Sunday, July 1, 2012

Getting the Groove

This week marked my second week and my first full week of work! I am loving the foundation and all the people at it.

This week I have given numerous research and data projects for donors and different events. While not the most glamorous work, I've have learned time and time again that it is the little and least exciting things which helps the most. These tasks are the small cogs which make events and meetings possible, and I am more than happy to do this and be exposed to new things!

Also on Wednesday Dr. Bruce Charash, founder of Docs to Docks, came in to talk about his organization. Made as a commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative, Docs to Docks collects recyclable or unused medical equipment that would be discarded from hospitals and sends them to needy clinics in Africa. Dr. Charash told us stories and the way his organization is run. It is truly a great cause and an even greater idea. However, one point that I disagreed with Dr. Charash was in sustainability of the program. Yes, the deliveries to African hospitals can last up to two years and gives them critical equipment, but after those two years, what comes next? Does the cycle continue? Yes those shipments may save countless lives, but what about the lives once the supplies are exhausted? Some of these questions weren't answered.

I also got to hang out with the other interns and staff in the office. All the interns are great and it makes the experience much more enjoyable. As I have found out, a number of them know a lot of fellow Dickinsonians, and some of my good friends! Small world.

I can't wait to get into this internship more, I have a feeling some great stuff is about to come my way!


P.S. Happy 5 months Shannon! :)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Back and it: Chasing the Dream

Hi All,

As you know, I took some time off from my blog. After churning out one post a week, I needed some time off. I did a lot of things in the time: saw my friends graduate, went to meetings, had fun with my housemates, went to a lake palace, and enjoyed my summer.

Now I have started my internship at the Clinton Foundation and I am back at it. Writing these blogs additionally help me remember every week of my internship; after a while things become a blur. I am not going to specific with what I do during my internship for confidentiality reasons, sorry!

My commute to work isn't the shortest. I have to take the commuter train in, take a subway and then walk to work. It's not bad, I actually enjoy it. My office is downtown and it seems really official to be working in downtown NYC! 

I started my week with two-day orientation. All 90 interns were gathered for the afternoon and we heard from all the different departments and what they do for the foundation. Additionally we met our fellow interns and supervisors for the summer followed by a wonderful welcome reception.

My week started off getting introduced to my team and getting oriented to the office and my work station. I have an incredibly experienced development staff and the foundation knows how to treat its interns right. I then proceeded with fundraising software training. I am getting acclimated to the system, and knowing this software should make me a more viable candidate in the job market!

Throughout the week we had one-on-ones with the staff of the department and got to know their backgrounds and experiences. I have to say, I am pretty sure one of the staff members can help me get a job, not kidding. They are all incredibly nice people too!

My fellow intern and I were given some initial tasks as well as shown weekly procedures we would have to do; I can't wait to get into the groove. On Friday there was an intern. Beside walking through the monsoon rain to get to the reunion, it was really cool to interact more with my fellow interns and those who worked there in the past.

This sounds like an excellent week to me! Oh, and I get to meet the President. No big deal.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Back to the Empire State and some R&R

Hi All,

My semester in Washington DC is over. It was an amazing experience, and if I had to grade it on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being super awesome) I would give it a 8.5 or 9. Yes, I had incredible times and I learned a lot. I feel confident about taking care of myself post-undergraduate career and about where my future is headed.

I am currently back home in New York and finishing up my paper assignment as well as getting ready to enjoy my summer. I will be headed back to Dickinson soon to see my senior friends go and it is sure to be a great time spending a week and a half with them,

Thank you all for reading about my 15 week of my semester. As you all know, I am at the Clinton Foundation so I will keep up this blog semi-regularly about my happenings. I cant promise it'll be every week, but Ill be sure to post about my work, if any cool things happen, and about current events if I so choose (2012 elections, foreign policy, etc.).

Starting the fall, I am pretty sure I'll have to blog again for class, but I do need some time to relax and recuperate. I'll post again soon, don't worry.

Thanks for reading again, it means a lot to me!


Senator Al Franken (D-MN) and I!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Last Week

As the title points out, this was my last week of work at the State Department. I had a great 13 week working there, and I have grown a lot; both personally and professionally. I have learned the workings of American diplomacy while helping out in different areas of multilateral policy. The State Department has taught me new skills and conduct, while sharpening my multitasking abilities, organizational skills and communication. I will never forget the experiences I had and the people I met, and I hope to go back sometime in my career.

I worked in a high caliber office with high caliber people.

Now onto my week:

On monday, Vice President Dick Cheney spoke at the Washington Center. It was a big event for the center, and they had tons of procedures for students. I was in partial disbelief because he was still recovering from his heart transplant surgery he had a few weeks ago and that's not easy. He spoke about his early time in Washington and surprisingly threw in some stuff about his Vice Presidency (which we were told was off-limits). I may not like the man, or agree with him, but I respect the service he gave to this country. He was still recovering, so he had to hold the microphone with two hands which laid on his chest.

