Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Hello from Lausanne, Switzerland!


It is day two of my first international conference and it has already been an interesting and productive experience. Mostly it is nice to be at a conference where Americans are really in the minority, it is one thing to surmise what 'The other' thinks. Sometimes I worry that some subtleties of insights get lost in translation but on the whole even though many of the ideas seem similar to those already debated in the US (the need for participation etc.) it seems important that they get applied, analyzed and presented by people from the country even if they come to the same conclusion. Overall there has been a strong message of the need to deal with the ethics of development, power relations (who is the tech for and why?) and accountability.

On a personal level I have made some preliminary contacts with people who will be in Washington, DC that I am excited about and I have several people that I would like to talk to about opportunities for myself or SPIA. Some organizations and initiatives that have interested me so far are TechChange, FarmRadio, CITEGO, MAPS climate adaptation scenarios, UNESCO Future Earth, and two programs offered by EPFL this fall on development project management and disaster response - both involve long distance learning, field work in India, and then a personal project.

More thoughts later.....

- MacKenzie Rawcliffe

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

ICTS Week 2

Greetings, Everyone!

       I delayed my posting until today because I intended to write about my experience listening to President Obama speak yesterday at the Vietnam Memorial. However, due to the extremely warm weather (and humidity) and my inability to adjust from the cooler weather in Maine, I did not manage to stay in line long enough.
      With that in mind, I will discuss the events of my second week at the Potomac Institute's International Center for Terrorism studies. As mentioned previously, I have been assigned the responsibility of following the latest news regarding any and all threats directed at the 2012 Olympic games. In addition to this research, I have also been assigned with the task of helping prepare Prof. Alexander for an upcoming trip to Kyrgyzstan in which he will provide an in-depth presentation regarding terrorism in Central Asia. This summit will attempt to highlight both the improvements and the problems associated with central Asia's attempt at thwarting terrorism and the narcotics based industry that helps finance these activities. My responsibility requires covering all of the basics for travel, including contacting the U.S Embassy in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in order to ensure that all of the appropriate documentation is covered. In addition, the research team and myself have each been assigned a country in central Asia in which we are asked to research the respective country's history of dealing with terrorism and their approach to combating the issue. I was given the task of researching the history of terrorism in Afghanistan, which, we all know is very rich and spans many years. Thankfully, due to the alotted time given to the Professor for his presentation, I am focusing on the period of terrorism following the Soviet withdrawal, the creation of the Taliban and the harboring of al-Qa'ida leading up to the events of 9/11.
     Aside from these two projects that will undoubtedly keep me busy over the coming weeks, I have also been assigned the responsibility of helping two new interns that have recently arrived. For much of last week, I spent a considerable amount of time showing the new interns reputable sources and reliable databases that provide up to date infomration regarding terrorist activities. I have also spent time informing them on the recent terrorist networks that are plaguing the world (most notably Boko Hiram in Nigeria) and the responses (or lack thereof) by government and international organizations.
      To conclude this post, I have been extremely busy surrounding myself with a topic that I am extremely passionate about. Although the days are sometimes long, they are certainly eventful and never dull. I will keep you posted regarding the research projects and any other assignment I am asked to do. Another priviledge being in Arlington, VA was the ability to visit the Arlington Cemetary for Memorial Day. Words cannot adequately describe the sobering feeling and the appreciation one has when they visit such a place. It is even more memorable given the fact that I have recently learned of the passing of an individual who I spent a great deal of time around in elementary school and to a lesser extent in college. The passing of Capt. John "Jay" Brainard on Monday as the result of a helicopter crash certainly highlights the sacrfices that are made in this 'War on Terror' and it certainly hardens my resolve to continue to do my part (albeit a very small one in comparison to those who are actively out there on the battlefield).

