Asia

Robb Woodruff’s Professional & Cultural Experience in Southeast Asia

Singapore is a unique city that offers a cosmopolitan experience in the heart of Southeast Asia. Culturally, it is a mix of neighboring Asian nations such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. There is a parallel to the New York City metaphor of a “melting pot” of people, religions and cultures. This can be seen especially through all the different types of food that you can find in the food centers.

Shifting from academic life to professional was an adjustment but a welcome one. I worked in the finance department of Pratt & Whitney, an American aerospace firm that produces jet turbines for commercial and government aircraft. My work focused on performing invoice price verifications, asset inventory identification and management and generating comparative tables for hours workers logged. I was fortunate to have supportive coworkers that assisted me with understanding the different tasks and projects that were assigned to me.  I ended each day at 4:50pm which left me time to enjoy parts of the city with some daylight still left.

Robb Woodruff with Singapore program participants
Robb Woodruff (back, 2nd from L) with SU Singapore program participants and Program Director, Professor Gary Lapoint (middle, 2nd from L) plus fellow Maxwell MAIR student, Mark Aludino (middle, 1st from L)

Despite being a small island, there are many areas to explore in the city and always something new to see. Our program group was fortunate enough to travel to Malaysia and Indonesia as well. In Malacca, there were bike taxis decorated in vibrant colors and booming stereo systems. It was fun to see the wide array of taxis, and how the drivers chose to personalize them. Indonesia was a nice escape to a little resort with an amazing beach. The water was piercingly blue, and crystal clear which made leaving after two days even more difficult. All in all, the Singapore program was an amazing experience that gave me professional and culture experience in Southeast Asia.

MAIR Program at the Maxwell School
Singapore Summer Internships Program
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Maggie Callahan Gets Rewards Tenfold with Aythos in Nepal

Nepal is not for the faint of heart. In the two months I lived there, I vomited from dust induced coughing a dozen times; made countless emergency visits to a squatty potty; got over 20 bed bug bites and seven leach bites; rode in a jeep with people hanging off the sides and sitting on the roof up a narrow winding mountain road; and survived countless motorbike rides through rush hour traffic without holding on to the man driving. Surprisingly, I would do it again, and I would recommend an Aythos Nepal internship to anyone ready to overcome these challenges for rewards tenfold.

Maggie Callahan assisting with health education
Maggie Callahan (2nd from left) assisting in women’s reproductive health trainings in Kathmandu

As an Aythos Nepal intern, no two days are alike, but each day brings new tasks and ways to effectively and meaningfully contribute to the work of the organization. My days in the office ranged from: leading and planning evaluation and monitoring trainings for staff, formulating needs assessments and surveys, researching for women’s empowerment and agriculture projects, assisting in program planning, and cutting out fabric pads for upcoming trainings.

My days outside the office, however, were my favorite. In the field, I hiked along the most beautiful mountains I’ve ever seen, learned and performed local dances, assisted in feminine hygiene and sustainable livelihood projects, and traveled to parts of Nepal that tourists never see. As for the places tourists see, my time off during the weekends and flexible schedule allowed me to travel to well traversed areas of Nepal as well.

Maggie Callahan at Nepalese Temple
Maggie Callahan traveling on free weekends throughout Nepal

Ultimately, my internship with Aythos Nepal was one of the most challenging experiences of my graduate school career. It pushed me out of my comfort zone professionally, culturally, physically, and mentally. It was an immeasurably valuable opportunity to constantly practice and refine the intercultural communication and program planning and evaluation skills that will be the cornerstone of my future career. For students ready for the challenge and eager to have an internship that gives them real experience, Aythos Nepal is the perfect fit.

Maggie Callahan is completing her joint MAIR/MSPR degree at the Maxwell and Newhouse schools at Syracuse University.