Vice President Dick Cheney

There's not much to talk about tuesday, so I am going to skip to Wednesday! On wednesday, I pretended I was from Minnesota and went to Sen. Al Franken's constituent breakfast in the Hart office building! They served wild rice porridge (I've never had porridge before so I was hesitant, it turned out to me nice and sweet) and then we all waited for the senator. Al Franken came out, and we got to ask question after he gave us a small speech about the current happenings in Congress. After questions, everyone got an individual picture with him which was really cool. I shook his hand, and an official senate photo is going to be sent to my house with Al Franken's signature. Very cool senator. I also stopped my Sen. Schumer's office for a quick picture; NY pride.

Sen. Al Franken!

Me outside Schumer's office

On thursday I finished up a lot of loose ends at work, and sent documents to the appropriate officers so they would have them after my account is disabled. However my Friday was much more interesting and great, as it was also my last day. I brought a thank you card and donuts in for the office; they were totally not expecting anything. Friday was holocaust remembrance day at the State department. They had Annette Tilleman, widow of Rep. Tom Lantos, come and speak about her time in the holocaust. However, introducing her was Secretary Clinton! So on my final day, I finished my bucket list of seeing the Secretary speak in person. After seeing her on TV numerous times, it was an incredible experience seeing her in person.


Her introduction and the Annette Tillman were great, and very sad at time. After that for lunch my office took me out to burger tap & shake, a local burger, shakes, and fries place. I did not expect to be bought lunch, it was a heartening experience that the entire office went out at once just for my last day...or to get a burger. Anyway you size it up, it was a very kind gesture and I will miss them all dearly. Around 2:30 I had to get debriefed (aka signed forms) and they took my badge away :(. For the remainder of the afternoon, I had to be escorted around the building. At the end of the day, I received warm goodbyes and lots of business cards. I'll be a bit surreal not walking into State everyday, but I am looking forward to my last year of college.

This weekend I met up with the college Democrats who did their DC trip, and a few friends who were in the area.

All in all, I have an amazing past few weeks, with meeting actors and senators, and getting an internship. It's been quite a ride, and I can see my station coming closer.


P.S. Congrats Shannon for making it through finals week! You're going to have an amazing summer!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A G8 Week

It's beginning to be that time; my internship is coming to a close. My last day is April 27, and its a bit surreal that this semester is already over. It's been an incredible experience, but I'll elaborate on that next week!

Monday was an easy day at the office, and it was tax day/emancipation day in DC! DC government put on fireworks in Freedom Plaza downtown and it was a beautiful night for it. It was 75 all night and clear skies. Matt Hillsberg photography is below.

On Tuesday everyone went outside around 10 am to see the space shuttle discovery do a few laps around DC. The shuttle was strapped on a Boeing 747 and accompanied by a fighter jet. The jet looked like a pebble compared to the other two air crafts, and it was a very cool experience. I saw everyone on their phones as they were walking back to work, so no doubt some of you have seen the same picture of the shuttle on Facebook or Twitter.

Later on tuesday, I was involved in setting up for the G8 experts group conference. Every year, the country hosting the G8 conference switches; the last night the U.S. hosted was 2004 and now it is our time again. The big summit is in May at Camp David, but numerous political and ministerial meetings have been held at State and around DC already. After setting up, I performed escort duty to bring around 20 or so delegates to the delegates lounge for an opening reception. I got to interact with a few of them and receive some free dinner.


On Wednesday and Thursday i officially helped out the G8 experts on protection on civilians conference.  A U.S. led initiative, the U.S. announced at the last G8 that this would be the topic of the annual experts conference (part of the larger G8). It was all in English, and representatives from the UN and EU were there as well. I was involved in doing administrative work, sitting in on the meetings, and handling the AV equipment. All the interns who helped out also got to go to the 8th floor (where the official rooms are) and have lunch. There is a balcony outside of one of the dining rooms and it overlooks DC towards the south; you could see the Pentagon and Virginia clearly. I also got to go into the Treaty Room (outside the Secretary's office) which was absolutely stunning. All in all it was a great experience. I clearly saw how technical and cumbersome multilateral diplomacy was, but also the merits of working in concert with other states to achieve an objective. Though people debated on a few sentences for about 45 minutes, just having that conversation about an issue (and eventually it being incorporated into that states' policy) is significant.

8th Floor

On Friday I was playing catch up on a lot of work, but it was a beautiful day. A group of us went out to the food trucks which was delicious (Dorothy Moon's Gourmet Burgers). I unfortunately had to say goodbye to some staff as they would be out of the office all next week on conferences.

This weekend was relaxing. On Saturday I went to Hillwood Estates and Gardens which was absolutely beautiful. I took a ton of pictures, which I'll leave you all with (the last one is my favorite). Another spectacular week, and being here has been a big personal and professional development experience.

I am a bit of a changed man.


P.S. Goodluck with finals Shannon! :)

My favorite

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Despite naming this post after a song I have been listening to all week, it ties in very well to my week.

Big things happening, get ready to read, here we go.

