Archive for Student Accomplishments
Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016
For spring 2016, a total of 61 Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey students will participate in our distinguished semester long immersive learning programs, to be placed around the country and the globe. Domestically, students are as close as the San Francisco Bay area and as far away as Washington, D.C. Internationally, they are spread across five continents.
Programs include the International Professional Service Semester (IPSS), the International Organizations and Nonproliferation Program (IONP), DPMI Plus, the International Education Management (IEM) Practicum , the Student Exchange Program, and the Frontier Market Scouts (FMS) Program.
Below is a list of current participants, their organizations, and their locations.
|Shen Li||WTO||Geneva, Switzerland|
|Melis Okter||CA Sea Grant: Coastal Commission||San Francisco, CA|
|Jennifer Adams||State Dept. ASST SEC, OCEANS & INT L ENVIR & SCI AFFS and Montery Bay Aquarium Policy Division||Washington, D.C.|
|Emma Tonge||NOAA||Oakland, CA|
|Mairi MacEachern||UNGC Network office||Toronto, Canada|
|Whitney Berry||IUCN||Geneva, Switzerland|
|Zachary Foco||FAO||Rome, Italy|
|Marina Binsack||San Francisco Bay Joint Venture||Sacramento, CA|
|Sophia Kirschenman||Conservation International Social Policy and Practice Division||Washington, D.C.|
|Thomas Stagg||NOLS Patagonia||Chile|
|Jamie Stanton||UNIDIR||Geneva, Switzerland|
|Elin Orre||UNODA CAB||New York, NY|
|Hussain Alhowaidi||UN Office at Geneva: Biological Weapons Convention Implementation Support Unit||Geneva, Switzerland|
|Margaret Coleman||US State Bureau of Human Rights, Democracy, and
|Daniel Pavitt||Conservation International Peace and Development Partnerships||Washington, D.C.|
|Miranda Salinas||Alliance for Peacebuilding||Washington, D.C.|
|Li Ma||Stimson Center||Washington, D.C.|
|Kathleen Lucitt||IRS Criminal Investigations Branch (International Operations division)||Washington, D.C.|
|Stephanie Gentle||IUCN SEE||Belgrade, Serbia|
|Jenny Cho||Council on Foreign Relations||Washington, D.C.|
|Phil Goldstein||Department of Defense/Pentagon||Washington, D.C.|
|Emily Summerlin||San Francisco Business Council on Climate Change||San Francisco, CA|
|Hussein Alhowaidi||United Nations
Implementation Support Unit of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (BWC)
|Geraldine Mande||United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs (UNODA)||New York, NY|
|Satomi Tamura||United Nations Conference on Disarmament (CD)||Geneva, Switzerland|
|Irene Yu||Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO)||Vienna, Austria|
|Judie Henderson||Rwandan Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI)||Rwanda|
|Laura Preston||Peace Corps||Cameroon|
|Madison Shepard||SHE-CAN||Mill Valley, CA|
|Sophie Dresser||OneVillage Partners||Sierra Leone|
|Jeanine Willig||Social Impact||Washington, D.C.|
|Alina Aslanian||International Organization for Migration||Bangkok, Thailand|
|Sonia Esquibel||Catholic Relief Services||Zambia|
|Karla Gregorio||Program Fellow||Oakland, CA|
|Susan Asselin||Peace Corps||Senegal|
|Alcide Guillory III||GSIPM Immersive Learning Team||Monterey, CA|
|Julia Meli||International Organization for Migration or Search for Common Ground||Middle East and North Africa|
|Tom Ford||Peace Corps||Nicaragua|
|Kaela Conroy||Brown University – Office of International Programs||Providence, RI|
|Tessa Fancher||Middlebury College||Middlebury, VT|
|Maria Gleason-Maddox||University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Center for Global Education||Madison, WI|
|Michelle Gloster||PLUS Education U.S. Corp||USA|
|Talia Gottlieb||Pearson College UWC||Canada|
|Emily Greenblatt||Intercultural Communication Institute||Portland|
|Alcide Guillory III||GSIPM Immersive Learning Team||Monterey, CA|
|Courtney Jackson||American International Recruitment Council (AIRC)||Bethesda, MD|
|Sydney McLoughlin||To be determined|
|Peter Seilheimer||California State University at Monterey Bay||Monterey, CA|
|Abbey Wallace||CIEE||Portland, ME|
|Jordan Fernandez||Middlebury Schools Abroad||Amman, Jordan|
|Janet Addoh||Middlebury Schools Abroad||Madrid, Spain|
|Eli Hatch||Waseda University||Tokyo, Japan|
|Julianne Scott||Pulsera Project||Granada, Nicaragua|
|Tony Chow||To be determined|
|Angelina Skowronski||To be determined|
|Ben Grimmig||To be determined|
|Clover van Steenberghe||To be determined|
|Kenji Tabery||To be determined|
|Nenneya Shields||To be determined|
|Sherry Sybertz||To be determined|
Best of luck to all of you!!!
Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015
Connecticut College graduate, Pablo Tutillo, has spent much of his time traveling in the last several years. Born in Ecuador, he graduated from Connecticut College in 2013 and has spent time working and/or studying in places such as Turkey, Egypt, and Brazil. He was recently named one of 30 recipients of the prestigious Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellowship, awarded to college graduates interested in foreign affairs.
The fellowship provides up to $95,000 over two years for a master’s degree and arranges for internships on Capitol Hill or in U.S. Embassies.
Pablo will be attending the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey this fall with dreams of becoming a diplomat.
The MIIS community looks forward to welcoming Pablo! More can be read about him and his previous work here.
Thursday, June 18th, 2015
MIIS Center for the Blue Economy fellow gets surprise visit from MIIS staff at Nairobi UNEP Headquarters
On the day of my departure from Nairobi, I ventured to the Gigiri neighborhood of Nairobi to visit the 140 acre United Nations Office in Nairobi (UNON). The complex houses over 20 UN offices including the headquarters for the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat). Both UNEP and UN-Habitat headquarters were established in Nairobi in the late 1970s.
After you pass through UNON security you are greeted by a beautiful winding walking path lined with international flags ending at life-size bronze elephants and 10 meter high “KaribuUN” letters. The compound offers the chance of observing local wildlife such as red duikers, squirrels, marsh mongoose, vervet monkeys and olive baboons.
As I toured the conference center, I made my way to the new UNEP offices to visit our unsuspecting Center for the Blue Economy Fellow, Emma Tonge, currently serving as an intern on the Marine Litter Project. Emma follows in the footsteps of 2015 CBE fellow, Kelsey Richardson (IEP ’05) whose summer 2014 UNEP Marine Litter Project research is now being used in two published UNEP reports including: “Valuing Plastics: The Business Case for Measuring, Managing and Disclosing Plastic Use in the Consumer Goods Industry” and a second report on the use of microplastics in personal care and cosmetics products. Kelsey is now serving as a MIIS International Professional Service Semester (IPSS) fellow at the Secretariat of Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) in Apia, Samoa.
Click here to read more
Thursday, June 18th, 2015
It was my first year working at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS) at Monterey when I met MIIS IPS ’06 alumnus Jonah Leff. He was studying the effects of conventional and small arms violence under the tutelage of MIIS professor Edward Laurance, a pioneer in the field of small arms and light weapons trade treaties and research. Jonah was also a fellow serving an internship at the United Nations Office for Disarmament Research (UNODA) through the MIIS International Professional Service Semester (IPSS) program. The IPSS program is designed to help students jump-start their careers through junior-level internships in their field during their final semester of graduate schoo.
Jonah currently serves as Director of Operations at Conflict Armament Research and is based out of Nairobi, Kenya (where we recently met). It’s been wonderful reconnecting with Jonah over the years and to see the MIIS and Middlebury College students he has supported in entering the important field of preventing armed violence.
Click here to read more
Monday, May 4th, 2015
Presentations at Irvine Auditorium this Thursday, May 7th, 6:30-8:30pm, Reception 8:30-9:30pm!
The students that went on the first ever two-country program through MIIS Immersive Learning Programs, the East Asia: China and Japan trip, will be presenting this Thursday at Irvine, with a wine and hors d’oeuvres reception to follow. The presentations will be very interesting as this program included a semester long seminar which concluded in robust papers, and the feedback from the journey has been very interesting!
