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2018 Summer International Internship Scholarship Recipients

The 2018 International Internship Scholarship Recipients shared reflections on their experiences thanks to the Reves Center Scholarships. To learn more about how to help make these internships and other opportunities possible for students, please contact [[jdav3,Judy Davis]] or learn more on our website.

Layla Abi-Falah '17, J.D. '20
Brooke Cox '19
Drew Ingram '19
Emilie Smetak M.P.P. '19
David Warsof
Irene Williams '20

Layla Abi-Falah '17, J.D. '20

Layla is from Richmond, Virginia, and graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in Layla Abi-Falahinternational studies and a concentration in human rights in the Middle East and Africa. She is committed to a future in human rights. Layla had the opportunity as an undergraduate student to conduct policy relevant research alongside peers and professors and continues such research on development in Africa now as a project manager for the Center for African Development. At William & Mary, she was vice president of the Comparative Legal Society, symposium coordinator for the Human Security Law Center, and secretary of the Muslim Law Students Association. Layla spent summer 2018 as a Decentralization Unit intern for the USAID Jordan CITIES Project in Amman, Jordan.

Mark Grubb, Chief of Party, asked me before I left if I was getting what I wanted out of my internship and of course the answer was: “Way more.” That has always been crystal clear and unquestionable.

I was never just the intern. I had a part to play—responsibility. I began my time in Jordan conducting a comparative analysis of the legal frameworks on decentralization in Jordan’s neighboring countries, namely Morocco, Tunisia, Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon, looking to their best laws, regulations, by-laws, and manuals for models that could be replicated and adapted here in Jordan in the area of the four essential functions of decentralized government: project planning, budgeting, implementing, and monitoring. My research spanned nearly five to six weeks and culminated in the creation of a chart that is divided into each of the four functions and then further divided by country under each function to provide a user with an overview of what Moroccan, Tunisian, Iraqi, Lebanese and Palestinian decentralization laws have to say about planning or budgeting or implementing or monitoring.  I was able to get a big picture view of the data organized in this way to see that, for instance, Morocco has the best planning laws but an ideal budgeting model comes from a mixture of the procedures laid out in Moroccan, Tunisian, and Iraqi laws. 

The end goal within the next three years is to use this compiled data to create a desk reference or practice manual for the next generation of newly elected and even appointed officials within each level of government on budget preparation, which includes project planning and budgeting, and budget execution, which includes project implementation and execution. With this in mind, I drafted an idealized example of a table of contents that can be used for such a budget preparation desk reference or oven a local government code based on Moroccan, Tunisian, and Iraqi models of planning and budgeting.

Such a manual is merely based on the neighboring countries’ examples and so the next process moving forward as I continue to work for USAID remotely is understanding the Jordanian context and how to adapt these models to what is already in place in Jordan and what needs to be added to fill in any gaps.

Brooke Cox '19

Brooke Cox is a rising senior in the B.A. International Joint Honours Degree Program between the Brooke CoxUniversity of St. Andrews (UK) and the College of William and Mary (USA). This special four-year program allows her to study at both universities and receive a joint-honours degree in International Relations upon graduation. Brooke hopes to pursue a career in international development after graduation and her time interning with Citizen DEMOS has brought her one step closer to pursuing her dreams.

My time with Citizen DEMOS has made me realize the importance of preserving democracy and why we must fight to maintain it. Given the political instability throughout the world, it’s important to nurture and strengthen citizens and teach them what it means to be truly democratic. During my internship, I learned about the failing democracies of India, Poland, Hungary, Israel, and to some extent America. Each case study improved my understanding of why we see democracies today falling to demagogues and why it’s so important to not have the same situation happen to the US and other western nations. My internship coordinator experienced first-hand the decline of India’s democracy and has created this start-up organization to guarantee that other nations will not fall to alt-right nationalists and exclusionary politics. 