On monday I stayed home and worked on my paper - pg 10 of 23-25, not too bad! I have a lot more work to do, but I am happy of the progress I've made so far. This was my lightest day of the week, so get ready.

Tuesday was a very busy day at the office. Along with all the backlog of work from Easter, I had to prepare for an Inter-agency meeting about the 2012 UPU Doha Congress, in which all the relevant federal agencies came and discussed a game plan for preparations. After being through a few inter-agencies, I think I have gotten a clearer vision on how policy is made and the workings of coordination inside the federal government. One can talk about it all the time in class, however sitting through them are a whole different, and awesome, ball game.

Later tuesday I was invited to the Cosmos Club in DuPont Circle for dinner with the people who give to my financial so that I may attend Dickinson every year. They were an amazing couple and took my on a tour of the very swanky club (and super elite club too) and explained the beginnings of the family scholarship I am given. We had dinner in the club afterwards and it was delicious - Filet Mignon and triple chocolate mousse cake. I thought I was in heaven. I must have thanked them a million times for investing in a kid like me, because it means a lot. I would never had gotten the experiences I have gone through or have been able to develop in the person I strive to become without financial assistance. Often times students are looked at as statistics - but we are so much more. We are the next generation of the world, and enriching and educating our lives, and subsequent generations, should be a source of pride and a national priority. That said, I am very gracious that they had a great time with me, and it warmed my heart that the donor herself (part of the family who's grant is given to me) said she is honored to have me receive her father's scholarship, and he would be too.

Cosmos Club

On Wednesday I took a tour of the Library of Congress. Though the tour was limited, it is an amazing building, and it was an educational experience. I didn't find the President's book, but I am sure it's not another clue. When I got to work, I was involved in planning and attending meetings with the United Nation's Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) #2 Mr. John Sandage! An American and a former employee of the State Department, he was very funny and it was very interesting sitting in on the meetings and learning the different issues the U.S. wanted to discuss with them. Due to sensitivity, I will not say the issues on this blog, sorry. I have four pictures below, there's more of my week after them so don't stop reading!

Mr. John Sandage

Library of Congress

Library of Congress

Library of Congress

On thursday I had another busy day at work! I worked on diplomatic notes and a bunch of other activities. Though small in the workings of American diplomacy, they are really significant. I worked on Rio +20 things as well. I also met with the head of the Macedonian Postal Regulatory agency! They were all really young and friendly. I sat in on meetings with them and then got a picture with them (which I do not have)! After work I attended an accepted students reception for the new Dickinson class. It was hosted a beautiful home and I think I really made my case to undecided kids. The biggest thing to enjoying Dickinson is getting involved. Being involved has enabled me to become the person I strive to become, as well as meeting many kids in different part of the campus community. At Dickinson, you have the power to make a change, and I love that.

Friday was perhaps the biggest day of them all. In the morning I had an interview for an internship in NYC, which wasn't bad. However I was grilled by the deputy of the office and asked "how I would describe the color red to someone who was blind". I was asked this for an internship position -___-. I responded that I would describe what the color means to me and how it makes me feel, and I would bring others in to do that same so that he could gain his own perception of the color - colors are always subjective.

During the day, I was doing a walk through of the G-8 meeting I am staffing this week and we went to the 8th floor (the official diplomatic halls). While we were waiting for the elevators, actor Rob Lowe comes out of no where! Starstruck, I tell him I am a big fan of his especially on Parks & Rec (I love that show) and he shook my hand!! I didn't get a picture with him, but it definitely was amazing. Lastly, I got a call in the afternoon, and I was notified I got my internship for the CLINTON FOUNDATION this summer!!!!!!!! I will be interning in NYC, and I couldn't be more pumped; I was practically doing flips. I received so much support from everyone, especially from my amazing girlfriend - thank you sweetie, you're the best :). Between Rob Lowe and getting an internship, I was sailing pretty high on friday!

Rob Lowe

I had a really fun weekend, it was beautiful weather. So all in all, this was amazing week and I couldn't be more thankful for everything in my life. Coming back to the first point about Giants. As I talked about last post, we have the potential to do big things. We all can be Giants if we try, because I have faith in the human potential and the ability to do big things.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Bigger than Your Body

I didn't have a terribly exciting week (this upcoming week will be, I promise), but I did get accepted to staff a G-8 (Group of Eight) meeting at the State Department in the end of this month! I won't be meeting really important people, but I will be interacting with delegates!

On Monday I went to the Israeli embassy. It was a really cool experience and we heard from a seasoned political officer. Taking things with a grain of salt, his lecture was informative and was interesting to hear issues from an Israeli point of view. Not saying I agreed with all things he said, or that some things weren't hypocritical, but a great time nonetheless.

So, instead of talking about my week, I am going going to touch on a different topic. I know this blog is filled with foreign policy and political issues, but I am going to talk about you. The power that you possess in you; the power of the individual.