The East Asia Practicum was an investigative tour of Tokyo, Japan and Beijing, China, where participants met with and interviewed policymakers, former politicians, and renowned scholars. With unique research topics looking into the the international relations of the region, students were able to seek first-hand information on the dynamics of the two major players: Japan and China. The rise in status of either nation will set the political and economic tone for the region. By experiencing and researching within each nation, students will be able to provide original ideas on the current state of Sino-Japanese relations and the future of region.
Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/466841256799447/
Monday, April 27th, 2015
I sat down with Maritza Munzón (MPA/IEM ’15), and Rafael Hernandez (MPA ’15) at a local coffee shop last week to interview them about MIIS’s Immersive Learning Programs. Maritza has traveled on five trips to six countries through MIIS (Peru, Cuba, Kenya, Mindanao, and East Asia), and Rafael has gone to four (Peru, Cuba, Rwanda, and East Asia). Both had a lot to say, much more than I can fit into this interview; I can’t encourage you enough to talk with your peers about their experiences abroad.
Q: What made you choose the immersive learning programs you chose?
Maritza: For me it’s always about “why not?” It is always a question of “if I don’t go, will I regret it?” And the answer is almost always “Yes”. So I do everything I can to take advantage of the opportunity to travel. Furthermore, because I am in the IEM degree program and want to conduct these trips myself one day, the best way to learn how to do this is to go on as many as I can!
Rafael: I was eager to begin traveling right away when I got here. That was the reason I picked this school over many other options – the traveling component. Right off the bat I could go on this Peru trip, that had a practical application of policy analysis, – and so I went.
M: I don’t think many people have traveled the way we travel here at MIIS.
There is only so much reading you can do about culture, practice, and so on, but you need to embed it in your muscle memory to learn and understand.
Q: Have you gone on any trips together?
Both went to Peru (but in different communities), as well as Cuba, and East Asia.
M: Peru started my obsession with these trips; the experience got my feet wet and then I wasn’t scared, anymore, to do the others.
Q: Are there any programs you especially wish you could have gone on?
R: I would have liked to go to the Philippines.
M: I would have done the El Salvador trip if I had the time. But I am always torn between what is familiar and what is less accessible. El Salvador is within my reach because of language, so I decided to take the leap and go on trips that I was less likely to do on my own: Kenya, East Asia, and the Philippines.
Q: How did the programs and learning styles compare?
Both: Cuba was more like learning tourism, while Peru and East Asia where more research based: we did academic research in Asia, and field research in Peru.
M: I was a guinea pig for many of the trips – for example: Kenya, Peru, and East Asia. Cuba was established. Being on a program in its first incarnation is a valuable experience for someone learning about how these programs are conducted.
R: I learned a lot about different types of intelligence and understanding. You know there is the computer competency type, where you either know it or you don’t. And if you don’t, you can ask help from someone who does – and there are no ego problems associated with that. Cultural competency, on the other hand, and especially at this school, is more complicated in that way. Then there is emotional intelligence (EQ) versus the IQ. When you go to speak to someone in a village, everyone on these trips is so concerned about being politically correct, which makes them all self-conscious. I found that the best way to take to people is honestly and openly.
Q: Since you have gone on so many of these programs, do you have any constructive feedback?
R: Like I said, these trips are one of the reasons why I chose this school. And we are so grateful for these experiences.
M: Growing up the way I did, I would have never been able to do this on my own. And I am grateful, and the best way I can give back is by applying my IEM knowledge and skills and giving constructive feedback. I was able to design a pre-departure training for the Peru trip, which was very well received, but not yet implemented. Based on our experience in Peru, Cortney Copeland and I designed a pre-departure workshop and assessment for that trip through our IEM Design and Assessment Class. In the workshop we wanted students to bond with the people in their groups, learn each other’s working styles and strength, while also getting to practice giving the surveys and entering the data. There are always hiccups with international travel and our goal was to develop cohesive groups before departure to help student better work through some of those unpredictable moments. The assessment consisted of a simple survey that students took before and after the trip to better inform staff and faculty of what is working and what needs improvement.
One of my frustrations with the organization of these trips is that the system that puts these trips together does not value the experience that the students going already have. Because the information isn’t coming from a respected magazine or periodical, but from the mouth of a student, who has had the personal experience or cultural experience growing up – but they didn’t write a paper on it, so…. We don’t get a diploma for growing up bilingual or for living similar lives to that of the people we are studying.