My position as the Social Media and College Program Intern gave me the critical role of outreach and promotion. I was tasked with creating and promoting the Citizen DEMOS Campus Leadership Program, which aims to educate students about their role in democracy, along with managing various social media platforms for Citizen DEMOS. As an International Relations major, it was very interesting to take on more of a marketing approach to international issues rather than a purely research one. The thing I loved most about my internship was that I was not considered simply an intern but rather an integral part of the Citizen DEMOS team. During my internship I gained valuable and transferable social media and marketing skills as well as a new appreciation for democracy. I am so thankful that the Reves Center has helped me throughout this internship by supporting me financially.

Drew Ingram '19

Drew Ingram is a senior at William & Mary majoring in French and minoring in Marketing. He is a CampDrew Ingram Kesem counselor and very interested in strategy and film.

The scholarship I received from the Reves Center allowed me to work with Les Eco Maires, an environmental NGO based out of Paris, France. With Les Eco Maires, I worked on a variety of tasks throughout the summer. Given that my office was French, I often acted as the liaison between Les Eco Maires and American NGOs when it came to event planning. Another project I spearheaded was our “Sauvons les grands singes!” (“Save the great apes!”) campaign. This consisted of planning events with the Jane Gooddall institute, finding brands that could effectively represent the campaign, and general research.

While in France, I had the opportunity to explore a new culture and broaden my world view. I gained the most experience in the workplace as French work customs are entirely different from those I have experienced in the United States. Not only did working with a French organization help me with my language skills, but I learned intricacies of their culture that a classroom environment could not teach.

Emilie Smetak M.P.P. '19
Emilie Smetak

Emilie is a graduate student at William and Mary, where she studies public policy and international development. Her areas of interest include security and defense, government accountability, and conflict resolution. After graduation, Emilie hopes to work for the U.S. government in strengthening the United States’ global image and engaging foreign policy. Emilie is originally from Pennsylvania, where she pursued several internships advocating for holistic community development. 

This summer I spent twelve weeks interning at the U.S. Embassy in Lilongwe in their Political Affairs and Economic section. Throughout the internship, I wrote cables, participated in high-level meetings, monitored voter registration, and learned how to deliver a demarche. I also worked heavily in the Small Grants Office, where I reviewed and short-listed applications, attended pre-selection site visits, wrote evaluation memos, prepared remarks for the Ambassador to deliver at ribbon cutting ceremonies, and created success stories.

As a student pursuing my Masters in Public Policy and International Development, this internship afforded me with first-hand experience in engaging in foreign policy and promoting U.S. interests abroad. I learned how to represent the United States in high-level bilateral meetings, rural site visits, and diplomatic events. I also gained exposure in ensuring that United States funded projects were held accountable to taxpayers in delivering the intended results.

This internship showed me that the education I received at William and Mary equipped me with the skills necessary to be a valuable team member within the U.S. Government. Within weeks of my internship, I was treated as part of the team and trusted with cable writing, selection memos, and diplomatic meetings. I also solidified my desire to work for the U.S. Government in protecting our interests abroad and strengthening bilateral partnerships both politically and economically. Because of this internship, I feel like I gained the skills and contacts necessary to be competitive in securing a job within the U.S. Government and will be better able to promote foreign policy in my future career.

Without financial assistance, I would have been unable to pursue this internship. Yet thanks to generous donors through the Reves Center, this internship has solidified my academic studies, strengthened my experience in foreign policy, and provided me with the skills necessary to promote a strong image of the United States globally.

I am truly grateful for the financial support of the Reves Center and the education I received through William and Mary’s MPP program in enabling me to complete this internship. I look forward to using this internship to secure a competitive career engaging foreign policy and to support future William and Mary students pursuing similar internships for years to come.

David Warsof '20

David Warsof is a junior at William & Mary. He is a Government Major and a History Minor with a David Warsofpassion for international affairs and Middle Eastern politics.He has gained leadership experience as the Vice President of the Tau Pi chapter of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity plans to pursue future internships and career paths that connect government affairs with the private sector.

This summer I participated in a 12-week internship with the Foreign Commercial Service (FCS) at the United States Mission to the European Union (USEU) in Brussels, Belgium. The main goal of the FCS at USEU is to further improve the Transatlantic Partnership between the United States and the European Union. The FCS office at USEU works with U.S. businesses to make sure that they can access markets in the European Union and also works to mitigate all tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade. 