I first want you to look at the quote to your left, the one under my "About Me". It's a quote attributed to Leonardo Da Vinci, arguably the smartest human ever to walk this Earth. It is an astute observation, and a correct one at that. Those who make things happen control the conversation, realize their dreams, and solve problems. Those "go-getters" don't take a back seat to events, they make events happen. Its something that strongly resonates with me.

Humans have done incredible things. We have built cities, bridges, buildings, roads, technology, medicines, and continue to do things we think are impossible. However things didn't get the way they are by sitting back and watching. No, those who have left a lasting impact, those who have changed their own lives, are the ones that made things happen.

If you know me, you know I was not someone who was spoon fed everything. I, as well as many others who I look up to, worked our butts off to get things and become the people we strive to be. Granted some things just happen, but most of the time you have to be the one who wants it. I have seen far too many people be helpless about their current situations; whether it be economic, social, emotional or other. Yes, a divine power may or may not have done it for a reason, but I am a firm believer that if one wants something to change, you have to make it change. If there is something you want, go out an take it.

I am a strong believer in human excellence and the human potential. Whether it is the will to beat cancer, the will to change our situations in life, or the will to stop wars - we all have the potential to do it. Now this takes determination, perseverance, and patience. You make yourself who you are and how you portray yourself to others, and the responsibility lies within no one but oneself. Humans made this world, and humans continue to shape it.

So go out and be the force which makes your dreams a reality; sitting on the couch and hoping for it served to you on a silver platter is unrealistic. If you want your life to change, be the change that people respond to, not the responder. If you're ever feeling helpless, just take a good look inside of yourself and know that's where the true power lies. You're the strongest force in your life, and don't waste that potential.

Take the Reins, and Be the Change.


P.S. Thanks for reading that, here are some pictures of spring in DC as your reward:

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Like Magic

Another slow-ish week at the office. However I did pretty substantive work on things. It seems like all the international conferences coincide on the same week. Next week should be busier; many officers return to the office. I am having an incredible internship, and I couldn't be luckier to be working where I am; it is certainly a life changing experience.

 Tuesday night I had dinner with Dickinson alum and trustee Woody Goldberg. He is an absolutely brilliant and kind man. We had a wonderful dinner and discussion about many trending topics, and of course, Dickinson. We we at the University Club, which I heard falls on the other side of the political spectrum from me! It was a very good looking club though.

On Wednesday, I was back on the Hill and attended a U.S. House roundtable between the Airline private sector and government agencies that deal with transportation put on by and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The topic was the EU ETS (Emissions Trading Scheme), and it is a very contentious issue within ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization). The scheme is similar to cap and trade, but it would impose harsh restrictions on U.S. airlines; forecasting losing $3.1 billion over 8 years. Surprisingly, Republicans and Democrats agreed that negotiations with the EU was over (as it was introduced last fall, slated to take affect by the EU this winter), and the U.S. must file an article 84 complaint in ICAO. An article 84 lets the ICAO council decide on the issue (where the number of states opposing this on the council is more than those who do). Filing an article 84 against all 27 EU states (since the EU is not part of ICAO because ICAO are for states only) would potentially make these states be more willing to negotiate. However, all of those testifying stated that they would like a consensus on reducing airline emissions, but are  opposed to the ETS. If the ETS took place, fare flying for all U.S. citizens would increase dramatically and disrupt the economy. Pretty big stuff going on in my organizations!

On my walk to the Rayburn building (it was a beautiful day) I saw a Dickinson and Keystone alum! Pretty interesting how things work. I also walked by the Supreme Court and saw a lot of pro-bill people outside :D. The week ended with little fanfare, though I do hope it gets warmer out! 

Walking in the morning to the Hill

Outside the Supreme Court, keep the bill!!

On Monday I am going to the Israeli and Palestinian Embassies! I can't wait!

I may potentially have big news this week. I just don't want to say anything until it is set in stone. I also am going to have dinner with my scholarship donors next week, and I can't wait to thank them for making my Dickinson experience possible.

By the way, I am having fun, I just choose not to divulge that information on my blog :p. 

On the last note: Every week, my professor for my night class tells us to tell someone you love them, because life is too short not too. I agree, and I try my best to do it. All you really do need is love, because it's magical.


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Slow your Roll

As opposed to last week, I don't have entirely too much to talk about. It figures that like a week after a busy one, it is very slow. A lot of the office was out on conferences and meetings. Also, I am not sure what happened but TWC wireless is horrible!!! #firstworldproblems

On Monday, TWC took us to USAID for an information session. I never new how big and new the Ronald Regan building is. It is light years ahead of the state department in terms of being up-to-date!

Tuesday was the big day - the meeting of International Postal Policy and Delivery Services. I've been working on it for a while so it was nice to see the fruits of my labor! While the policy was over my head, I did meet a Dickinson alum who I will be getting coffee with! Networking is the name of the game.

I did get to see some high-profile people this week as well! Andrea Mitchell came to the State Department and spoke about women (it is Women's History Month) and her career as a women in a male dominated industry (at the time). She also talked about recent controversies as when she was interviewing a Santorum backer and he said birth control was something like "putting an aspirin between your knees". I forgot this was the 1950s. She is a very strong and incredible woman, not to mention I love MSNBC!