R: So if professors and institutions have a way, for better or worse, of validating those experiences, for example, “here is Maritza, she grew up in a culture that…..” and by doing that, it validates the person, and symbolically validates the peers that have experienced this. People come back like “I was shocked to see this and that”, and that is the only thing that gets the spotlight. But there are people who have lived this their whole lives.
M: Out of the bad comes the good. MIIS is proud of its international diversity on campus, but now there are also conversation on national diversity and socioeconomic diversity as well, which is something that came out of a critique on one of these trips. We go on these trips, and learn, and some things are difficult, but the important thing is to take the bad with the good and make something out of it. For some of us, that meant creating the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, which highlights domestic diversity on campus and is working on assessing the needs of all students, whether international students, first generation college students, student of color, LGBTQ, or second career seekers. We not only wanted to address diversity by identifying the needs of all students on campus but to make sure it is something that continues to be addressed in the institution after we are gone.
Professors should also make a point to make focus groups mandatory. A format of how to measure the trips as a whole, but also each trip individually, so it can be improved upon, but that responsibility also shouldn’t sit solely on the professor’s shoulders.
Q: Any advice for students who will travel on these programs in the future?
M: Some things you can’t prepare for. Keep an open mind, don’t sweat the small stuff. Like dirt, bugs-
R: – and cold showers –
M: – and so on because it distracts from the experience. Don’t fight the discomfort.
R: You don’t need language to communicate with people. You shouldn’t necessarily know a language perfectly – keep the willingness to go at the forefront. Don’t be catered to: we chose to go, to help. Be the one helping, not the helped. Own your decision to go.
Language should not be a barrier to communicating with people. In fact, I learned from my inability to speak the local language, which became a resource of information, connection, and interaction. When I ask you, “how do you say this?”, I become your student and switch the power dynamic. People love to teach you, to speak from authority. There is laughter, and it breaks the ice and opens new things. They think, “Here is a person who wants to know my language.” It helps equalizing the playing field.
Q: Is there something you never travel without?
M: I carry medicine for altitude sickness, headache, nausea, diarrhea, congestion, and allergies; but I also carry hydration salts and EmergenC to try and prevent getting sick as well. You never know how sick you are going to get and might not be able to get to a pharmacy right away or be able to communicate what you need so its good to carry some meds you trust. Oh! and Baby wipes.
R: Baby wipes! Pen and notepad.
*shows us his pen and notepad, which, sure enough, are in his back pocket*
M: That’s what I picked up, now I’ll do that.
R: I like to record sounds from the trips, it brings you back. *plays recording*
M: Learn how to say a greeting, and please and thank you in the local language.
R: So important!
Katya Gamolsky (joint BA/MA ‘17) is a first year student who works for the Immersive Learning Programs Office. She recently went on the Los Angeles trip that focused on Homelessness, with Dr Iyer, and will be attending DPMI DC this summer. If you have any questions, comments, or would like to know more about our Immersive Learning Programs, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday, April 8th, 2015
Please join the members of Team El Salvador 9
in a presentation of their project work during J-Term 2015 in El Salvador
Thursday, April 16, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Digital Learning Commons (DLC), MIIS
420 Calle Principal, Monterey
Come hear about innovative collaborations in coastal resource management, sustainable fishing, public space design for community empowerment… and plans for future initiatives!
~Light refreshments will be served~
To RSVP and for more information, please contact: email@example.com
Friday, April 3rd, 2015
News from the participants and professors was posted on the miis.edu front page.
Thursday, March 26th, 2015
– Blog contributed by Kelly Quackenbush, MPA ’15
On Friday, March 13th, my team and I piled into Tim’s van for the drive up to San Francisco, and I’d be lying if I said we didn’t have butterflies in our stomachs. We were on our way to compete against nearly 50 other schools in the 2015 Regional Hult Competition. The challenge this year was “How can we provide quality early education to ten million children under age six in urban slums?”
