Global Engagement Program Students Share Experiences in NYC

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and School of Business students participated this fall in the inaugural semester of the SUNY Global Engagement Program (GEP) in New York City.  The ten SUNY New Paltz students and two students from Cortland and Buffalo immersed themselves in international affairs through a seminar and globally engaged internships in New York City.

The Global Engagement seminar explores the role of global civil society in international relations.  The seminar addresses the impact of global civic organizations on human rights, humanitarian affairs, environmental issues, women’s issues, poverty and inequality. Seminar discussions thus give the students social scientific tools to understand their experience on the ground.

Students also participate in a three-credit research colloquium in which they develop, write and present a full-length paper about their internship topic; the students’ research thus enhances their substantive knowledge of their internship missions.

In Their Own WordsGEP Student Internship Experiences


Nadine Ahrabi-Nejad

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international medical humanitarian aid organization that provides independent, impartial assistance in more than 60 countries to people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe, primarily due to armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, exclusion from health care, or natural disasters.  MSF was created in Paris in 1971 by a group of doctors and journalists; MSF-USA was created in 1990 in New York City, and was the first office to open outside of Europe.  As a marketing intern at MSF, I work closely with the Direct Marketing Associate for Creative and Production on a variety of marketing tactics aimed at reaching donors all across the United States.  I assist in direct mail activities, email marketing, and logistical work behind fundraising events.  I am also responsible for tracking donor giving behavior, as well as conducting analysis of industry marketing materials and trends via ROI software.  As an intern I am learning how an organization maintains donor relations, markets itself to donors and the public, and the general activities of a Development department.


Kate Boehler

I am an Accounting/Bookkeeping intern at The Adventure Project. TAP is a start-up nonprofit designed to “add venture” to support entrepreneurs in developing countries. It brings together people determined to create jobs in developing countries and works on issues related to health, water, environment and hunger.  In 2012, TAP’s effort impacted over 500,000 people around the world.  I am responsible for entering all donations, purchases, and bank transfers into the accounting software program each week. I assisted in creating the Annual Report by presenting the accounting of the organization to public.  I translated our accounting in to presentable charts so that the public/donors can understand where the organization’s money was spent.  I also have to send tax receipts to donors for their donations.  I meet with a CPA a couple times each month to make sure that everything is accurate, but this is a very independent position.


Gregory Blitstein (on left)

I work as an Events Department intern at the Foreign Policy Association. The FPA was started in 1918 to spread awareness of global affairs and to encourage citizen participation in foreign policy. I work with the events coordinator and the assistant to the president in planning different conferences, task forces and other events held throughout the year. In September, the Foreign Policy Association hosted its annual World Leadership Forum, where prominent figures from governments, fortune 500 companies, and international organizations come together to address various issues regarding foreign policy, economics, and other current events and pressing issues in the world. Task Forces are shorter events designed to spread awareness of growing issues that affect the world. We are currently planning two Task Forces; Climate Change and Global Conflict that will be held in November in New York City.


Alexander Elmasri

For the fall 2013 semester, I am interning with the Program Department at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI). CGI is an initiative of the Clinton Foundation that convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.  My responsibilities include helping the department develop the content for all of the CGI meetings. Included in this process is creating the meeting schedules, format and session topics, as well as the selection and recruitment of moderators and panelists. As a program intern, I am also responsible with aiding the department in support of the day-to-day management of all program related matters. My internship experience has been very exhilarating and I have learned a lot about the logistics of managing how such major events as the CGI Annual Meeting occur. I have also been able to obtain a better understanding of how an international nongovernmental organization and foundation operates on both a day-to-day basis and the broader picture of their overall impact throughout the world.


Monica Farrel (on right)

I am an Executive Office intern for the Foreign Policy Association in New York. My work here is focused on education, event planning and social media management. The FPA publishes a yearly magazine entitled Great Decisions, which aims to educate Americans about eight pressing foreign policy issues of the year. The Foreign Policy Association holds various events throughout the year that are focused upon the topics of Great Decisions. I work to design the topics of discussion for the lectures, locate venues and panelists for these events, and advertise these events to FPA members and students. Every year the FPA holds a Great Decisions Teachers Training Institute to help promote education about foreign policy in high schools across the nation. My job is to maintain contact with the teachers of the institute and provide resources for them to educate their students.


Ricardo A. Hernandez Jr.

