Development

Alejandro Turino, Learning International Development through Theory and Practice

Oxfam is a global organization working to end the injustice of poverty. They help people build better futures for themselves, hold the powerful accountable, and save lives in disasters.

The Pan American Development Foundation assists vulnerable and excluded people and communities in the Americas to achieve sustainable economic and social progress, strengthen their communities and civil society, promote democratic participation and inclusion, and prepare for and respond to natural disasters and other humanitarian crises.

This summer I interned with Oxfam and Pan American Development Foundation (PADF). Both organizations have taught me a lot, not only about international development, but more importantly, about work culture in Washington DC. Since starting my work, I have been offered networking opportunities I could have never imagined receiving in places other than DC. For example, since PADF is the development arm of the Organization of American States (OAS), I interacted with multiple diplomats and private sector personnel from across Latin America.

My work with Oxfam allowed me to meet numerous practitioners of international development, including top officials from some of the world’s best-known NGOs. Oxfam also opened my awareness towards the impact of development. My role as a research assistant allowed me to gain insight on how international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) operate both internally and externally in the quest to address global societal problems. I investigated how Oxfam and other organizations see their role within the international community, and what their views are on what these roles should be. The position allowed me to learn about the field of development on-the-job, which was extremely beneficial since I did not have a lot of experience in the industry beforehand.

As part of PADF, I assisted staff in conducting research, developing methodologies and communications products, and managing projects for our Caribbean programs. PADF offered a hands-on, multicultural environment where I gained practical program management and implementation skills and a collegial atmosphere of professionals dedicated to creating a hemisphere of opportunity for all.

Alejandro Turino at Oxfam America
Alejandro Turino at Oxfam America
MAIR Program at the Maxwell School
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Askar Salikhov Opens a Door to Fieldwork

For two months, I interned at the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Accra, Ghana. IOM is a UN-related agency that manages migration globally. Its mission is to promote safe and orderly migration that benefits all. Many of its responsibilities include assisting government agencies with border management, raising awareness about the dangers of irregular migration, combating human trafficking, helping migrants return to the country of origin, and other activities. The mission in Ghana focuses particularly on child trafficking in the Volta Lake, bringing back migrants stuck in Libya and Niger, and building resilience among communities against push and pull factors of irregular migration.

Representatives from the University of Ghana Center for Migration Studies meet with Syracuse University students
Representatives from the University of Ghana Center for Migration Studies meet with Syracuse University students to exchange information about ongoing project relating to migration in Ghana and Sub-Saharan Africa

During my internship, I’ve worked with two colleagues from Syracuse University, Esther Chung and Jingxuan Wang, on two major assignments relating to child trafficking and assisted voluntary return and reintegration. Our team worked with project managers and assistants to collect visibility materials from victims of trafficking and returnees. Our purpose was to take their experiences and produce engaging narratives that help inform parents and potential migrants about the dangers of child trafficking in the Volta Lake and irregular migration through the Mediterranean corridor. Additionally, we had the chance to take part in a youth and migration conference, income-generating brainstorm sessions with community leaders, and one-on-one meetings with academic partners at a local university.

From the beginning, my objectives were to get exposure to fieldwork activities, connect with practitioners within the milieu of migration and grow my network, learn new skills relating to project design, development, and implementation, and have a positive impact on the mission of IOM and its beneficiaries. I believe that my time with IOM has opened a door for me in development fieldwork, created lasting relationships with colleagues from all over the world, taught me the basics of project conceptualization, and left me with a sense of pride and accomplishment.

Askar Salikhov is a recent graduate of the MAIR program. He completed his degree in Washington, DC while interning for the U.S. Department of State. Askar was part of the last class to participate in the Survey of Current Issues in African Migration program, but IOM Ghana will still consider students as interns based off their experiences working with Maxwell students for a number of years.

Askar Salikhov, Jingxuan Wang, and Esther Chung pose for a photograph with project managers Akpene Amenumey and Victoria Klimova, project assistant Daniel Tagoe, and IOM intern Bowie Ko on the last day of the internship
SU Students Askar Salikhov (center), Jingxuan Wang (5th from L), and Esther Chung (6th from L) pose for a photograph with IOM project managers Akpene Amenumey (L) and Victoria Klimova (2nd from L), project assistant Daniel Tagoe (3rd from L), and IOM intern Bowie Ko (far R) on the last day of the internship
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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)
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Sybelle Rodriquez, A New Passion for Advocacy

This summer I was an intern at InterAction, a nonprofit organization that serves as a convener for the NGO community and as a space for collaboration and action. Focusing on policy, advocacy, development and humanitarian practice, InterAction contributes to advances in these fields internationally.