My team consisted of Timothy Cunningham, Katie Barthelow, Noah Halton, and myself, and we had been working together for 6 months on our social enterprise, the Learning Roots Network. Our idea was to use technology to facilitate real-life interaction between caregiver and child. We would organize workshops about holistic early childhood education, and facilitate activity design sessions whereby residents in slums would create activities that made sense to them. These would be simple, short activities, such as stacking cups, identifying colors around the house, or counting grains of rice. Our idea was based on the premise that knowledge already exists in slums. What we wanted to do was shine a light on those local ways of knowing and nurture them to create a marketable product (which we call an “activity-based app”). Ultimately, we hoped, we would challenge people’s ideas about where knowledge comes from (doesn’t have to be from “experts”), and how value is created (value can come from slum communities).
Friday afternoon we arrived for registration and were handed folders, asked to pose for pictures, and shown to our very own break-out room, where we could relax and prepare. Half the teams would present in the morning, and half in the afternoon. We were scheduled for the morning, which meant that we would hear other teams’ pitches in the afternoon. Our friend Nicole Manapol volunteered to accompany us for the day as our “team advisor” and it was wonderful to have the extra support as we practiced our pitch the last few times. Finally, we were called.
Click here to read more
Wednesday, March 25th, 2015
Check out current IPSS fellow and International Policy Studies student at MIIS, Aileen Yang’s blog article featured on LinkedIn. Aileen is spending her last semester at MIIS as an intern at the World Trade Organization (WTO) as a distinguished IPSS fellow. She is blogging about her experience in Geneva, relevance of MIIS classroom simulations, and life at the WTO.
You can check out the story here, https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/from-simulations-reality-interns-reflection-aileen-yang?trk=hb_ntf_MEGAPHONE_ARTICLE_POST
Wednesday, January 28th, 2015
For J-term 2015, we had 70 students go to five countries on four continents.
Sonia Esquibel, who was on the Peru Practicum on small-scale farming, sent me the wonderful photo of Team Peru (to the right).
She wrote the following about her journey, “I have really enjoyed working with students from MIIS, MIDD, AASD, and Professor Phil Murphy. Surveying and interviewing rural farmers and working with quantitative and qualitative data have been great. In terms of skill acquisition, this trip is amazing. I am super grateful for all of the Team Peru folk, thanks for all your patience and humor!”
Most of the Team Peru cohort came back this past Saturday, just two days before classes started.
Stephanie Nelson, was on the El Salvador Practicum on community development, wrote, “This place forces you to reexamine all that you hold within. It’s only when you look inside the eyes of another human being, that you begin to feel sense of raw commonality with that person and truly discover what it means to be standing in the intersection of pain, and hope.”
Judie Henderson, who attended the Design, Partnering, Management, and Innovation (DPMI) training at Partners in Health in Rwanda, wrote, “I am moved by the resilience of the Rwandan people.” She had much more to say, of course, and I urge those of you on campus to ask her about it if you are curious.
Dr. Jan Black led a group of students to Cuba through a Global Exchange-organized trip. Dr. Black commented on some of the shouts the group received in the streets expressing good will to Americans.
“It has been interesting to me to see that the media in the US has discussed this opening as such a major change to Cuba, but Cuba has been changing all along. Every year is different than the year before. Fortunately, there has been continuity too, and we’ve met with some of the folks who have helped Cuba keep moving ahead while keeping the best of what has been gained through the Revolution. We met this time with a former Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chief of Mission to the United States who had been with the leadership since the Revolution, but the most exciting meeting always is with Connor Gorry, a MIIS alumna who is now a medical journalist and one of the foremost authorities on the Cuban healthcare system,” shared Dr. Black.
The Philippines Practicum on “Peacebuilding in Mindanao” kept a very up-to-date blog here. One blogger said, “Earlier in the day we were in a southwestern region of Mindanao called the Sultan Kudarat province and it became a very special learning experience. We met with some of the elected officials and village elders and they gave us a pretty thorough briefing on the state of affairs within their barangay. They appeared especially proud when they spoke of some of the new ideas that are being implemented to with the goal of empowering the local farmers with additional market options for their produce.”
Local Action in Monterey!
Those that stayed in Monterey were very busy as well. Thirty-four classes and workshops were in session this January and I had the opportunity to talk to students from a few of them.