Maggie Callan at a Nepalese Temple
Maggie Callahan traveling on free weekends throughout Nepal
Maggie Callahan (Center) with her Aythos colleagues
Maggie Callahan (center) and her two supervisors at Aythos, Shanti Magar (left) and Samikshya Shrestha (right)
MAIR/MSPR Program at the Maxwell and Newhouse Schools
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Mark Aludino Delves Into Supply Chains in Singapore

With its bustling ports and world-class airport, Singapore functions as a hub in the Southeast Asian region. As such, goods transit through the island making it a haven for logistics companies, such as the YCH Group, where I interned for the summer. This opportunity to be part of Singapore’s largest home-grown supply chains company served to complement the year I spent at the Maxwell School under the MAIR program.

As an intern for the Consumer Lifestyle and E-Commerce Department, I was tasked to provide oversight on the company’s budding e-commerce hub, which provides added-value services for various consumer goods. With this responsibility, I split time handling business development affairs at the office level and experiencing first-hand the e-commerce operations at the warehouse. Through this attachment, I observed the intricate links in the supply chain process that enables an order made online to be delivered to the end-customer. What seemingly looks like a straightforward flow is riddled with partnerships and sharing of responsibilities between different stakeholders, from the producer to the warehouse team to the last-mile provider.

Mark Aludino at YCH Group
Mark Aludino (left) with a fellow SU student intern

During my stay, I regularly produced and updated two outputs: the E-Commerce Issue Log and the Evaluation of YCH’s Last-Mile Service Provider. In the log, I highlighted the concerns that negatively affected the timeliness and accuracy of the picking, sorting, and packing of products while informing the department of the most common problems as reflected in the statistics I provided. Even more, in the evaluation of the firm’s last-mile partner, I kept track of their performance to ensure that they are meeting the agreed-upon requirements. In fact, one of the highlights of my internship was presenting these data in a high-level meeting with our last-mile partner.

While I was mainly attached to the e-commerce arm, I was also brought in to provide my insight on contracts, where my governance training proved handy. It was then that I realized that there is a need to balance parity and business decision-making under this private setting. Overall, through SU’s Singapore Program, I increased my knowledge of logistics and service provision, which are crucial in international development.

SU Singapore Students 2019
Mark Aludino (2nd from left) and fellow Singapore program students.
MAIR Program at the Maxwell School
Singapore Summer Internships Program
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Johnathan Medina Researches Fintech in Southeast Asia for the EU

This past summer I interned with the European Institute for Asian Studies in Brussels where I worked as a Junior Researcher. EIAS was formed in 1989 and aims to contribute to the dialogue and improve relations between the EU and Asia. EIAS is a small organization where interns are given a great deal of responsibility from conducting our own research projects for the institute’s website to assisting with the logistics of events we held for Asian representatives.

Johnathan Medina (3 from R) with fellow interns and EIAS employees.

Given my technology background and EIAS wanting to focus more on the area, my summer projects focused on Financial Technology in Southeast Asia and how the EU can play a role. I had the opportunity previously to travel throughout Southeast Asia and work as an English teacher in Beijing.  This firsthand experience made researching the subject much more enjoyable and valuable experience. I appreciated the chance to work as a researcher and write papers that can be read by such a large audience. A big part of my internship was also networking with government and business officials who we hosted events for. It was eye-opening learning from their perspectives and experience and something that will be helpful throughout my career.

The most enjoyable aspect of my interest was getting to know my co-workers who were all incredibly talented. Each one of us came from a different country, which really helped to bring other perspectives into our conversations. I feel I learned the most just from our everyday conversations and it was something I really enjoyed. Overall my experience at EIAS was better than I could have imagined and will certainly help me as I transition long-term into my career.

Johnathan Medina is an MAIR student currently completing his degree in the Maxwell-in-Washington Program.

Maxwell MAIR students Federico Ohle (2 from L), Johnathan Medina (3 from L), Michaela Eagan (2 from R), and other SU students in Brussels with Program Director, George Terzis (far R).
MAIR Program at the Maxwell School
The European and Global Internship Program in Brussels
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Yue Chen Has Front Row Seat on US-China Trade

Over the spring, I served as a communications intern at the US-China Business Council (USCBC) in Washington, DC. USCBC is a private, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization of approximately 200 American companies that do business with China. Its mission is to expand the US-China commercial relationship to the benefit of its membership and, more broadly, the US economy.