Sorry for the size, the internet is horrible. Andrea Mitchell!

I also went to the Hudson Institute on Thrusday to see Indian Ambassador to the United States H.E. Nirupama Rao give a presentation! She didn't give a lot of specific about Indian policy but here's what I took away from it: India is pursuing a policy sort of a hybrid to Turkey and China. On one hand they are pursing an aggressive neighborhood policy like Turkey, but want to portray themselves as a quiet-but-rising global power like China. Pretty interesting. However the moderator from the Hudson Institute must have said "um" like 100 times; kind of embarrassing in front of a high-level ambassador.

That's it for my week. This Tuesday I have a dinner with a Dickinson trustee, and eventually a dinner with my scholarship donor! I have 5 more weeks; crazy. But it's been an amazing experience for myself and my future so far.

To infinity and beyond.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Finding Solutions, not Problems

So I promised I would expand on what I meant by finding solutions this week, and I will. I'll just give a brief overview to a very busy week.

In terms of work, this week has had to be the busiest one yet. The other intern was out for spring break, so I had to juggle a few projects at once; they all got completed in their allotted time. My projects ranged from the UPU, Rio +20, IAEA, CCPCJ, and drafting diplomatic notes!

On Tuesday I went to a senate hearing on securing nuclear materials; Sen. Akaka (D-HI) presided and it was interesting to hear testimonies from DoS, DoE, and DoD. I also drafted two diplomatic notes and have been preparing for the Advisory Committee on International Postal Policy on Tuesday (Woooooo! Joking).

On Wednesday Dickinson hosted an event with P.J. Crowley and I got to network a bit. This week, I have been doing informational interviews with non-proliferation officers; it has been great to see how they got to their position as well as networking for the future. I am going to continue to do informational interviews especially with US-UN officials at state and many others.

The TWC program manager came to state for an on-site inspection (part of the program) and she received very positive feedback on my work. I explained to her my reservations with TWC and she agreed with some of them.

And it has been absolutely stunning weather in DC this week. No day was below 70 and there were a few days in the 80s.

 Now onto the second part of this post. I realize I may hit on touchy subjects, but these are my opinions and you can disagree with them, just act like an adult.

As I touched on last week, I said our leaders talk about problems, not solutions. So let me give an example by talking about the abortion issue. Its contentious, but what we have seen from congress and numerous states are laws which shut down legal abortion clinics, or ironically insert more government mandates (which the GOP does with Virginia's ultrasound bill, hypocrites much?). In my view, I 100% support the woman's right to choose. However, I think the pro-choice and pro-life labels are false. I would like to to think that no woman would want to have an abortion. The woman who do choose to have the procedure done never forget it. It's a big decision. I come from the view that everyone is pro-life, and this entire country would like to see the least abortions possible per year. I haven't met one person, one woman, or one man, that just loves to see an abortion. I challenge anyone who disagrees with me to find one. Seriously.

Now, the question for our leaders should be: How do we make policy which decreases the amount of abortion procedures per year? This is sensible, isn't it? Now you're talking about solutions, not the issue itself. But solutions should address a deeper question, why do women choose to undergo abortions in the first place? And once we've pinpointed why, how to do you try and solve it?

Here's a few possible solutions: greater funding for school programs which teach about being safe, greater funding for pre and post-natal programs which support low-income or single mothers. Let's be honest, there is a real divide between sex education and abortions between the different income classes in this country.  Some abortions happen because of unwanted pregnancies, and the lack of responsibility to use protection among partners. Other reasons are societal and so on. If the government provided grants for local programs which help women care for their children, particularly in low-income areas, then maybe the mother may have hope her child will grow to have a successful life. These are real issues and must be tackled by real solutions, this is how progress is made.

Lets talk another issue - food security. Now judging by our supermarkets, food security doesn't really seem like an issue, I am just securitizing something. But I'm really not. According to many stories, including Foreign Policy magazine its an impending global crisis. Currently we have and use a lot of genetically modified food (GMFs) (shout out Erin Carroll). Which is why we have so much. My opinion about GMFs?

While it lets us mass produce food, long-term its probably not in our best interest to keep GMF production up. Government should take the lead in encouraging organically grown (or non-GMF grown) food. Unfortunately, profit and ease often triumph smart policy in government. I also don't think there can ever be too much food regulation, Obama recently got new regulations passed in 2010.

However GMFs, as you mention, can have a significant affect on ending world hunger. There are many spectacular NGOs which do great work off food and financial donations to give people basic meals. While GMFs are harmful in the long run, there should be more exportation to places that need it most, or at least some policy which addresses this global problem. With over 7 billion people on this planet, I don't think it would be possible to feed them all without some GMF material, but then again, we don't feed everyone ether. Finding GMF to grow in hunger stricken areas would probably be a good step to take, if it hasn't already. There are signs of an impending food crisis happening in different sections of the world. As globalization continues, food security will keep becoming a paramount national and international security issue.