26 people from 11 countries attended DPMI Monterey, which lasted three weeks and ended last Friday. The group had the opportunity to work closely with local homeless service providers as part of one of their projects. Tom Gray said, “As a Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies student, despite the great reviews I had heard about DPMI, I had doubts about how useful the program would be for my career prospects. However, after going through the program, I am now sure I made the right decision – DPMI teaches a range of different tools and techniques that I expect to be just as useful in the US government as they are in the development field. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to improve their project design and evaluation skills, regardless of their intended career path.”
Students in the International Marine Law Seminar collectively shared that “The class was an ocean of knowledge in a short period of time, but the experience was extremely valuable (pun intended).” They also added that they were grateful to learn from someone as admired as IUCN High Seas Policy Advisor, Kristina Gjerde. The photo above is by Chelsea Jordan, and is of an elusive rainbow spout of a humpback whale that the group got to see on their whale-watching trip at the conclusion of their course. Apparently a whale breached mere yards from their boat, close enough to make the captain swear.
Frontier Market Scouts, also known as FMS, had six workshops In January. Erina McWilliam-Lopez, the Social Impact Programs Director, sent me the photo below and added, “We just finished the first official CSIL version of the FMS training in Monterey. The cohort of 32 were diverse not only in terms of nationalities but also in terms of perspectives and skillsets. FMS participants enjoyed a surprise visit from impact investor Ron Cordes of the Cordes Foundation. Throughout the two-week training, the group experienced an accelerated learning curve during sessions focused on due diligence for impact investing, innovative business model design, organizational culture, and impact metrics systems scoping. But, they also found time for cooking an amazing pop-up Indian meal together, salsa dancing, and beautiful Big Sur hiking. It was a graceful mix of business with a touch of fun. “
About 30 students participated in Econ Bootcamp with Prof. Moyara Ruehsen and Jason Scorse. Chanel Bell said “It was a great opportunity for me to learn the fundamentals of economics. Micro provided me with a good understanding about how economics work in everyday life and macro gave me the basic understanding of how trade works between countries.”
Overall it was a very busy and productive J-term. If you have any quotes or photos from your J-term experience that you would like to share, please submit them to me, Katya Gamolsky at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday, January 21st, 2015
Here it is:
Anything Is Possible When You Conserve Water
*by Stephanie Gentle
Wednesday, November 12th, 2014
Monday, October 6th, 2014
Wednesday, August 27th, 2014
Wednesday, May 7th, 2014
Monday, May 5th, 2014
From posting these blogs to writing them!
IPSS in Cambodia
It seems like ages that I was working at the GSIPM front desk, driving my boss and other staff “insane” with my preparation-related anxieties and emotional outbursts for my IPSS applications. I am sure they were as much relieved as I was when the Cambodia Office of The Asia Foundation approved my application.
Today, 93F/62% humidity (and climbing!), Cambodia feels already like home and it’s only been 7 weeks. Why does it feel like home? When I came back to Phnom Penh from a weekend visit to Siem Reap a few weeks ago, I was sitting at the back of a motorbike taxi driving me home from the bus station. I was directing him, and I got this strange feeling of coming home. I knew my way around, recognized buildings and streets. Anybody slightly familiar with Phnom Penh knows that the streets in this city are a nightmare. House numbers do not make any sense. The only way to communicate where you are is you or a building in relation to a street intersecting. You get the hang of it pretty quickly: “Hey, I live at Street 278, close to street 143, third building on the left, next to a school. Our house has a green iron gate. Walk east towards the Olympic Stadium if you get lost and call me.” Or, “my work is on Street 242, between Monivong Blvd and Street 63.” I communicate with motorbike taxis and tuk tuk drivers the same way, “Just head towards the Royal Palace, I will show you.” Fascinating!