                                                                                                                       My Regards,

                                                                                                                       Eric Bailey

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dadaab Refugee Camps Internship


Hello Everyone,
I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to introduce myself prior to my departure to Kenya, but my name is Muna Abdullahi and I am a 2nd year SPIA student (totally excited). My internship is based in Kenya. I am currently in Nairobi and have been here for the last few days. Presently, I am residing in a town called Eastleigh (pronounced by many Somalis as Islee). A town predominately consisting of Somalis I believe about 80-95% of the population are ethnic Somalis. Driving to the town was a very unique experience. I am reminded of a comment Jim once made in class about how the drivers in Naples, Italy are by far the worst but the cab ride I experienced was extremely frightful. There are no street signs, or traffic lights. The drivers are left to their own discretion and guidance. I almost got into 3 accidents and hit close to 6 people on the drive to the hotel. When I asked the cab driver to slow down he simply turned around and laughed at me, and this almost led to another accident. A result being, complete silence until I arrived at my destination.
The town is extremely impoverished, over-crowded, infested, and beleaguered by a horrible odor. The streets are narrow and very muddy. It rains very heavily here and the pot holes are over-filled with water and because there is a lack of waste management system streams of water floods the streets with human stool. I tried to remain cautious as I walked through the streets, maintaining my eyes solely on the ground. However, my poor attempt to watch out for countless feces and other waste material almost led to getting robbed by a 13 year boy who tried to steal my purse and the camera in my hand.  I soon learned to keep my eyes and head up regardless of the material on the ground I am stepping on. I know this sounds pretty gross but my life is too important.
All the women here have their faces covered. I didn’t find this unusual but I think it’s important to note because sexual based violence and the night raids are common. I believe that is too hot to have my face covered here. Although I would argue that it provides great protection against the heinous stench plaguing the air. It is very overwhelming being here because people are constantly walking towards me with their hands out, begging for money. I hope I don’t become poor soon. Men are working in very dangerous conditions with very little supervision or guidance. There are currently two large construction projects taking place in the town and I’ve been watching the men as they work with very little material (very unsafe conditions). The streets are filled with women just lying in the mud because they have nowhere else to go. For about five minutes yesterday I watched a man dig into the trash. I was very determined to learn what he was looking for then my cab arrived and I had to leave. When I returned about 50 minutes later I saw the same man eating pasta that he had clearly taken out of the trash. I am deepened with grief because these are truly the forgotten people. The government has abandoned them and they continue to struggle each and every day to live a little above the subsistence level. Unfortunately, some continue to remain trapped and will possibility never see the light at the end of the tunnel. But on the positive note, the town somewhat reminds me of China town except for being 10x dirtier but people here are all about the hustle, making money then going home. There are no and, ifs or buts. It’s either you do it or you starve kind of mentality. The part that mainly reminds me of China town is the long streets of vendors and the aggressive selling of products. I’m not sure if the mentality is the same. People are also very humble which is very refreshing and uplifting. It’s nice to know that their situation does not define who they are. It’s nice to not hear about first world problems for a change. 

I also ended up meeting a ton of family members that reside in this town. I was a bit distraught by this fact at first but I am quickly coming to terms with it. My grandmother whose front yard is a waste field is a very humble, generous and sweet old woman. I spent hours discussing my research with her and she even made several arrangements for me while in the camps. 

 Tomorrow I make a very long journey about 10 hours to the camps to start my research. I am extremely excited and a bit nervous. I feel more comfortable now than I did back in the states because I’ve been hour’s mentality preparing and talking to family members. 

Also, I forgot to mention this but I lived in this town as a little girl before coming to the U.S. I tried to attach a video and some pictures but the signal is too weak. I'll try again soon but its 1am here so I'm head of to bed for the night. 

I hope everyone is well and happy,
Best regards,
Muna

Sunday, May 20, 2012

ICTS Week 1


Greetings, everyone.

      In what felt like a 30 second commercial, I have concluded the first week of my internship at the Potomac Institute's International Center for Terrorism studies. As part of the initiation process, I was assigned the task of monitoring the latest news regarding any and all forms of terrorism occurring throughout the world. On a daily basis, I spent all hours of the work day covering different sources (all open sources) in search of the latest developments concerning the topic of terrorism and counter-terrorism measures used to thwart a potential attack. These topics ranged from narcotics based terrorism in Mexico, the presence of Al-Qa'ida and other militant groups in Syria, piracy along the coast of Africa, to homegrown (or foreign affinity) terrorism residing within the borders of the United States.
     As a well-informed student on the topic of terrorism (or so I thought), I was astonished to find just how prevelant it is. While we constantly hear about the threat of terrorism to national security, the number of instances in which terrorism occurs daily throughout the world is mind-boggling. To help illustrate this point, I was tasked with updating the ICTS website (in partnership witht the Inter-University Study on Terrorism) regarding these instances and the results can be viewed at iucts.org. Although this website has not been formally launched, one can still access it in order to be briefed on the current issues surrounding terrorism for any particular day. As a news website that is updated on a daily basis, those interested in terrorism related matters can find a cache of new and old information that is easily accessible and easy to read.
    Starting tomorrow (May 21), I have been assigned to a team labeled "the London Project." Although I can not get into too much detail regarding the research (it is not classified, but I am under a contractual agreement regarding publication), I can tell you that a bulk of my time in Arlington will deal with assessing and providing an analysis on the threats posed by terrorism at this year's Olympic games in London. This research will also look into the counter terrorism strategies adopted by a coalition of forces that include the FBI in partnership with UK intelligence in hopes of preventing any scenario resembling the 72' Munich games or the 1996 Olympic games in Atlanta. While a great deal of time and research must be taken into consideration when trying to assess the number of potential threats that exist at this year's games, I look forward to the upcoming week and I will share my experiences when this week has concluded. Again, if you have any questions, please feel free to write and I will be more than happy to reply. 