Yes I am a Democrat, but I am a strong believer in individual responsibility. My view as a Democrat is that government has the ability to remove barriers imposed by societal and economic conditions so everyone can be an an equal-er playing field to compete. Government has the role of helping the individual achieve what they want, not giving stifling human potential and excellence. Who says the next President, Albert Eisenstein, or next innovator can't be living in poverty right now, never able to become who he/she wants because of economic and societal barriers. This is the role I feel our government should play, enabling others to have the potential to live more amply. It's an ideal, but certainly not unrealistic.

That's all I got for today, I've thought about these in depth a little :p. Of course there are plenty more, I'll sprinkle them through the coming weeks. Wouldn't it be nice if we had policies that solved problems, instead of just debating them?

I know so.


P.S. Congrats Shannon on your amazing internship this summer! :)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Rally the Troops

If you've been in DC at any point, DC United went on an impressive public relations campaign to get people to their home opener. It worked. But I'll come back to this.

What I've noticed with my internship is that work ebbs and flows a lot. This week has been mixed, and there was definitely some fluctuations in the amount of work I had/have to do.

On monday I went to another TWC programming event. On the way to the event, I met a campaign manager I used to work for on the street. Totally by chance too. I'll hopefully be getting a meal with him soon.

 The programming was pretty poorly planned with kids having to sit on the floor. The topic was Fair Trade, but the expert that was brought in did not know how to communicate or give a presentation. This wasn't just me, a number of kids said this. In addition, some kids were asking legitimate, not "gotcha" questions, and the guy totally avoided them. The questions were about if fair trade seemingly costs more to provide (the guy said it doesn't, but then why does fair trade items cost more? Never answered that ether), how do developed countries engage in fair trade policies without busting the consumer's wallet? Also how to companies make profit if their goods are priced so much due to fair trade that no one buys their stuff? If anyone can help me answer this, I would really like to know.

On Tuesday I had another TWC programming event, but I am not going to go into it, I have too much positive energy in me right now. :)

On Wednesday I had my meeting with Deputy Assistant Secretary of my bureau! She is a very intelligent and kind woman. I got to have a mock interview with her, and she also helped me by pointing out some potential State Department programs to apply for post-undergraduate. She has also offered to help connect me with specialists in the areas of international relations I am interested in. So I'll be having some meetings with non-proliferation and multilateral gurus in the next few weeks!!

My family also came in the middle of the week. They went around DC and took me out for some delicious dinners. Love ya mom.

Unexpectedly on Thursday I asked to help escort the UN Office of Drugs and Crime's (UNODC)  Terrorism Prevention Branch's (TPB)  new chief, Ms. Requena Huertas!! I sat in on a meeting between her and State Department officials - it was highly productive and extremely interesting.

Finally, Friday was a whirlwind day of meetings. The other intern and I went to a U.S. meeting about an Asian country (sorry, I just worry about the sensitivity of things), a brown-bag lunch about life in North Korea, and another meeting at USPS HQ. The North Korea lunch was sooo interesting. The officer giving the picture presentation was a U.S. inspector sent to see if the North Koreans needed food aid, and he took a ton of pictures. Case-in-point, North Koreans don't live a glamorous lifestyle, but they do have a society that's not in ruins. The Hermit Kingdom is not as worse off as we may think, though there are a lot of malnutritioned kids. At USPS, the other intern and I were given super hero stamps, star war stamps, and a Mr. Zip bobble head!! Its very cool, don't knock it. That being said, I have a ton of work to do next week.

This weekend Jordan Reed '09 came to visit and we saw alums on friday, which was pretty fun.

Now let me get back to DC United. They've been flooding the city with ads like this on bus stops and newspapers:

Phrases like "Rally the Troops" and "Join Olsens Army" were everywhere. Jordan, Josh Hicks, and I went to the game last night! We bought DC United scarfs and I also bought a pin that said "Olsens Army" on it. It's pretty sick.The game was a ton of fun between tailgating before and the game itself. DC United didn't play very well, and ended up losing to Sporting Kansas City in the added time at the end. However, it was great to spend time with my friends at my first professional soccer game.

Awesome seats


Just because I've made these post just about my week, doesn't mean I haven't been following the clown show you call this election year or international politics. For anyone who is unaware, I am a proud Democrat, and I really haven't been embarrassed more for my country than these Republicans who are running for the nomination. The stuff they have said in debates and elsewhere since the summer is absolutely appalling (except for Huntsman). If you haven't seen the Islamophobic nature of last summer, disgraceful rhetoric, an audience booing a gay solider, people clapping for the death penalty, absolute misunderstanding of how the world works, or just talk of going back to the same policies of which got us into this economic mess in the first place I suggest you do some research. Make an opinion on your own, through credible sources (not everything posted online is unbiased and true, this seems so simple but people believe anything.)

 What we need in this country are American solutions. Too often, our "leaders" are mired down in debate the problem, but do not offer any solution to fix it. I am going to offer some of my thoughts on this and 2012 next week.