It was scary to hop on a motorbike at first but now I have a bike. It is a lot of fun to bike through Phnom Penh especially on the weekends when traffic is slow. Most of the time, however, it feels like committing suicide when I merge into the traffic. There are no apparent rules, except for one: Be reckless and inch your way forward at all cost! This is particularly evident at traffic lights when the time is ticking down. At 10 seconds, you can feel the vibe of hundreds of motorbike drivers around you, getting itchy, accelerating – vroom vroom – and rolling forward inch by inch, hitting your tire, and releasing a bunch of exhaust fumes into your face. Not that it will do anything for them – and it certainly does not do anything for me except speeding up the decay of my inner organs – but it is hilarious to watch. Then the traffic light hits 3 seconds. Oh boy! The patience has come to a sudden death, an invisible conductor begins to direct the honking concert and the chaos unfolds. The bus coming straight at you, no problem. People here can manoeuver very well. There is also a panacea for this: drafting behind a big SUV or within a group of 10 motorbikes which are forcing their way through traffic and I am good to go. Or, change lanes to the opposite side and wait on the sidewalk (the 3 or 4 in this city that actually earn the name sidewalk) and take any opportunity to make a left turn even though
the traffic light for the left turn lane is still red. I am afraid I have to re-learn how to drive when I come back to the US.
I was very fortunate when I got here because the arm of the MIIS Mafia reaches very far. During my preparations, I bombarded two MIIS alumni and friends working and living in Phnom Penh with hundreds of questions. We are currently four MIIS alumni because the fourth rejoined in March. They can take credit for having made my stay here so comfortable and relaxed. The first day, we went out to a local market and despite signs of a culture shock for me, my friend’s nonchalant demeanor made walking the streets of Phnom Penh almost normal. Thanks to them, I have come to love Phnom Penh very quickly.
Cambodia is host to a plethora of NGOs, both local and international. Any non-Khmer person you meet on the streets introduces him/herself as “I am working for XYZ.” There is an obvious “invasion” of French people in Cambodia, and then, of course, the Aussies who openly call Southeast Asia their backyard. Honestly, however, Australia is the backbone of many projects here and the biggest donor. If it wasn’t for their support, many things in Cambodia would still not work very well. Not to advocate donor dependency or dismiss foreign aid as something inherently bad, the work that’s being done in Cambodia is incredible. The country is changing rapidly, economically and socially. Just the structure is still limping and has not caught up yet.
My work for TAF (yes, acronyms and abbreviations are not just a MIIS specialty!) is very challenging and inspiring. The first-hand experience of the “real thing” is amazing. The NGO field is so diverse and development has many facets. Networking is fantastic and I have met so many interesting people with very diverse backgrounds. It is an eye opener for the different possibilities and niches out there.
I will be working on a project on Intimate Partner Violence which is quite severe in the Asia-Pacific region with current studies indicating very high prevalence rates. Going beyond the nominative aspects of focusing on attitudes towards acceptance of violence against women, I will support a project that will look at the macro-level. I already participated in a workshop from the Ministry of Women’s Affairs,
experiencing the dynamics between donors and recipients. I am very excited to work on a project that is contributing to tackling such a serious problem.
Coming from a strictly academic and research heavy background, I have not been oblivious to the technical hurdles of policy design, implementation and evaluation, but working with people in this field makes the rather abstract discussions in a Policy Analysis class a lot more tangible. That being said, I have finally made my way to
Asia after all these years and, as my wonderful Australian coworker put it the other day, I am “finally becoming important.”
I am growing on many levels with IPSS. It is a good start for navigating the abyss of career development, applying knowledge and learning to know who you are.
Tuesday, April 29th, 2014
MPA students will present their capstone projects during an innovative 2-hour poster fair in the McCone Atrium on Thursday, May 8, 12-2pm. Presenters will offer up new ideas and share key takeaways in their quest to provide creative solutions for pressings issues – in our local Monterey neighborhoods and in various corners of the world.
Featured MPA Capstone Projects include:
Crowdfunding Campaign Design and Management
Implementing a Successful Innovation Center in Salinas
Integrating Social Wealth Indicators into Monterey County Performance Measures
Promoting Entrepreneurship in Afghanistan
Click here to download a complete list of excellent work on showcase.
The 2014 MPA capstone class invites the entire MIIS community as well as interested local community members. Guests are encouraged to ask questions, share feedback, join the dialog.
A reception will follow the showcase fair starting at 2:00 PM at the Digital Learning Commons accessible at 411 Pacific Street, Monterey CA, 93940. Light snacks and drinks will be provided.
The MPA Showcase Fair is an informational networking opportunity open to the public. Interested friends and colleagues are welcome. Support our amazing student achievements by helping us to spread the word and most importantly – be there!
Please send inquiries to: email@example.com