I was an intern in the public policy team. I focused on the budget and appropriations work where I followed the humanitarian assistance and development accounts of the Federal Budget. This experience has helped me understand the budget and appropriations process in more detail and the complexity behind it. Mostly I worked with InterAction’s foreign assistance budget expert, explored data visualizations, and gained a better understanding of nonprofit dynamics in the office.

This experience helped me to reaffirm my interest in international development and helped me discover a new passion for advocacy. There is value in educating and helping people communicate their own beliefs because it gives them the ability to act. In addition, I have gained an understanding about NGOs and how they work together to reach consensus and move forward. The opportunity to interact every day with many people with different backgrounds and expertise and learn from them is something that I will always be grateful for.

Sybelle Rodriguez at InterAction Forum 2018

My days at InterAction made me understand the importance of giving your best effort. Waking up every day thinking that your work can save lives is a great reason to give your best. While I was in Washington, DC working in an office, my work impacted the life of someone on the other side of the world and this was the biggest lesson InterAction gave me: it does not matter how small the task, the task matters.

While I still have a long way to go in my career, InterAction surely marked my journey as I continue to discover my path.

Sybelle Rodriguez is a joint MPA/MAIR student. She went on to intern at InterAction in the fall of 2018 as well, and she is now in Washington, DC interning at Search for Common Ground.

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Carol Tojeiro, Doing Business at World Bank

This summer I had the opportunity to join the Doing Business department at the World Bank. Doing Business is an annual flagship report which measures business regulation in 190 economies. Each economy is ranked according to 11 sets of indicators. There are combined into an overall “ease of doing business” ranking.

Read the Report: http://www.doingbusiness.org/en/reports/global-reports/doing-business-2019

I was part of the Registering Property indicator, where I worked with my team to measure the time, costs, and procedures needed to conduct a transfer of property between two local parties. We closely followed the Doing Business methodology, which you can read more about on http://www.doingbusiness.org/methodology.

Working in the Doing Business department was a truly rewarding experience. It did not only enhance my communication and analytical skills but also taught me about the strategies and components that go behind a ranking report. The working environment was also very international, which made me feel very welcome and taught me about other working cultures.

Carol Tojeiro at World Bank

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Carol Tojeiro Featured in Cornell Policy Review

Carol Tojeiro at the UN Migration Agency in Ghana

Jorge Valdebenito, Well Rounded Ed Through Study in China

I embarked on an adventure by spending my Fall Semester in Beijing, taking classes in the School of Public Policy and Management (SPPM), the #1 public policy school in China, at Tsinghua University, one of the most prestigious universities in the world. My class topics included Economics, Development, Governance and International Politics of China, and they were taught by Chinese policy makers and highly influential scholars. My peers in class were a mix of students from different backgrounds, countries and goals, which provided the perfect set up for a world class experience.

My first-hand knowledge in Latin America’s industrial sector complemented my learning about China’s industrial and trade policy, while my master’s study at Maxwell provided me with western economic practices, politics and relations. Therefore, my goal coming to Beijing was to complete a full circle in my academic and professional formation. There is a sea of difference between reading about China and experiencing it: experiencing the country, the culture, the people, the transportation, the day to day, and above all, the food.

Jorge at the “Birds Nest” in Beijing
Jorge on the Great Wall

Beijing is a mega city with more than 20 million people, and the city is connected to the rest of the country by an incredibly advanced and reliably fast train system. This system allows one to travel more than 1,000 miles in just a couple of hours to every corner of the Asian giant.

Jorge in Tianjin

The structure of the semester in Tsinghua allowed me to experience not only the capital, but other incredible parts of the country. I was impressed by the very modern city of Shanghai and the hard-contrasting differences between it and Beijing. As an economist, I was amazed by the development policy of the country, where, for example, in a small rural town called Liyang, located 3 hours to the west of Shanghai. An entire city is being built – “growing like grass” –  while thousands of 30+ floor towers are being built in every direction.

Jorge in front of the Bund in Shanghai

Language was definitely a challenge and a barrier to life in Beijing. However, the fast pace of internationalization of the city and of its people, makes it possible to find a piece of the world in any corner. You just need to look hard enough and pass though the massive pile of bikes parked all over the city.

