Van Slyke, Dean of the Maxwell School

November, 15th, 2017, was officially my last day after my internship was extended to that date from August, when it was supposed to end. Having needed to come back to school at the end of August, this year, I did the last part of the internship virtually and travelled to New York from Syracuse from time to time when I go the chance. I had to endure the 5 hour bus rides both ways while getting some work done. The fulfillment I got from the work I have been doing made the journeys worthwhile. Indications are that my internship supervisor may want to extend the internship again if that opportunity becomes possible. She actually continues to consult me to this day. That is what passion does. It helps you to do so well that people want to continue working with you. With passion, you work from the heart and not for the pay or simply to clock in the hours. When you work from the heart, you are definitely on to something. Kerida’s parting words to me: “Working with heart is what gets you the seat at the big table even when others think you are too young to be there because you will not be doing what your peers are doing. You will be that exceptional bright shining star that cannot simply be ignored.”

If your desire is to make a difference in the world, you must be different from the world. Passion sets you apart because it gives that cutting edge.

Joint MAIR/MSPR degrees from the Maxwell School and the Newhouse School

The Newhouse School

The Maxwell School

Ana Monzon Spends a Semester Abroad in the Paris Institute of Political Studies, Sciences Po

Ana Monzon graduated from the Maxwell School in August 2017 with a joint Master of Arts in International Relations – Master of Public Administration degree. She spent her last semester abroad, participating in the Sciences Po Global Program in the spring.

I began my final full semester as a grad student in NYC, just two weeks before departing for Paris. I took the course United Nations Managing for Change at the UN Headquarters. Thanks to Professor Catherine Bertini, my class was able to gain insight into the UN system from UN leaders, past and present. This was my second class with a role model for me in the field of global food security; I took Ms. Bertini’s Food Security class in Rome on my first semester at Maxwell.

Ana at the Sciences Po main campus.

Immediately after at Sciences Po, I studied with Olivier De Schutter, former UN Special Rapporteur to the Right to Food. On my Fulbright Fellowship in 2012, I had informed much of my research on the agricultural development in rural Brazil from De Schutter’s academic work. Being taught by him on a weekly basis in Paris was surreal; each and every class! For my final project I titled my reform’s proposal; A State-led Agri-food Development System Based on Savings-Based Women Associations and Agroecology. I could not believe I was writing a paper for THE expert on global hunger issues!  I still can’t.

Alongside former U.N. Special Rapporteur to the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter.

My other courses at Sciences Po allowed me to delve further into land tenure and property rights, and gender issues. This focus and subsequent academic research products led me to my final grad student placement in Tetra Tech ARD, one of the largest consulting and contracting firms in international development. Specifically, I gathered the Lessons Learned for all the projects under the 700 million USD USAID STARR IDIQ (contract) that the Land Tenure and Property Rights Sector of Tetra Tech ARD implemented around the world.

Ana and her Tetra Tech supervisors, Dr. Mark Freudenberger and Ms. Amy Regas, after the Lessons Learned presentation to USAID leaders from its Office of Land and Urban .

Being at Tetra Tech ARD meant, sadly, foregoing a language fellowship in Indonesia that I was awarded from the Critical Language Study Program of the U.S. Department of State, which I would attribute to my first graduate internship with the Millennium Challenge Corporation in Indonesia.

Yet, I wouldn’t change a thing in my Master’s journey. All has come full circle. Currently, I am a Fulbright Public Policy scholar in my home country, Guatemala. My placement at the Vice Ministry of Food and Nutritional Security of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Government of Guatemala enables me to employ all the knowledge gained in international affairs and public administration at the Maxwell School and Sciences Po.

Alongside community leaders from the “Cooperativa Integral Agrícola Joya Hermosa de las Tres Cruces R.L.”, working with Heifer International on projects of indigenous corn and potato storage and employing Heifer’s “passing on the gift” approach on these staples as well as on goat herding, in Huehuetenango, Guatemala.

I am forever grateful to the financial support from the Robertson Foundation, Global Programs, Clements Award, and to the remarkable education acquired at Syracuse University and abroad in France.

Last day of the UN class in NYC, handing Professor Catherine Bertini a ‘thank you’ coffee souvenir from Indonesia, where I had previously interned with the Millennium Challenge Corporation.
Ana’s last evening in Paris, strolling along River Seine.

Maxwell MPA/MAIR Degree

Sciences Po Global Program

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

Brian Neufuss Interns at UN’s Joint Inspection Unit

Brian Neufuss is a current joint JD/MAIR student at the Maxwell School. He participated in the Graduate Internships in Geneva Program this past summer, where he interned at the Joint Inspection Unit of the United Nations.

