Tag Archives: Washington DC

Giovanna de Miranda, Preventing Violence at FFP

For my summer semester, I participated in the Maxwell in DC program. While in DC, I interned for Fund For Peace (FFP), a non-profit organization that focuses on conflict reduction and violence prevention. FFP uses data analysis and risk assessment tools to provide information on violence, risks, and vulnerabilities around the world. The organization’s work focuses on conflict early warning responses, election violence prevention, capacity building, responsible business practices, and combating violent extremism.

While interning at Fund for Peace, I had the chance to be involved in different projects. For instance, I participated in a project on election violence prevention in Nigeria. During this project I conducted research on election violence using risk assessment tools and quantitative data. By analyzing the data from previous election years, the project attempted to understand trends of violence in order to predict strategies for the prevention of violence in the country’s next elections in 2019.

Giovanna (front, center) with fellow interns

I also worked on a conflict early warning capacity building training for the African Development Bank. I collaborated in putting together a case study that would be used in the training of AfDB economists on how to face vulnerabilities and prevent violence in the African continent. In addition, I was also engaged in research projects on ICTs and Blockchains in Sub-Saharan Africa and GBV in small-scale mining.

My work at Fund For Peace was a very enriching experience that taught me more about conflict early warning prevention outside of academia. I got to experience how organizations use conflict resolution and violence prevention strategies to affect change. More so, I also gained valuable skills in using different types of methodologies and assessment tools to conduct substantive research. Overall, my internship at Fund For Peace was a valuable and educational opportunity that will contribute to my future career goals.

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Ian Gottesfeld Applies Statistics to International Energy Markets

I spent this summer interning at the Department of Energy’s US Energy Information Administration, commonly known as EIA. I had applied to a general internship with the DOE, and was ultimately placed at EIA. Before the internship began, I had a limited knowledge of energy and was unfamiliar with the work EIA did. After interning at this organization, I can say was very lucky to have this experience.

Ian Gottsfeld at the EIA

I had a hunch that I would like working in energy and I was right. EIA primarily produces statistics, analyses and forecasts for the US energy market. However, my specific office – the Office of International Energy Analysis – publishes international energy statistics and conducts analyses on energy markets in foreign countries. As an intern, I had the opportunity to both work in statistics and perform analysis. With the help of full-time “feds,” I transformed data from other sources and analyzed it against ours. I also conducted my own analysis on the energy scenario in various countries. I learned an incredible amount and found my work fascinating. Energy markets are an interesting mix of economics, politics and science, with many moving parts. I also felt that the work I did was important.

Ian Gottsfeld with U.S. Department of Energy Seal

Of all places in the energy sector, I feel fortunate to have landed at EIA. It is considered one of the premier sources of energy data in the world, and used by nearly everyone in the energy sector, including many people I have met in Washington. My coworkers are also exceptional people. EIA is an interesting mix of economists, scientists and international affairs specialists, many with PhDs. The depth of their knowledge of energy markets impresses me every day.

Finally, despite the fact that my coursework in energy had been limited prior to starting the internship, Maxwell and Syracuse prepared me well for the work I did. The three economics courses I took at Maxwell helped me to understand the dynamics of energy markets and prices, which I come across daily. Meanwhile, the Data Science course I took at the iSchool provided me with skills I utilized in some of my larger data projects. While energy is a new field for me, the skills I took from graduate school were highly applicable and practicing them on the job was a gratifying experience.

Ian Gottsfeld is a recent graduate of the MAIR program. He also interned at the U.S. Government Accountability Office during his final Fall Semester.

Ian Gottsfeld outside the U.S. Department of Energy

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Emma Buckhout, Internal Communications at USCIS

This summer, I participated in the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Summer Enrichment Program at headquarters in Washington, DC. As “student trainee,” or intern, with the Internal Communications (IC) division within the Office of Public Affairs, I supported internal workforce communication for 19,000 government employees and contractors. Among other tasks, I provided primary support on USCIS’ tri-weekly internal newsletter, editing and publishing articles for the agency intranet site.