Jorge with bikes in Beijing
Jorge in Tianjin
Jorge in Tianjin

Jorge Valdebenito is a joint MAIR/MAECN student in his final semester at the Maxwell School.

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Victoria Fanibi Works on Community Housing in Brazil

This summer, I was fortunate to intern at Catalytic Communities, an advocacy NGO and think-tank based in Rio de Janeiro. The organization runs a variety of programs, but my internship was primarily focused on the Community Land Trust initiative being headed by the organization’s Executive Director. Catalytic Communities is dedicated to formulating networks of discussion between the informal and formal settlements of Rio, community mobilization, and a participatory and asset-based model of development.

The core focus of my internship was on the Community Land Trust (CLT) Initiative, which is a community-managed nonprofit organization that is established to provide permanent affordable housing and build community assets. My main role on this project was to draft materials for our planned workshops in August and to do research on the diverse application of the CLT model. My research on CLT case studies and their diverse application was published in an article for the NGO’s sister organization,  “Rio on Watch” , which is a news source that profiles residents of informal settlements, informal settlement regularization efforts in Brazil, and local events in communities of interest. This research was imperative to my understanding of the applicability of the CLT model in Rio de Janeiro, as well as provided support for my education of other interns in my organization.

While I was mainly concerned with the development of the CLT Initiative in preparation for our August workshops, I was able to engage with interns completing a variety of projects. The most important of those being a study on evictions. I joined fellow interns on community visits to profile residents all over the city of Rio. These community visits were essential in helping me comprehend the effects of land speculation, post-Olympic development issues in Rio, and the failure of the government to provide essential services to its residents. In addition to these community visits, I attended community events. These community events were generally in the same communities that we profile or have the intent to profile. I emphasize these events as this enabled us as interns to see the residents of these informal settlements and strengthen our friendly relationships with them. It was also beneficial in simply getting to understand the culture of Rio.

At the very top of Santa Teresa. On my way to a community visit. Rio is a dense, complicated, and beautiful city

Lastly, I took the time to explore Rio’s sprawling natural landscape. I went on several hikes and, of course, visited the beach. It’s amazing to be laying on the beach in Leme staring at the waves and seeing people rappel on the Sugar Loaf Mountain in the same frame. I also went on a trip to Sao Paulo. The main intent on that trip was to, of course, enjoy myself but it provided an important comparative experience to the function and systems of Rio de Janeiro.

My time in Rio was truly amazing. I am so lucky to have been working for a great organization like Catalytic Communities. I am grateful to have been a witness to a variety of social issues in Rio including community militarization, gentrification, and land speculation. I walk away from this experience with a confidence in what I want to accomplish professionally, one that I didn’t have before.

Victoria Fanibi (back row, far right, red bandana) and Catalytic Communities’ crew visiting Barrinha on the third day of their CLT workshops in August

Victoria Fanibi is a graduate of Maxwell’s MAIR program. After completing her independent internship in Brazil, she finished her degree through Maxwell’s World Partner Program with Tsinghua University in Beijing.

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At World Vision-Ecuador, Valeria Urbina Cordano Applies Collaborative Governance

Valeria Urbina Urbina Cordano is a De-Sardon Glass Fellow working on the joint MPA/MAIR degree.

Between the months of June and August, I had the opportunity to do my internship at World Vision (WV) in Ecuador. My professional interest in social policies aimed to enhance the quality of life of vulnerable people, particularly in Latin America, motivated me to do an internship with this great NGO.

WV-Ecuador is a Non-profit Organization aimed at increasing the well-being and integral protection of children and youths in Ecuador. To achieve this, WV works with children and youths together with their families and communities to reach their full potential in the exercise of their rights and participation. It also works to promote their economic development.

As an intern, I worked within the Directorate of Integrated Ministry, the department in charge of implementing, monitoring, and evaluating their institutional programs and projects. In a context of organizational change, my responsibilities were twofold. First, I conducted research regarding the inter-institutional cooperation between WV and the public sector oriented towards recommending improvements to WV’s inter-institutional cooperation strategy. Second, I identified and assessed the most important causes of vulnerability in children and youths in order to diversify and increase the positive impacts of WV’s interventions.

Valeria Urbina Cordano conducting a focus group discussion with community leaders in Colta, Chimborazo Province, Ecuador.
Group Photo of the focus group with community leaders in Colta, Chimborazo Province, Ecuador.