My name is Brian Neufuss and I am originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I am a joint Law and International Relations Masters student at Syracuse University and I completed my internship through the Global Program at the United Nations in Geneva. While in Geneva, I worked at the Joint Inspection Unit where we reviewed other UN organizations and offered recommendations to improve their delivery of services. The internship fit well with my joint Law/MAIR degree and provided an incredible professional experience that will certainly benefit my future career. After graduation, I would like to pursue a career in the U.S. Federal Government or International government and the global program in Geneva gave me a unique experience towards my professional development.

The Geneva experience was incredible. Geneva is a nice little city that sits on a beautiful lake on the western side of the Alps. Geneva is also unique because of its immense diversity. There are people living there from almost any country in the world and that offers an experience to work and live that is unique compared to almost any other city. For example, in my office of roughly 35 people, there was only one other American colleague. That diverse workplace is a particular highlight for my professional development. Geneva’s central location in Europe also offers incredible opportunities to travel including only a three-hour train to Paris. The international civil servants at the UN are also very understanding when it comes to time off and travel and they were very encouraging to take opportunities to see other places in Europe. I traveled to Budapest, Istanbul and Krakow over several weekends and it really created a valuable professional, cultural and educational experience.

I would encourage anyone to consider working in Geneva if they are interested in international government organizations. It was an incredible experience that is unmatched to any work experience I have had. The ability to travel and see the cities of Europe truly made my time in Geneva unforgettable.

Brian Neufuss in front of the Matterhorn

Graduate Internships in Geneva

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Jane Buchholz Works on Migration at the UN

Jane Buchholz is a current MAIR student at the Maxwell School. She participated in the Graduate Internships in Geneva Program this past summer,  interning at the UN’s International Organization for Migration.

I was interested in the Graduate Internships in Geneva program because my career goal was to work in the UN system, and at the time I was especially interested in working in headquarters instead of in a duty station. My area of interest in IR is migration. Therefore, I was very excited to be placed in the headquarters of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in the International Partnerships Division (IPD), which deals primarily with managing IOM’s relationships with external organizations.

Jane visits the Matterhorn.

While with IPD, I helped to organize several meetings and events, most of which were connected to the Global Compact on Migration, which will be finalized next year and is expected to be an agreement governing migration similar to how the Paris Climate Accords govern environmental protection. As the UN Migration agency, IOM is deeply invested in the preparations and outcome of the Global Compact on Migration, and expect that the mission and structure of the organization may even change as a result of the Compact.

Jane in Gruyere.

My work also focused on entities called “Regional Consultative Processes” on migration. Regional Consultative Processes are meetings of migration experts or ministries from each country in a region or migration route. The meetings are non-binding and generally private, and participants use them to discuss best practices, concerns, and needs related to managing migration. This October, IOM will be hosting a global meeting of the Chairs (usually one of the countries in the process, represented by an Ambassador) and Secretariats of all Regional Consultative Processes, so that best practices can be shared globally. I helped a colleague in my division to invite track participation in the meeting, and to prepare a report on the outcome of last year’s meeting (also hosted by IOM in Geneva). I was also involved in creating brochures for IOM to publish, providing information on each global meeting that has occurred and on Regional Consultative Processes in general.

A window overlooking the city with Lake Geneva in the background.

My time with IPD was fascinating and showed me what working in headquarters in the UN system might feel like. I continue to be optimistic about the work that the UN (and especially the IOM) does, and am grateful that the Graduate Internships in Geneva program allowed me the chance to see that work up close.

Graduate Internships in Geneva

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Aaron Mwewa, Living My Dream at UNICEF in NYC

Aaron Mwewa is a 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.

Aaron’s first day at HQ in New York City.

This summer, I was privileged to live my dream — to intern at the United Nations Children’s Fund Headquarters in the Communications for Development (C4D) Section in New York. All of this was made possible thanks to Syracuse University’s robust alumni network. Being interested in the work of the U.N., I took a class with distinguished Prof. Catherine Bertini called “United Nations Organizations: Managing for Change.” Throughout the course, I met former Syracuse University students, including Ms. Shannon O’shea who connected me to Senior C4D Advisor Dr. Kerida Macdonald, under whom I currently work.

My supervisors were so happy with my performance that they decided to extend my internship until Nov. 14, 2017, which is for another three months approximately. I will be doing the extended part virtually and visit the New York office whenever I get the opportunity. What helped me to hit the ground running is the fact that I had been doing work with the same office even before the internship officially began.

This internship is a perfect fit for me, as my ambition is to become a thought leader in Africa in C4D, because I am convinced that communication must be at the heart of any sustainable development effort as it can help to bring those on the margins of society to the table. When women and children are brought to the table, their families have a chance to benefit more from any key social outcomes. For me, there could be no better stage than UNICEF on which I could practice and learn about this evolving field.