Through my MPA/MAIR studies at Maxwell I am concentrating on immigration and refugee policy. I applied for this internship with hopes of learning first-hand what USCIS actually does and how it operates. USCIS is the component within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) tasked with, as its mission statement says, “adjudicating requests for immigration benefits.” I had previously worked on immigration and U.S.-Mexico border policy for two NGOs in Washington, DC, but had focused primarily on political debates, border enforcement issues, and migration through Mexico. I was eager to learn more about how the actual U.S. immigration services are carried out and more about the granular process of immigrating to the U.S. and gaining citizenship.

Emma Buckhout addresses fellow interns and a USCIS audience at the USCIS Summer Enrichment Program 2018 closing ceremony

While internal communications may seem removed from the actual immigration and refugee adjudications, and even farther from the big-picture policy work, it was the perfect window from which to learn how all of USCIS’ varied components fit together. My office cleared and sent out any policy directives and announcements from USCIS or DHS leadership to all USCIS employees. At the same time, we received articles and announcements from field offices across the country on special events, accomplishments, and trainings. To properly edit and publish them, I not only had to learn the agency style rules, but I also got to learn a little bit about what each agency component does.

The USCIS Summer Enrichment Program also provided invaluable learning and professional development opportunities for the cohort of over 60 interns. We visited a regional USCIS service center, where we heard from the officers who review the applications for specific immigration benefits, and the Virginia asylum office, where officers explained how they conduct in-person asylum interviews. We also attended a naturalization ceremony in which we got to witness dozens of people complete the rigorous process to become U.S. citizens. Furthermore, the internship program worked with several headquarters offices to host career panels and skills workshops, as well as a talk with USCIS Director Cissna. As a result of my participation, I was honored as one of three Summer Enrichment participants chosen to speak at Intern Closing Ceremony.

In the end, I succeeded in learning more completely about the structure and work of USCIS. I also built invaluable relationships with my talented Internal Communications team, and gained a renewed respect for the value of communication, clear writing, and editing in any professional field.

Emma Buckhout is a MPA/MAIR student and Robertson Fellow focusing on immigration and refugee policy.

Emma Buckhout with the USCIS-DHS seal

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Zeyar Win Assists VOA with Rohingya Issues

I participated in the Maxwell-in-Washington summer practicum and had the opportunity to intern at Voice of America (VOA), the largest US International broadcasting service funded by the federal government. This internship provided me the opportunity to merge two things I’m strongly interested in: broadcasting and media framing. I have been interested in the media since I was young, so this was a great opportunity for me to work there.

My off-campus experience working with VOA in Washington D.C. was terrific and fruitful. I also related it to my previous activism experience in Burma. I fulfilled three main tasks at the VOA: 1) I collected information about the Rohingya problem, especially from research papers, statements of all stakeholders, and relevant news from eight selective websites. Then, I put them into an excel sheet altogether with my own analysis. This helped VOA with further content analysis on the Rohingya problem. 2) I observed the newsroom where there was broadcasting and editing of the TV news. 3) I found some eligible Rohingya speakers living in the U.S. and connected them to the VOA Bengal service for a new Rohingya language broadcasting program. This internship has also improved my skills in reporting for media and strengthened my professional ability to work in a multicultural environment.

Washington D.C. is a vibrant environment for me to learn and an excellent opportunity to broaden my network even though living in D.C. is a bit challenging for me because of high living expenses. During the weekend, I tried to meet with my many new friends, and talk about my future plans. For instance, I joined the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a hearing on the rights of victims of grave human rights abuses in Burma. At this event, I met with many people from different organizations working on Burma’s issues. I also met with the former U.S. Ambassador and Charge d’ Affairs of Burma and discussed about Rohingya ethnic cleansing in Burma.

I often joined the Maxwell alumni gatherings in Washington, D.C. as well. Those gatherings were helpful for me because we can share knowledge and information with each other, and sometimes, discuss with each other about our plans, internships, and job opportunities.

Zeyar Win is a MAIR student and Open Society Scholar. He is currently interning at Amnesty International in Washington, DC.

Zeyar Win at VOA

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Ivan Ponomarev Wastes No Time with Two Internships in DC

I spent this summer in Washington D.C. as part of the Maxwell-in-Washington summer program. I have never been to our nation’s capital before, so this was definitely quite the experience. From visiting monuments and museums to attending concerts and interesting presentations, this summer had no shortage of things to keep me busy. Add a summer class and two internships to the mix and you barely even have time to sit down and relax, but not in a bad
way. Why would you want to when the summer is short and any second wasted will only be a future regret?