Based on my background in international relations and public relations, I helped the communications & publications team at USCBC with daily news updates and social media management. I also helped interview Chinese scholars and translate documents into English for the publication in USCBC’s digital magazine – the China Business Review. Since the U.S. levied its first round of punitive tariffs in 2018, tensions have emerged between the U.S. and China, becoming a major global concern. It was a valuable opportunity for me to intern at USCBC around this period of time as I was able to obtain the first-hand materials and pay close attention to US-China trade issues.

In addition, I was very fortunate to have joined and helped with USCBC’s events and gained precious insights on US-China relations. When Chinese Premier Liu He visited Washington, DC for trade talks with President Trump on January 31, USCBC held its premier conference – Forecast 2019 – on China’s business and political environment and discussed the prospects of trade negotiations. On the Forecast, experts from think tanks, the US Senate and the US House of Representatives talked about the most focused on issues about US-China relations such as cybersecurity, intellectual property, tariffs and subsidies, etc. USCBC also co-hosted the US-China Innovation Forum with CSIS, where American and Chinese representatives from industry, finance, government and think tanks discussed how to best foster, protect, and advance innovation.

Thanks to the Maxwell DC Program, I am here to pursue my public diplomacy practice at the heart of global policy in Washington, DC. Interning at USCBC was a great chance for me to explore US-China trade relations and lay the foundation for my future career.

USCBC Forcast 2019 conference

Yue Chen is a recent alum of the joint MAIR/MSPR degree where she studied at the prestigious Maxwell and Newhouse Schools at Syracuse University. She formerly interned at Temasek’s Stewardship Asia Centre through SU’s Summer Internships in Singapore program.

MAIR/MSPR Program at the Maxwell and Newhouse Schools
Maxwell-in-Washington Program
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Chris Tonsmeire, Peace Operations Initiative at DOD

The U.S. Department of Defense’s USINDOPACOM headquarters is located on Camp HM Smith, Oahu, Hawaii.  It was recently renamed from USPACOM to reflect the importance of India in USINDOPACOM’s Area of Responsibility.  USINDOPACOM is unique among the Global Combatant Commands (GCC) because it is the only GCC with its subordinate Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Special Operations Commands co-located in the same state and island.  Additionally, the island of Oahu is home to Joint Interagency Task Force – West (JIATF-W), the Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (CFE-DM), the Daniel K. Inouye Center for Asia-Pacific Security Studies (APCSS), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) research facility.  An internship with USINDOPACOM offers an amazing opportunity to learn about all of these organizations.

Seal of USINDOPACOM

My position was as a Visiting Fellow in the J372 office.  The J372 is a sub-category of the J3 Operations directorate.  The J372 office consists of Multinational Programs and Theater Security Cooperation Exercises.   Multinational Programs, where I interned, consists of two programs: the Multinational Planning Augmentation Team (MPAT) and the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI).  While my internship was officially with GPOI, I was also able to work extensively with the MPAT.  GPOI was created in 2004 as the U.S. contribution to the broader G8 Action Plan for Expanding Global Capability for Peace Support Operations because of the strategic importance of international peace operations to US national security.  Increasing the capability of partner nations to conduct international peace operations was seen as a cost-effective way of increasing world stability and sharing the burden of conducting peace operations. To meet this objective, GPOI funds training, equipment, and facilities building capabilities worldwide for USINDOPACOM’s twelve regional partners. GPOI is unique in that it is a US State Department program that is executed by the US Department of Defense to build capacity of partners to train and sustain peacekeepers who deploy to United Nations missions around the world.