While at UNICEF, I helped develop a draft research outline for the forthcoming research on the digital engagement of youths in conversations on developmental issues. This research will take place in 37 countries. I was also essential to putting together theatre for development best practices through a compendium which is scheduled to be published soon. With the assistance of the country offices, I packaged many stories that will be used in the book.
The highlight of my internship was being asked to edit the final draft of the C4D online course designed for UNICEF employees and those who are passionate about the field. This course will help to create other champions like me, who will use C4D to create real impact in the lives of children by giving them a voice. This way, I would have contributed in real Maxwellian fashion to making the world a better place, because a voice for children is a voice for the future.

Carol Tojeiro at the UN Migration Agency in Ghana

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.

Carol Tojeiro wearing the IOM vest at a village in Ghana

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

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Maxwell African Scholars Union

Camila Urbina Escobar, Working on Donor Relations at World Food Programme in Paris

Camilla Urbina Escobar is a DeSardon Glass Fellow and joint MPA/MAIR student expecting to graduate in the summer of 2017.

In many ways, Maxwell has helped me find my professional and personal identity. It has helped me understand my passions and how I can better be of service to my community, my country, and anyone. The journey that started with the opportunity of a lifetime to attend Syracuse University brought me to my Fall Semester studying at one of France’s foremost academic institutions, Sciences Po, and doing my second internship for the World Food Programme in a year. It has been an amazing chance to experience academic and professional life in France in a brilliant historical and cultural environment.

Studying in the Shadow of Giants

The academic leg of my French adventure was at times almost unbelievable, studying against the backdrop of art museums and steps away from historic Paris was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Sciences Po is one of France’s oldest and most prominent academic institutions, the alma mater of French Presidents and Prime Ministers. The professors and courses were a dream come true for a passionate student like myself. I was able to take incredible courses, including Promotion of Human Rights with Professor Aryeh Neier, the founder of Human Rights Watch; Global Health Management with Karl Blanchet, one of the best professors of the London School of Tropical Medicine; and a negotiation class with Alain Lempereur, the man that until recently was supporting the UN talks in Syria.

Sciences Po was the opportunity to learn from amazing professors and make invaluable networking connections by sharing the classroom with people from all over the world, representing Maxwell and contributing my perspectives in one of the most diverse academic spaces I have ever experienced.

At The French Liason Office

As I wanted to take full advantage of my opportunity of being in Europe and continue the work I started in Timor-Leste over the summer, and was accepted to work with the UN’s World Food Programme Paris Liaison Office, which handles all the donations from the government of France and Monaco to the agency.

It has been a wonderful opportunity to understand the relations between WFP and the European governments, and work in donor and public relations for the organization. Supporting their communications efforts and attending meetings with the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs about their donations to their countries of interests. Being part of one of WFP’s high performance teams and contributing to their work has given me the chance to improve my French and strengthen the  competences I received at the Maxwell School with experience working with the UN in a context of European relations—a chance to put theory to practice.

Being in France gave me invaluable networking opportunities, allowed me to work in a multicultural environment and provided me with insights into the inner workings of the liaison offices of the world’s most effective humanitarian agency. This experience has brought me closer to a dream I have had since I was 12 years old, working for the United Nations to help countries like my native Colombia. Maxwell has allowed me to be one step closer to that dream with the opportunity to have a working and studying experience in France.

Camila Urbina at the Pont Neuf in Paris
Camila Urbina at UNESCO HQ where the WFP offices are located

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Suhyeon Lee Gains a Better Understanding of IOM

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. 

Suhyeon Lee with her IOM badge at a restaurant in Geneva
Suhyeon Lee with her IOM badge at a restaurant in Geneva

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.

Ivan Zhivkov, Suhyeon Lee, James Murray, and Maria Chiara Vinciguerra at a festival
Ivan Zhivkov, Suhyeon Lee, James Murray, and Maria Chiara Vinciguerra at a festival

Learn more about the Graduate Internships in Geneva Program

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Chris Damon-Cronmiller, Original Research in Geneva

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.

Chris Damon-Cronmiller in Switzerland
Chris Damon-Cronmiller in Switzerland

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.

James Murray, Chris Damon-Cronmiller, Ivan Zhivkov, and Associate Professor Werner Schleiffer in Switzerland
James Murray, Chris Damon-Cronmiller, Ivan Zhivkov, and Associate Professor Werner Schleiffer in Switzerland
The 2016 Geneva Summer Internships program cohort: Ivan Zhivkov, Chris Damon-Cronmiller, Corena Sharp, Claudine Lim, James Murray, Suhyeon Lee, and Janessa Price. (Maria Chiara Vinciguerra not pictured)
The 2016 Geneva Summer Internships program cohort: Ivan Zhivkov, Chris Damon-Cronmiller, Corena Sharp, Claudine Lim, James Murray, Suhyeon Lee, and Janessa Price. (Maria Chiara Vinciguerra not pictured)

Learn more about the Graduate Internships in Geneva Program

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