Ivan Ponomarev at the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy holding the organization’s logo with their “tracks.”

Aside from the coursework and all of the fun activities, the professional experience that I gained at my two internships was invaluable. Sure, it was tough balancing the two when there are
only 40 hours in a workweek, but the different experiences that I had and the different skills that I acquired were well worth it. I spent part of my time interning at Nonviolence International, which is an organization that works to promote conflict resolution through nonviolence and to create a worldwide culture of peace. My responsibilities included the oversight and planning of an educational peace tour to Ukraine, as well as research and outreach to potential participants for this trip.

My second internship this summer was at the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy, which works to promote a systems-based approach to peacebuilding and to facilitate the transformation of deeply-rooted social conflict. My responsibilities included conducting research on the conflict and peacebuilding sector and producing white papers, as well as analyzing conflict zones and identifying potential funders, partners and peer competitors.

I am eternally grateful for the wonderful opportunities that I had this summer, as it was certainly one to remember. I will always look back at this summer as an important building block in the person that I will become and am beyond excited to find out what lies ahead in my future.

Ivan Ponomarev is a MAIR student doing a second semester in the Maxwell-in-Washington program. He is currently interning at National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START).

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Khem Sedhai Networks and Attends Events in DC & NYC

I had a wonderful experience in DC during Summer 2018. I completed a course “Who Will Rule the 21st Century” as a part of the Washington Summer Practicum. The course advanced my knowledge and skills in the areas of economic success, military strength, the rise and fall of great powers within the international system, and global threats to human beings such as global warming and nuclear proliferation. Since the classes were in the evenings, I had ample time to participate in different conferences and workshops organized by the World Bank, United Nations, different developmental organizations, diplomatic offices, and policy institutions.

Khem Sedhai at ABCDE Conference

The two conferences at the World Bank – Annual Bank Conference on Development Economics (ABCDE), and the Nepal Day workshop – were imperative for me. The ABCDE conference helped me to expand my understanding of political economy. The Nepal Day workshop was focused on economic and developmental agendas on Nepal in the context of the changing political situation and the recently formed government. The Honorable Minister of Finance and other senior government officials from Nepal, other countries, regional representatives of the World Bank, and senior officials from various development partners and donors’ organizations participated. It offered me an opportunity to analyze closely how the world bank works with developing countries.

Khem Sedhai at Nepal Day at the World Bank
Khem Sedhair with Nepal’s Honorable Finance Minister at Nepal Day

During the summer, I also participated in a three-day International Human Rights Summit at the United Nations Headquarters in NYC,  which was organized by Youth for Human Rights International. Interacting with participants from different parts of the world was an awesome opportunity for me to be updated with the current human rights scenario and challenges worldwide. Similarly, at the NAFSA Education Abroad Regulatory Summit, I had a chance to be familiar with the US government’s policies and regulations related to study abroad.

Khem Sedhair at UN in NYC
Khem Sedhai at NAFSA Youth for Human Rights Summit

Interaction program with Magsaysay Awardee, Mr. Mahabir Pun on Sustainable Economic Development through Technological Innovation in the Developing Countries was an incredible workshop I participated in this Summer. Others include the various events organized by Center for Global Development (CGD), the Brookings Institution, Center of Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Third Way, International Development Institute, Young Professionals in International Education (yPIE), Together for Human Rights Campaign, and special workshops organized by Maxwell-in-Washington, Maxwell Alumni.

Khem Sedhai with Mahabir Pun in Washington, DC

I would like to express my gratefulness to the team of the Maxwell School and the Maxwell-in-Washington program, professors, Maxwell alumni and funders for their generous support. For me, it was more about networking plus events this summer.

Khem Sedhai at the Maxwell School in Syracuse, NY
Khem Sedhai at the U.S. Capital

Khem Sedhai is a MAIR student currently interning at InterAction in Washington, DC.

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Kirssy Gonzalez, OAS Database on Trafficking in Persons

My summer internship at the Organization of American States (OAS) was rewarding for many reasons. I am passionate about working in development and migration policies and projects in the Americas. The OAS has increased my expertise in those fields and has given me the opportunity to meet amazing people from different countries.