Like the GPOI team, the MPAT works to improve the capabilities of multinational partner forces.  Unlike the GPOI team the MPAT is regionally focused and was an initiative developed by the regional Chiefs of Defense in 2000 with the goal to facilitate the rapid and effective establishment and/or augmentation of a multinational force headquarters (MNF HQ) and/or other multinational military and civil-military coordination mechanisms.  In order to improve the ability of regional multinational response to natural disasters, humanitarian crises, and any other operation in USINDOPACOM’s area of responsibility that fall short of war, they have developed the Multinational Forces Standing Operating Procedures (MNF SOP) and conduct the TEMPEST EXPRESS exercise.  The MNF SOP is a living document that collects best practices, compiles and defines new terminology, and standardizes methods for all of these operations.  Yearly MNF SOP conferences are conducted to update the document as well as create relationships between military planners and civilian organization leaders active in the region.  These relationships are seen as added benefits that decrease response time when different organizations arrive to deal with a real-world crisis.  The TEMPEST EXPRESS and other theater security cooperation exercises are where the planners try to “break” the MNF SOP.  It is a scenario-based exercise that allows the planners to work together using the MNF SOP to deal with a simulated crisis.  Flaws exposed by the TE exercise and from real world use are then compiled into the MNF SOP at the next conference.

Getting to attend the MNF SOP 20 conference in Wellington, New Zealand was undoubtedly the highlight of my internship.  The conference sought to update and complete sections on Defensive Cyberspace Operations, Protections of Civilians, Logistics, Inter-agency Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Response, and the Glossary.  I was assigned to the Glossary section which compiles new terminology, acronyms, and definitions from the other working group.  This allowed me a great opportunity to see what every section was working on as well as meet experts from foreign governments, USAID, the IFRC and other NGOs, and different directorates of the US military. I was also asked to research options for a regional case study to include in the Inter-agency Cooperation section.  This greatly increased my familiarity with multinational operations in USINDOPACOMs area of responsibility.

USINDOPACOM Area of Command

My background as a Special Forces Communications Sergeant has given me exposure to planning on the tactical level and this internship expanded that planning knowledge to include the operational and strategic level.  My main projects working for the GPOI team was to create a spreadsheet that compiled the GPOI partner nations’ military force pledges to United Nations peacekeeping and identified the priorities for training programs location and subject.  Creating the pledge tracker required research into all of the different types of military units that are sent to support UN missions.  These included infantry, engineering, force headquarters support, medical, military police, reconnaissance, riverine, special forces, transportation and logistics units.  For the MPAT I was assigned the task of incorporating the changes to the MNF SOP from the conference in New Zealand.

Oahu is a great place for recreation as well as professional development.  The close relationship with my office was increased with participation in the MPAT fencing club and attendance of the MNF SOP 20 workshop.  There are numerous hikes, beaches, and coral reefs that are great to explore with other interns in the program.  The food is also unique due to the many cultural influences from Hawaii’s diverse immigrant population.  Hawaiian poke is a personal favorite.  Getting to know all of the great people in the office: Tak, Dan, Bernie, Joe, Bob, Bobby Ray, Murray, John, and Scott was a lot of fun.  Additionally, getting to know all of the other interns from Texas A&M, University of San Diego, University of Hawaii, Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University and other schools was great as well.  I want to especially thank Steven “Tak” Takekoshi, Crysti Woods, Dr. John Wood, Professor Robert Murrett, the Global Programs Coordinator at Maxwell, and Gerald B., and Daphna Cramer for their support during this experience.

Chris Tonsmeire completed his MAIR degree in December 2018.

Chris Tonsmeire in Hawaii

MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

Libby Kokemoor Receives Crash Course in Defense Strategy in Hawaii

In June 2018, I arrived on Oahu to begin my internship as a Summer Fellow at the headquarters of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, or USINDOPACOM. One of six geographic combatant commands under the Department of Defense, USINDOPACOM had recently assumed a new name (formerly, U.S. Pacific Command) as well as a new Commander, Admiral Phil Davidson, less than two weeks before I arrived. USINDOPACOM’s area of responsibility covers nearly half the earth’s surface and stretches from the west coast of the U.S. to the west coast of India, bringing with it a set of challenges as diverse as the region itself and encompassing several of America’s most steadfast allies. The dynamism of the Indo-Pacific was highlighted when my first week coincided with President Trump’s meeting with Kim Jong Un in Singapore.