Get pumped.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Nothing in My Way

First off - Shannon, I hope you feel better soon! :)

Its been quite a week, and I mean that in a good way.

As usual, I worked a half-day on Monday then went back to TWC for programming. Norman Y. Mineta, former congressman from California and Secretary of Transportation, came to speak. He spoke about his political beginnings, his early childhood, and some decisions as Secretary. He was a funny guy too, it was absolutely a pleasure being able to listen to him. And keep in mind, he was a Democrat working for G.W. Bush. He puts country before party, and unfortunately we don't see that from politicians these days. Now politicians debate about the problems, and not the solutions.

Former Secretary Norman Mineta

Nothing much to report on Tuesday, it was a slow week in the office. I did go and sign up for the State Dept library. They have an incredible amount of resources, and going into the stacks is a bit creepy. The stacks are in small corridors closed off from the rest of the hallways.

On Wednesday I went to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, the subcommittee on Maritime Transportation in the Rayburn building to attend a hearing about the COSTA Concordia (the cruise ship that sank in Italy). We were there to see if any new proposals were going to be brought to the IMO (International Maritime Organization) in light of the accident. The committee was extremely substantive and bipartisan, and a Vice-Admiral of the Coast Guard answered questions. Essentially, the captain and the crew did just about EVERYTHING wrong that they could have. They did not do practice drills, they told people to go back to their cabins, and no one knew where the life vests were. Thankfully, the Italian coast guard had their act together. Additionally, it was noted that the American cruise industry has numerous inspections and is relatively safe. A panel of survivors of the Concordia cruise told of a harrowing story of their experiences and reaffirmed that during a separate American cruise, they were properly shown were to go, and what to do in case of an emergency.

The House Committee

It was very cool to see come congressmen in person after reading about them constantly. Rep. LoBiondo (R-NJ) was chair of the subcommittee, Rep. Larsen (D-WA) was ranking member, Chairman (of the bigger committee) Rep. Mica (R-FL), and Rep. Cummings (D-MD) were there. Very, very cool. The Republicans and Democrats were telling jokes to each other at breaks, you don't often hear about this in the papers. Coming back from the hearing, it was like a monsoon outside. My umbrella flipped inside-out because of the wind...

I got some research done on Thursday - I am getting a good footing on my paper. There are a few set backs in terms of finding information for specific organizations, but I am feeling confident of the way the paper is going to form up. We also got a new intern on our office - she is very cool.

On Friday, I got to go into work late because I attended a policy discussion on the challenges of rouge states (Iran and North Korea) on the non-proliferation agenda at the Brookings Institution. The President of Brookings, as well as senior fellows and President of the MacArthur Foundation, spoke about the issues. While they were pretty grim on a peaceful outcome with Iran, they were cautiously optimistic about North Korea. On Iran, they said that deterrence will not work because once they finally acquire nuclear potential, other states in the region will want them too - causing a domino effect. The best outcome, they said, was that they allow full clearance to constant IAEA inspection so that Iran complies with the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) and both sides ease back. However, they noted that military options are the only sure-fire way to know that Iran cannot continue to develop weapons.

Pretty grim.

For North Korea, they were optimistic about the recent deal to stop activities at their power plant in exchange for food. They noted that they need to see action before they get any food. However, the speakers explained that this could all be strategic diplomacy - South Korea has presidential elections this year and North Korea may want a friendlier president to win.

The biggest threat they argued, and I agree, is the threat of unauthorized nuclear transfer - North Korea already did it with Syria (before Israel took it out). The threat of transfer of nuclear technology or warheads to other states or non-state actors would be devastating to national security. Nuclear weapons, fission materials, or other technology is not something to pass around.

Full house at Brookings

This next week is going to be busy. A desk officer for the UPU is back from his conference, other meetings are held this week, Sec. Clinton and Mrs. Obama are speaking at State on Thursday for Woman's Day, my family is coming, and my girlfriend are coming to visit! On top of that, I am going to the DC United home opener on Saturday with my friend from school and an alum, and potentially seeing more alums on Friday!

I also have my long awaited meeting with DAS (Deputy Assistant Secretary) Nerissa Cook on Wednesday!

Until next week!


Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Center of the Pentagon

This semester is zooming by. In about a week in a half, I'll be half done. Weird.

I spent my Monday coming home from Dickinson. Now I have heard a lot of horrible stories about Greyhound buses but my ride, while a bit too expensive, was actually pretty smooth. The Greyhound bus station is less than a block and a half away from where I live, so it's a pretty good deal.

Tuesday I met Kwaku Aning, one of the six Deputy Director-Generals of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency, very relevant in the news). He spoke very good English, and demonstrated that the IAEA wants to expand its mission. While still being the international expert in nuclear safeguards and technology, he presented a vision where the IAEA helps agriculture, medicine, and other trades internationally through technical diffusion. He had some basic talking points, but was pretty consistent throughout his presentation.