Kirssy Gonzalez at OAS

My internship was based in the Department of Public Security within the Secretariat for Multidimensional Security. I researched policies, programs, and publications on the prevention of violence and crime in the region. I updated the Inter-American Network for Prevention of Violence and Crime with daily articles and learned about the relation between public security and international development.

I reviewed forms submitted by the National Authorities in the area of trafficking in persons (TIP). These forms included the OAS Member States laws and best practices to combat the heinous crime of TIP. The forms also included information about TIP within their countries. I sorted through this information which will be used for the upcoming database on TIP in the region. This database will include the contact information of government officials and institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and activists that are working against TIP; hotlines for victims and witnesses of the crime; information on resources available for victims; and documents regarding TIP.

The internship has allowed me to meet United States Foreign Service Officers, international civil servants, employees of the Organization of American States, and people from all over the world who work in development, humanitarian assistance, and diplomacy.

This opportunity has been rewarding and I am grateful for the experience.

Kirssy Gonzalez is a graduate of SU’s Maxwell School and College of Arts and Sciences. She has earned both a MA in International Relations (MAIR) from Maxwell and a Pan-African Studies degree from Arts and Sciences. She also formerly interned at International Organization for Migration — the UN Migration Agency — in Geneva during the summer of 2017.

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Pan African Studies at SU’s College of Arts and Sciences

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Kevin Oswald Explores European Energy Diversity at Student Conference

Kevin Oswald is a recent alumni of the Atlantis Transatlantic Dual Degree program, completing an MAIR degree from the Maxwell School and an MPP from the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin. He also completed internships at the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Washington D.C. and Agora Energiewende in Berlin during his studies.

Kevin Oswald at ESC 2018

From March 29 to 31, 2018 I had the opportunity to participate in the European Student Conference (ESC) 2018 at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. ESC is a conference organized by European Horizons that brought together 100 undergraduate and graduate students from universities across the United States, Europe and Asia with distinguished academics and seasoned policy-makers in order to address some of the challenges confronting the European Union.Prior to the conference, students from different parts of the world and with different academic backgrounds, had been divided into groups, according to their knowledge and interests, in order to deal with the following challenges in six workshops related to: Energy, Technology, EU-China, Democracy, National Sovereignty and Security. Each group then made an effort to develop policy recommendations with regard to their topic and during the conference those proposals by the students were discussed with decision-makers and renowned academics. This year, ESC hosted representatives from business, politics and diplomacy, such as the former President of the European Parliament, Enrique Barón Crespo, as well as several academics from US universities.

Enrique Barón Crespo at ESC 2018 speaking during the opening session in the auditorium of Yale University

As a student enrolled in the transatlantic ATLANTIS dual-degree Master program in International Relations and Public Policy offered by the Maxwell School and the Hertie School of Governance, I am particularly interested in foreign and security policy as well as in energy and climate policy. Therefore, I took part in the energy workshop and together with fellow students worked on the issue of the EU’s dependency on energy imports, particularly natural gas, in order to meet its demand. Given the fact that a high proportion of imports is concentrated among relatively few partners, the security of the EU’s natural gas supplies may be threatened. Our team provided a solid analysis of the status quo and presented several policy recommendations with the primary goals to diversify supply sources (new pipelines, interconnectors, LNG etc.) and to utilize soft tools, which, for instance, might require setting up an EU Energy Diplomacy Task Force to deal with delicate pipeline projects such as Nord Stream 2.

I was impressed with the expertise and dedication of our group and look forward to seeing our recommendations being published in the Review of European and Transatlantic Affairs, a journal that will be distributed to university libraries across Europe and the U.S., as well as to European decision-makers.

In sum, ESC 2018 has been a wonderful experience and I truly enjoyed the opportunity to work with fellow students that all have a passion for the EU. In addition, I hope to become part of the international ESC network that links thinkers and leaders from both sides of the Atlantic and beyond.

Energy Working Group at ESC 2018

Kevin Oswald Interns at the German Embassy in Washington, DC

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Mia Mazer Gains Significant Humanitarian Experience at InterAction

Mia Mazer is 2018 graduate of the Maxwell School, where she earned a joint MPA/MAIR degree. This past fall she interned at InterAction as part of the Maxwell-in-Washington fall program.