As part of the Strategy and Policy branch, which develops strategy and plans for the command’s area of responsibility in accordance with national guidance such as the National Defense Strategy, I grappled with a new language – Department of Defense acronyms – but received support and encouragement, and a crash course in the Napoleonic military staff structure, from those around me. As a joint command, USINDOPACOM’s staff includes personnel from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps, as well as Department of Defense civilians, contractors, and liaison officers from other federal agencies, each bringing different perspectives to the work of the command.

One of the highlights of the summer was observing the 2018 Rim of the Pacific or RIMPAC exercise, the world’s largest international naval exercise, which takes place every two years in Honolulu. In addition to improving interoperability between forces of different countries (such as Vietnam, participating this year for the first time), RIMPAC is an opportunity for building international trust and cultural exchange. This was on full display during open ship tours, as vessels from the U.S., Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, India, the Philippines and other countries welcomed visitors aboard (with the Peruvian sailors offering samples of RIMPAC pisco aboard their ship!).

Working at USINDOPACOM throughout an eventful summer gave me an unparalleled opportunity to apply my academic work at Maxwell in national security and Asia-Pacific affairs to thorny strategic questions in a rapidly evolving environment – with just enough time to enjoy the beauty of Hawai’i as well.

Libby Kokemoor is a joint MPA/MAIR student in her final semester. She is also a Robertson Fellow. During her second Fall Semester, she also interned at the U.S. Department of State.

Libby Kokemoor in front of the naval hospital ship USNS Mercy during RIMPAC ship tours

MPA/MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

In Seoul, Jessica Kesler Complements Maxwell with Yonsei

I had the opportunity to study at Yonsei University, which is one of the top universities in South Korea. Yonsei University is one of many World Partner Partner Programs that Syracuse has within Asia. In Seoul, Syracuse also partners with Korea University,
which is known for its great academic reputation and rivalry with Yonsei. At Yonsei University, I took classes at the Graduate School of International Studies where there are many career tracks such as International Cooperation, International Trade, Finance, and Management, and Korean Studies.

Studying at Yonsei University was a great opportunity that has complemented the knowledge I gained at the Maxwell School. My desire to work in Southeast Asia or East Asia in the future was what initially ignited my attraction to studying abroad during graduate school. As I was analyzing my options, Yonsei University captured my attention considering the large amount of courses that are offered, specifically in English. I was easily able to find courses that related to my current career track and were of great interest to me. My coursework at Yonsei included Immigration and Integration, Corporate Finance, and Environment, Sustainability, and
Cooperation. My professors were very thoughtful and provided up to date information regarding current international issues that are relevant to course subjects.

Seoul’s greatest charm is there is always something to do, whether this is educational or recreational. Considering the size of the city, there are many seminars or events that are taking place across multiple universities. This, coupled with the convenience of transportation in the city, made it simple to keep my schedule filled with different events with diverse subjects such as North Korean human rights or the future of the environment. The city also has numerous activities to do, almost anything that you can think of such as board game rooms, ping pong clubs, PC rooms, diverse restaurants, and many great hiking trails. In short, it’s never difficult to find something to do in Seoul.

Jessica Kessler standing at the DMZ in South Korea with North Korea in the background

Overall, I am satisfied with my experience in South Korea. If there are others who are interested in the country or the region, I would definitely recommend this program. There are many people to meet, whether they are Korean or internationals students, and Yonsei provides a comprehensive experience in and outside of the classroom. Adding to this, the traditions within the country and the rapid advancement of the economy make my semester in Seoul memorable.

Jessica Kesler is a recent graduate of the MAIR program. She also interned at InterAction and Women for Women International in Washington, DC during her Summer Semester.

MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

Yonsei University, World Partner Program

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Samm Cadwell, Asia Society Policy Institute in New York City

For my summer 2018 semester, I interned in New York City at the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI), a small think-do tank that conducts research on economic, security, and environmental issues in the Asia-Indo-Pacific region. As one of four interns, my role was to support any research project any of the researchers or fellows were conducting. Throughout the summer I worked on short-term and long-term projects that included tracking countries or regions, compiling research, and writing memos, website blurbs, and heavily contributing to an article written by ASPI’s assistant director.One of my daily tasks was to track the current news coming out of Myanmar for the ASPI director. Ever week I provided her with a compiled list of the main news articles and summaries, and this work will help her as she pursues her future research. ASPI is beginning a new research project that looks at the evolving energy security and defense relationship between the Middle East and Asia. In order to help facilitate this new project, I spent several weeks conducting research and writing a memo about how the economic ties between the two regions have been evolving into security relations and how new sanctions on Iran and disputes between Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE might affect the energy supply to Asia.

The most important extensive task I worked on was the Pakistan elections that took place in July. Before the elections I was tasked to conduct research on the different parties running, the main issues of the election, the military establishment and media’s effect on elections, and possible election outcomes. After conducting this initial research I had to produce a memo summarizing and analyzing my findings for ASPI’s assistant director. Leading up to the election I also had to continuously track major developments on a day-to-day basis. After the elections, I had to do quick turnaround research on Imran Khan, and later was assigned to use my research and knowledge to help contribute to an article about Khan and his (tentative) plans for Pakistani domestic and foreign policy. The article I helped write will soon be published on the ASPI website, which is very exciting.

The experience I gained over this summer has been extraordinary. Interning at a small think tank, I have had the opportunity to work on a lot of extensive projects, and I was able to impact the work done at ASPI even from my position as an intern. Working at ASPI not only allowed me to apply my Maxwell education in the real world, but it helped to expand and refine on this skill set. It also reinforced the idea that this is the type of work I want to do after I graduate this coming December. I am ecstatic that I had this wonderful opportunity to meet and learn from so many amazing people, and I feel privileged to have had the chance to contribute to the work done at ASPI, even if it was only for a short time.

Samm Cadwell is a recent MAIR graduate who also studied at Tsinghua University, an SU World Partner program. She formerly lived in China and speaks advanced Mandarin. She’s looking to capitalize on her Asia expertise.

MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

Tsinghua University, World Partner Program

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Maxwell Programs in East Asia

The Maxwell School offers a variety of opportunities to study or work in East Asia. Through Syracuse University’s partnerships with foreign colleges and companies, students have the chance to live, work (and play) in some of the biggest cultural, political or business centers in the region. Funding to offset airfare and any changes in the cost of living are offered for all opportunities, and is quite generous in some instances.

Beijing. (nemomemini @Flickr)

The Beijing program is offered each fall. Syracuse University runs a center in Beijing in partnership with Tsinghua University, the most prestigious university in China. Tsinghua is located in Beijing’s Wudaokou neighborhood, a student area home to several universities. Maxwell students have the option of taking courses through the center – which offers SU courses taught by SU faculty – or taking graduate courses in English at Tsinghua’s School of Public Policy. Participants can enroll in courses across the social sciences, including Anthropology, Economics, History, Political Science and Public Administration, most of which are China-themed. On top of courses, part-time internships are also available for 1 to 3 credits. Past placements include Chinese NGOs, PR firms, the US Embassy in Beijing and various Chinese research organizations.

Singapore. (Copyright: Google)

The Singapore program is a summer internship program. As Singapore is one of Asia’s leading international business hubs, students typically work full-time at finance, business or trade-related organizations. Past placements have included US multinationals, TEMASEK (a Singapore sovereign wealth fund), and the American Chamber of Commerce. Maxwell students can take up to six credits – their internship and an independent study.

Seoul. (HR AN@Flickr)

The Maxwell School also offers fall programs at local universities in Seoul or Tokyo. Both programs offer a diverse set of social science courses, in an Asian context. In Seoul, graduate students take International Relations coursework in English at Yonsei University or Korea University. It is possible for students to intern while studying, but this program does not help with placement. Students interested in studying in Japan can do so at Waseda University’s Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies, located in downtown Tokyo. No Japanese language skills are required, but students must enroll in Japanese language courses while studying.

The Maxwell School’s List of Global Programs

SU Beijing

Singapore Summer Internship Program

World Partner Program in Seoul

World Partner Program in Tokyo