the website is: iucts.org and click on the "Daily Weather" for current news regarding terrorism.


                                                                                                           My Regards,

                                                                                                           Eric Bailey

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

MacKenzie Rawcliffe - African Center for Strategic Studies

Hello,

Graduation Day: Masters in Public Administration down
and just an internship credit this summer holding me back
from a Masters in Global Policy.
My name is MacKenzie Rawcliffe and I will be graduating this summer after completing my internship at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (http://africacenter.org/). ACSS is "the pre-eminent Department of Defense organization is for strategic security studies, research and outreach in Africa."(from their website). It is located on the National Defense University campus at Fort McNair in Washington DC and does research that supports the curriculum of NDU, informs the State Department and Department of Defense and also they organize educational leadership networks and training conferences all over Africa.

I will be assisting in the ACSS Research Department under Mr. Davin O'Regan and Dr. Joseph Siegle to support the ongoing mission of the center. At first, I will be working on some of the research already underway and then once I have a handle on the process and standards I will develop my own research plan that suits my interests (probably something related to environmental resources or female leadership in Africa but I am very open to suggestions at this point).

I am very excited about this opportunity, not only for the chance to focus professionally on an area of my choice, but also because ACSS goes above and beyond to provide interns with opportunities to network and attend lectures. I truly hope and expect this experience will help me get a long term position of consequence in Washington DC. My internship does not start until June 18th, because before that I am studying french and attending this conference in Switzerland (http://cooperation.epfl.ch/2012Tech4Dev). Check it out and recommend lectures you think I should go to...they all look great to me!


Ian Henderson-Ibn Khaldun Center

Hello all.  My name is Ian Henderson and I am a 2nd year student here at SPIA. I am fortunate enough to be heading to Cairo, Egypt this summer. My internship will be at the Ibn Khaldun Center. The Center focuses on reform in the Arab world.  it does research on topics such as Arab democracy, women's rights, and free and fair elections.  While I don't have a specific research area that I will be involved in at this point, it will be an amazing academic and professional opportunity to work on any project related to what Ibn Khaldun already does.  It will also allow me to look at Arab reform from a truly Arab perspective, which in and of itself will be a unique opportunity.  Additionally, the Egyptian presidential elections will be taking place during my stay so I will be fortunate enough to get a first hand look at the onset of Egypt's newly democratic government it promises to be an incredible experience. now a little about how I got here
I began the process of looking for an opportunity last fall. After several unsuccessful attempts at finding a placementIi was fortunate enough to to be put in touch with people at Ibn Khaldun.  They were more than helpful in making this opportunity happen for me.  I am grateful for the help I have gotten from everyone involved in getting on my way to Cairo.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Kate Kirby - Mercy Corps


Hello and welcome to my summer blog! 

I will be traveling to Timor-Leste to intern with Mercy Corps, an international NGO aimed at "alleviating suffering, poverty and oppression by helping people build secure, productive and just communities." As a graduate student in international environmental policy and sustainable community development, my summer internship will be to examine aquaculture in Timor-Leste and assess the potential impact of inland fisheries projects on increasing food security.

One of the poorest countries in Asia, it is estimated that more than 40% of the population of Timor-Leste lives below the poverty line—earning less than US$ 0.55 per day (adjusted to purchasing power parity). The low household income levels together with poor access to electricity, health services, safe water and education make poverty in Timor-Leste a major destabilizing force in the country. Despite all of the setbacks exacerbated by a brutal 25-year occupation, Timor-Leste is ripe for regrowth.