This fall I set out to Washington, D.C. to complete coursework through the Maxwell-in-Washington program and intern at InterAction, an alliance of over 190 NGOs working in the humanitarian and international development sectors. InterAction serves as a convener, thought leader, and voice in the community, representing and advocating for legislation, policies, and practices that impact its members’ work at the international, regional, and national levels. The organization’s mission is to be a leader in the global quest to eliminate extreme poverty and vulnerability, strengthen human rights and citizen participation, safeguard a sustainable planet, promote peace, and ensure dignity for all people.

I worked for the The Humanitarian Policy and Practice (HPP) Team which is dedicated to providing leadership and support for InterAction members that are active in humanitarian response and advocacy. Humanitarian organizations within the InterAction alliance provide services, materials and logistical aid to affected people in crises. InterAction supports the work of these members by providing a forum for consultation, coordination and advocacy on emergency response. Apart from providing immediate response to emergencies, many NGOs engage in activities to improve the overall response of the international humanitarian system. InterAction engages at various levels with United Nations agencies, various policy bodies of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), the U.S. Government, NGO consortia and individual international NGOs on cross-cutting issues and country-specific situations. The HPP team’s work is organized across the following four work streams: humanitarian policy, humanitarian practice, protection (inclusive of results-based protection, gender-based violence, prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse, and NGO security), shelter and settlements.

As an HPP Intern, I gained invaluable experience while supporting the humanitarian policy, humanitarian practice, and protection work streams. I conducted research, drafted summary notes and reports, and attended and reported on Congressional briefings and hearings, working group meetings, and member events to inform InterAction’s humanitarian policy and advocacy work.

My work allowed me to gain a better understanding of the linkage between international policy and programming in the humanitarian field as well as core elements of the global humanitarian architecture. I also gained a tremendous amount of knowledge on various technical, thematic, and regional issues pertinent to the humanitarian field, including some of my own interests, such as the intersection of humanitarian assistance and gender issues.

This experience helped define my goal of pursuing a career in policy and advocacy in humanitarian assistance and/or international development. My work often informed my contributions to class discussions in both classes I took on global sustainability and public policy and African conflicts. Living and working in Washington D.C. allowed me to connect with numerous Maxwell School alumni and other professionals working in my fields of interest and begin to cultivate a meaningful network which will be there for me when I graduate.

Mia Mazer Works on Youth Health in Rural Nicaragua

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MPA/MAIR Joint Degree Program at the Maxwell School

Trace Carlson Does Conflict Research at The Fund for Peace

Trace Carlson is a 2017 MAIR graduate of The Maxwell School. This past fall he interned at The Fund for Peace as part of the Maxwell-in-Washington fall program.

My fall semester in D.C. was busy, but incredibly rewarding. Between interning full-time, taking twelve hours of classes, three of which was language study, and finding time to enjoy all that D.C. has to offer, I was busy to say the least. I spent the fall semester interning for the Fund for Peace, an NGO that focuses on conflict research and mitigation activities around the world. The Fund for Peace is most well known for their prolific Fragile States Index. However, I did not work on the Fragile States Index. I worked on a USAID-funded project that sought to develop early warning conflict systems for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The scope of the work is what drew me to the Fund for Peace and to decline other internship opportunities.

Trace Carlson.

For the project, we conducted months-long desktop research on every country in ECOWAS and wrote a national-level report detailing specific indicators and sub-indicators in each country that could contribute to the outbreak of conflict. The reports were then analyzed to understand the major issues in each country so that we could develop a list of stakeholders to interview in each country. Unfortunately, I did not get to go on any field visits for the stakeholder interviews. The transcripts and other data collected from the field visits were culled for pertinent information to either corroborate the research or edit aspects we had previously misinterpreted to better reflect the situation on the ground. The stakeholder interviews occurred in different states or provinces around each country and helped inform our research on the hyperlocal issues. The collective voice of stakeholders and the issues they faced were used to write a sub-national report for nearly every state, province, or region in every ECOWAS country. The national level report was further edited and the sub-national level reports were added to it, as well as other data packets and analyses to comprise the final report.

Read more about Trace Carlson in India and Nepal:

Trace Carlson Conducts Research in Hindi

Maxwell Students Make a Difference in Nepal

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MAIR Degree at The Maxwell School

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