Hi my name is Makkie and I study Political Science and Communication Studies at UM. I spent this past summer in Washington, D.C. interning with the Youth Programs Division of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the US Department of State. The Youth Programs Division is responsible for implementing all of the exchange programs that the State Department funds for both American and foreign high school students.
My global theme is politics and culture and my challenge was figuring out how to promote cross-cultural understanding by engaging youth. Working with the Youth Programs Division was the perfect fit for me to explore this as I believe exchange programs are one of the best ways to promote this. Another reason I chose to intern with Youth Programs was because of my personal connection to one of their programs. I was able to spend the summer after my senior year of high school studying Arabic in Morocco thanks to a State Department Program called the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) which is implemented by the office I worked with this summer. This program was life changing for me and sparked an interest in dedicating my professional career to helping others get the same global exposure I did through this program.
There were about 20 employees in my division and only 3 interns so we were able to experience a wide variety of the work that they do. During my internship, I helped to compile grant packages, take meeting minutes, prepare briefing materials for senior department officials, write press releases, facilitate diplomatic simulations, and represent the Youth Programs Division at conferences and while meeting with members of congress. My favorite task of my internship was being able to help plan events for students who were either beginning or ending their exchange programs. Having the opportunity to interact with both American students and students from around the world and hear about their experiences was very inspiring and motivating.
Overall, this experience further enforced the value of exchange programs for me and opened my eyes to many different career possibilities that I hadn’t previously considered. I also gained a much deeper understanding of and appreciation for all the behind the scenes work that goes into making these programs possible. I really appreciated having the chance to interact with people from so many different cultures and learned so much from each of them. I never would have thought I could have had such an international experience without even leaving the country! Thanks so much to the Franke Family and the GLI program for making this experience possible for me!