I am honored to have the opportunity to work alongside the Timorese people this summer. 

The adventure commences June 3rd; stay tuned for updates!


Kate 

Kati Libby


Hello!  I am a second year student in the M.A. in Global Policy program at the University of Maine.  This summer, I will be teaching English to college students who are studying elementary education.  I will complete my TESOL certification in June and I will teach abroad from July 15-August 4.  The teaching will be in small group and one-on-one sessions.  There is a group of nine other teachers and volunteers from the Bangor area who will also be teaching in shifts throughout the summer.  The group is organized by Old Town and Bangor Adult Education.

I plan to pursue my PhD and teach at the university level after completion of my M.A. in Global Policy so I am eager to gain more teaching experience.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Eric Bailey - International Center for Terrorism Studies


Hello, my name is Eric Bailey and this summer I will be interning at the Potomac Institute’s International Center for Terrorism Studies.  The Potomac Institute is a not-for profit, non-governmental agency that seeks to better understand the complex nature of terrorism by engaging in extensive research. In addition to research, the Potomac Institute emphasizes the need to inform both the general public and those on Capitol Hill regarding current trends associated with a given terrorist organization. Beginning tomorrow (May 14, 2012), I will be given the responsibility of researching and analyzing the continual threats emanating from a number of terrorist organizations in existence today. While the bulk of this internship will likely focus on the threats posed by Al-Qa’ida and other Islamic organizations that threaten U.S interests both domestically and abroad, I will also be tasked with the opportunity to research and carefully monitor a topic of my choosing. With this in mind and after careful consideration regarding the many avenues of terrorism to further explore, I will spend a significant amount of time focusing on the narcotics based terrorism that is occurring in Mexico. With today's discovery of roughly 40 mutilated bodies in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon (just 80 miles south of the U.S border) and in a country that has already experienced roughly 28,000 - 40,000 deaths since 2006, the urgency to further understand the nature of this violence and to find a potential solution is paramount.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sara Randall - Island Institute

Hi, my name is Sara Randall and I am headed to Rockland, Maine where I will be working at the non-profit Island Institute.    The internship is part of the DeepCwind Consortium. The DeepCwind Consortium's mission is to establish  Maine as a  leader in deep water offshore wind technology. The University of Maine-led consortium includes universities, non-profits, and utilities; a wide range of industry leaders in offshore design, offshore construction, and marine structures manufacturing; firms with expertise in wind project siting, environmental analysis, environmental law, composites materials to assist in corrosion-resistant material design and selection, and energy investment; and industry organizations to assist with education and tech transfer activities. 

The development of offshore wind energy is crucial to fighting climate change. Climate change is caused by the release of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and aerosols.  Since the Industrial Revolution, humans have added significant amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests (US EPA 2012).  Greenhouse gases absorb and emit heat so the increase of their concentrations in the atmosphere has a warming effect (US EPA 2012). Impacts from the increased greenhouse gas concentrations will raise the earth's average temperature, influence precipitation and storm patterns, and raise sea levels (IPCC 2007).

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Welcome!


Welcome to the School of Policy and International Affairs (SPIA) internship blog!  Over the course of the next several months, M.A. in Global Policy candidates from the University of Maine will travel to a variety of destinations around the globe to participate in a summer internship, the premier SPIA capstone experience.  Internships provide students a forum to integrate their curricular studies in a “real-world,” professional environment.  In addition, internships expose students to post-graduate career opportunities while developing valuable skills, establishing professional contacts, and further developing their resumes.  And, for those traveling to another country, internships are a great way to strengthen a student’s foreign language proficiency.

SPIA students will intern this summer in Chile, Egypt, Kenya, East Timor, and Washington, DC.  They represent different socioeconomic and political backgrounds, and each will bring diverse interests and expertise to their field, which will become apparent as they chronicle their personal perspectives and experiences on this blog.  As a group, they welcome others who are passionate about important global issues to engage in an informed, critical, and respectful dialogue.

Finally, we are extremely grateful to have received financial support from the Daniel and Betty Churchill Internship Fund, the Peter T. Madigan Internship Fund, and the Penelope S. Wolfe Fund, without which many of these experiences may not have been possible.