As an intern at the FCS USEU, I had the opportunity to work closely with five highly dedicated Foreign Commercial Service officers. This was a great opportunity because it showed me firsthand what it is like to have a career in the Foreign Service/Foreign Commercial Service, a goal of mine since I was in high school. I was tasked with daily monitoring of E.U. legislation that affected Product Standards and the Digital Tech sector and learned important monitoring skills. Writing whitepapers was another one of my main assignments at the FCS USEU, which involved summarizing recently proposed and passed E.U. legislation and reporting on how the legislation might affect U.S. businesses. I really value the experience of working on these assignments, as it allowed me to gain a better understanding of how government legislation can impact the business sector and learn important skills that serve as the foundation for policy research and analysis. After working at the FCS USEU, I realized that I want to explore a minor in business to explore the connection between the public sector and the private sector.

Another part of my internship was organizing the arrival of special guests to the USEU. During my internship I helped plan the arrival of the new Ambassador to Belgium and the new Ambassador to the E.U. This planning included writing and compiling a booklet of biographies of Important European officials in the European Commission, Council, and Parliament to help the Ambassadors transition into their new roles. In addition to preparing for the arrival and meeting with the two new Ambassadors, I also had the honor of meeting President Donald Trump, the First Lady Melania Trump, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo when the President came to give a speech at USEU. These experiences ignited my passion for politics and have inspired me to purpose a career in public service.  Overall, this internship was an unbelievable opportunity that I will remember for the rest of my life. I am so thankful to the Reves Center and their donors for providing me with a scholarship that allowed me to have this opportunity of a life time.

Photo: On the left, Deputy Chief of the US Mission to the E.U. presenting to me a Certificate of Appreciation signed by the U.S. Ambassador to the EU. “In recognition of your exemplary efforts to prepare for the arrival of the U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. that led to and supported his successful meetings with the President of the European Council and other top EU leaders”

Irene Williams '20

Irene Williams is a rising sophomore at the College of William & Mary. She is a Linguistics and ChineseIrene Williams double major, and has a passion for learning languages and teaching. During the summer of 2018, she taught at Summerbridge Hong Kong, an English immersion summer program which serves underprivileged students. In addition to teaching, she has interest in tutoring ESL and students in her college town of Williamsburg. Outside of the classroom, her hobbies include baking and practicing karate.

It had been a long, hard day of teaching. During my lesson, half the class had been nodding off. At lunch, the students wouldn’t stop speaking Cantonese. I hadn’t slept much the night before. I was just ready to go home. But then one of my students stood up during afternoon “kudos time” – a time in which teachers and students thank one another – and thanked me for teaching such an interesting and fun class. That instantly lifted my spirits and reminded me why I joined Summerbridge.

It was an intense summer. I designed and taught my own course called Poetry in Music, in which students discovered the basics of poetry through the medium of music. I had to design the course for English language learners, which presented a special challenge. Writing lesson plans was like figuring out a complex puzzle; how could I incorporate speaking, listening, reading, writing, building confidence, and having fun in a span of 40 minutes? Most of the time, I couldn’t. But I tried my hardest and the kids saw that. They engaged, they had fun, and most importantly, I think they learned.

What made the late nights and early mornings worth it were the students. Seeing their utter transformation over the summer – from shy kids who would hardly make eye contact with me into mini MCs who wrote and performed their own rap battles – made me understand why teachers do what they do. Why they endure the long hours, the low pay, and the constant budget cuts. Because it’s not about us. It’s about the students. It’s about seeing their confidence grow, seeing them open up and share their lives with strangers they had just met a few weeks ago. All of the thank you notes and gifts I received were precious; my students went above and beyond for me, an inexperienced college student fumbling through her first real teaching experience. And I am so grateful to them.

This summer has made me decide that I want to go into education. There is no profession in the world like teaching, for better or for worse. But five weeks of teaching gave me a taste, and left me craving more. I can’t wait to dive right back into it.