I had the great opportunity to lead both endeavors. In this sense, I was in charge of activities such as setting goals, literature research, methodology design, tools’ development, coordination, data collection and systematization, as well as analysis and elaboration of the final report. I really enjoyed reviewing the literature and applying frameworks from my Maxwell courses, particularly, those related to Collaborative Governance.

Moreover, as part of this work, I visited two of WV’s Area Development Programs located in different regions (Colta which is in the highlands, and Santa Ana which is on the coast). There, I conducted interviews with WV’s personnel and partners from the local government. I was able to grasp the perspectives of decision-makers in charge of local policies in education, health, social development, among other areas.

Group Photo of the focus group with community leaders in Santa Ana, Manabí Province, Ecuador.

Furthermore, I conducted two focus groups with community leaders, who in the case of Colta belong to the Kichwa indigenous people. They inspired me. These extraordinary men and women work every day to achieve greater development in their communities. Despite the long distances typical of Ecuadorian rural areas, they attended and participated enthusiastically in the activity.

Valeria Urbina Cordano conducting an interview with the Major of the Municipality of Colta.

This experience was so meaningful for me. It allowed me to strengthen my methodological, analytical and interpersonal skills in a context of cultural diversity. Also, from my fieldwork, I learned more about issues of ‘collaborative governance’ from the current role of WV Ecuador. In this context, for instance, I could identify some challenges for promoting and developing this form of government effectively in Ecuador, Peru, and other Latin American countries. Finally, I met a great team and many people who deepened my passion for working on development policies in this region.

Valeria Urbina Cordano with the Directorate of Integrated Ministry’s team on her last day at work. From left to right, Top: Pamela Toro, Kelly Gonzales, Mabel Bustamante, Milena Olivares, Mares Sandoval, Gabriela Romero. Bottom: Ángel Cucurí, Valeria Urbina, Gabriela Benítez.
Valeria Urbina Cordano in the Historic Center of Quito, Ecuador.

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Giovanna Saccoccio, Showered with Kindness in Ghana

Giovanna Saccoccio came into the MAIR degree as a Fast Track student directly from Maxwell’s BA International Relations program.

During the summer of 2018, I interned at the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Accra, Ghana. The IOM is the UN agency dealing with issues related to migration, and its mission is to promote humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all.

Before going to Ghana, my main objectives were to gain field experience in a developing country, comparing the theories I have learned with the reality on the ground, and gaining exposure to the internal workings of a UN agency. My main goal was to understand whether I want to work in the development and/or humanitarian field. The projects I worked on helped me in this by letting me work with communities firsthand, which made me realize the impact I can have as a foreigner in local contexts.

Together with other Syracuse University students, I worked on projects related to child trafficking in the Volta Region of Ghana and on assisted voluntary return and reintegration of Ghanaians who have returned from countries such as Libya and Algeria.

Giovanna (far right, facing away) assisting community members with questionnaires about possible initiatives to better their community

It was sometimes challenging to deal with the reality on the ground, lack of information and strong language barriers. Still, I was happy to be exposed to the field and the professional and personal challenges that come with it. Altogether, these experiences allowed me to understand various issues related to the migration, and how to best interact with people affected by them.

Maxwell students (Lindzi Ngati left, Giovanna Saccoccio center, and Sunil Casuba) plus SU student Tran Khang. (center, back) with IOM staff on a break from focus groups with returnees and community leaders.

“While the rest of the world has been improving technology, Ghana has been improving the quality of man’s humanity to man.”

These words from Maya Angelou rang true throughout my stay in Ghana. I was showered with kindness and friendliness everywhere I went. Most of all, despite all the issues still afflicting the country, it was fascinating to witness the peace and coexistence in such a culturally and religiously diverse country.

Giovanna with a community member

The two months I spent in Ghana allowed me to expand my worldview and my interests. I had never been to Africa before, and I did not know much about African history. I also did not have a background in migration, and the information I had was filtered through a Western and often-conservative lens. As an Italian who is surrounded everyday by talk about migration, it was important for me to compare media and politicians’ rhetoric with the reality on the ground. This experience helped me dispel all the stereotypes I was brought up with, and I have been active in sharing my experiences with people in Italy and the US.

Students had the chance to travel during the weekend. Giovanna at the Wli Falls, the highest waterfall in West Africa

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

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

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

From left to right: Lindzzi Ngati in a locally made dress, and SU students Sunil Casuba, Giovanna Saccoccio, and Khang Tran standing outside of the IOM Ghana office

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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