I am a communications intern at the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), an organization dedicated to ending discrimination or abuse on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. I currently work to create multimedia for the organization using video editing software. Materials are available through the organization’s website and Youtube channel. I also write press releases and media advisories about upcoming projects, studies and events for the organization. In addition to the above, I establish relationships with reporters. I monitor IGLHRC in the news, and research LGBT human rights violations in selected regions. I also plan to write editorials about special topics concerning LGBT human rights violations. I have witnessed history in the making when ten member states, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and members of the LGBT Core Group at the United Nations held an unprecedented meeting to address violence and discrimination against LGBT people around the world. I will also help to host activism events throughout the semester.


Christiana Nicolaou

The Global Engagement Program class, along with my internship, has truly enriched my learning experience. The combination of the research colloquium, the internship class, and my internship responsibilities has created a supportive learning environment. The resources given to me by this program will allow me to thrive and continue on to achieve my future career goals.

I am interning at the New York City Mayor’s Office for International Affairs, in the Division for International Business. The Division for International Business aids foreign companies in establishing operations in New York City. My responsibilities at the Mayor’s Office are of greater substantive value, as I am able to observe companies launch and flourish in one of the most competitive cities in the world and ultimately understand the obstacles and opportunities in conducting business globally.


Caitlin O’Donnell

This semester, I am interning with the Global Legal Program at the Center For Reproductive Rights in Manhattan. This non-governmental organization is a global legal advocacy organization dedicated to expanding reproductive freedom for women around the world. The Center works to expand access to quality, safe, and affordable reproductive health care; which includes access to contraceptives, safe and legal abortion, prenatal and obstetric care and unbiased information. As an intern, I support the work of the Global Legal Program’s team of legal advisors, fellows, program associates, and legal assistants. My projects range from doing research and fact checking world abortion laws to creating and organizing databases for communication and outreach purposes. Additionally, I am also able to attend both Center wide staff meetings and meetings for the Global Legal Program specifically. This is a great way to keep informed about the array of projects going on throughout the Center.


Cecilia Stein

For the Fall 2013 semester I am working as an intern at the Clerk’s Office at the United States Court of International Trade.  The Court of International Trade was established in 1980 and oversees all legal controversies arising out of international trade policy in the United States. As an intern in the Clerk’s Office I am working on several projects with the Court’s Advisory committee on the rules, the law library court archives, and preparing for an investiture ceremony for two new judges who were recently appointed the court. Through these tasks I am gaining experience in preparing memos as well as becoming acquainted with different tools for legal research.  I also have the opportunity to attend court hearings and meet one on one with judges to gain insight on how the work of the Court impacts the globalized economy.


Keith Uffer

I currently am an intern with the United Nations Association of the United States of America Southern NYS Division. The UNA-USA is an association dedicated to building understanding of the UN and supports the ideals and vital work of the UN among the American people. They do this by their education and advocacy programs which stress the importance of nations working together and the need for U.S. leadership at the UN.

I have several responsibilities.  The first responsibility I have just completed involved organizing and judging a video contest in which middle school students and high school students make videos based on the world they want.  My second responsibility involves expanding our outreach over the social network.  This involves using twitter and Facebook.  My third responsibility is helping to plan and coordinate major events such as the Post-2015 Agenda Event, the Human Rights Day Event, and the Mid-Atlantic Conference.  The final and most important task I have is to create a chapter in the Mid-Hudson Valley.  I want SUNY New Paltz to have an active role in forming this new chapter as the ideals of the UN are so vital to our community, country and our world.


Jennifer Vanriper

As part of the SUNY Global Engagement Program, I work at the Humpty Dumpty Institute, an NGO dedicated to “putting the pieces back together.” The HDI was formed after its founders traveled around the world, witnessing firsthand UN peacekeeping operations in places like post-genocide Rwanda, and decided to take action. Today, the organization runs both diplomatic and large-scale humanitarian projects around the world. These include strengthening US-UN relations, removing land mines for post-conflict areas, and promoting healthcare and food security in developing nations.

The department I work with is the Higher Education Alliance, an initiative that connects institutions of higher learning with organizations within the UN in order to raise awareness about the issues which currently face the global community. To do this, we arrange for UN speakers to travel to colleges and universities across the country, lead discussions, and answer questions from students and the public. Topics this year include Peace and Security, Human Rights, Sustainable Development, and the Post-2015 Development Agenda. My responsibilities range widely, and I have been tasked with putting together contact information and calendars, publicity, and social media. Being a part of the organization has given me valuable insight into the efforts being made to address urgent global issues, as well as the work that goes into organizing and holding large events.


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