Mr. Aning

On Wednesday I worked a half day and went to a tour of the Pentagon! Just so you know, the structure of the building is massive. Now I thought State had a big building. But the Pentagon has enough square footage wide than the Empire State Building is tall. Go figure that. The visitors entrance used to be a long escalator down to the metro stop, but since 9/11 they closed it up and built a lobby with quilts honoring those who died that day. While the tour was short, it was pretty cool. They took us through the shops (there is a Best Buy inside of the Pentagon, not kidding), and into the central courtyard. Back in the day, the Soviets would use satellite imagery to spy over D.C. (which everyone still does), and were really freaked out about the center of the Pentagon courtyard. To imagery back then, the building in the center looked like a top of a missile silo. So in the worst case scenario of an all out war, the Soviets though that if they hit the center of the Pentagon it would explode the silo.


In the center is a cafe, fitted with a Sbarros and another chain restaurant. So much for missiles. In addition, they took us to the part of the Pentagon where the airplane hit, and the memorial chapel. Pretty powerful stuff. It was very interesting to be inside the building, and was a great experience.

Secretary Hillsberg giving a Press briefing

Thursday afternoon my adviser, Prof. Wolff came to visit me at State. From what I can tell, he had a great time. We spoke with my supervisors which were happy with the work I was doing (WOOOO!) and I took him on a mini tour while discussing my research paper proposal. Here is my topic:

In the past decade, U.S. engagement in multilateral international institutions have served to further our global  interests. Due to successes in the UPU, WIPO, ICAO, IMO, and UNEP, the U.S. should continue to be involved in these institutions to further steer the world agenda in the path of U.S. interests.

I am working on the language and presentation of the thesis, but that's the overview of it. My paper will include four organizations, so one will be cut out. A lot of research ahead of me.

On Friday I attended and IAEA policy discussion on Governance and Reform. I was rather interesting to see critiques of the agency and also new studies showing possible linkages of Technological Cooperation and desire for a nuclear weapons programs. It was attended by U.S. Government Officials from all departments as well as a lot of State people.

This weekend met up with some State Dept interns. We had a great time getting to know eachother and its never bad to make connections. I saw Keystone alum Dan Owins '09 and went to see Act of Valor. I strongly recommend it, a very cool, engaging, revealing movie into what goes on inside a SEALs unit and how special forces work. Its also based on true acts.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

This really is the Good Life

This has been a pretty stellar week.

I want to start off by dispelling some potential misunderstandings. Though I went in to TWC pretty hard in my last post, by no means do I not enjoy my time in DC. I may not like the way the program is structured, but I absolutely love my time in the capitol city, and I can't wait for more exciting things coming up in the next few weeks. If you definitely can't change something (like the program), I am going to make the most of it! I am not going to stress over a little things like this, I am having an incredible experience.

On Monday my program group in TWC went to the World Bank for an information session. I have to say, that building is pretty cool. I am a sucker for buildings which have have outside facades, indoors. Ok, I realize may not be making sense, so here's what I mean:

Inside the World Bank

My Instagram inside the National Portrait Gallery

 Anyway, the info session was productive. A day or two after our session, current World Bank President Robert Zoellick announced his retirement. The World Bank has consistently been controlled by an American and the IMF a European. There is a lot of speculation that Secretary Clinton will take the job after her departure from DoS in 2013. I doubt that personally. She's been in the public life since the late 80s non-stop (starting as First Lady of Arkansas, First lady of the U.S., Senator from New York, Presidential candidate, and finally Secretary of State.) I think she'll take time off.

In the first part of this week I finished up preparations for the Postal Advisory Committee meeting (which I'll be attending) and finished a separate IO tasker which I am hesitant about talking about. Sorry, its sensitive.

Later in the week I was given a few more tasks. I was given an assignment to create an executive summary of a report I did so that AS Brimmer, or others in the department can look at it and put in a plug about the U.S. UPU candidate while they're abroad. Mrs. Clinton may potentially be glancing at my report. That's an intern's dream.

I was also given an assignment helping the U.S. delegation to the Rio +20 climate conference prepare for the meeting in a few months. Its amazing to be working on all this stuff. However small, effective diplomacy in multilateral stages help U.S. prestige, change opinions, and it is an opportunity for the U.S. to re-engagement and lead the international community.

Sometimes, its the little things that count the most.

I am actually writing this blog from Dickinson! President's day is on Monday, so I have a three day weekend. I never knew how much I missed all my friends. If any of you are reading this, its been good to see you all again.

Next week there are meetings which I'll have to escort some people from different international institutions. I'll be taking notes for a summary report for at least one of these meetings.You can't tell over this blog, but I am very excited, VERY excited! I am also taking a pentagon tour on Wednesday, which should be awesome. Its probably not as difficult to navigate as state, but I've been wrong in the past.

This week has been a lot of fun, and I am looking forward to another week! I've been making a lot of food on my own, you can call me chef Hillsberg from now on. Funny story: I saw a Keystone alum out last Saturday night. He was a big name at Dickinson and doing even bigger things.

Small world, right?