6 minute read

SUMMER ABROAD

DANIEL MOLLOY

PEACE INSTITUTE OF CAMBODIA (PIC) PHNOM PENH CITY, CAMBODIA

MASTER OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS, MAY 2020 INTENDED

Where did you complete your internship for summer 2019?

I completed the MIA program's internship requirement over the 2019 summer session, from May to August, in Phnom Penh City, Cambodia. There, I worked for the second time with a local non-governmental organization (NGO) called the Peace Institute of Cambodia (PIC). PIC endeavors to promote a culture of peace, transparency and accountability, socio-political and socioeconomic justice, as well as post-conflict dialogue and reconciliation processes within the country. PIC initiatives are focused on conflict transformation, peace-building, and the advancement of human rights and democratization. PIC's unique methodological approach synthesizes youth and community empowerment and engagement strategies in order to progress the causes of post-conflict solidarity, political efficacy, as well as social virtue and civic responsibility.

What were the roles and responsibilities of your position?

With regard to my internship experience, I supported PIC institutional advancement through grant proposal writing and project development, as well as prospect/client research and outreach coordination. While in Cambodia, I was tasked with supporting PIC's Equal Start Project on capacity-building in the field of youth development – a project that we designed to educate and empower marginalized women and girls through entrepreneurship and business training. I also assisted PIC through research and data collection on many of our on-going projects throughout the country, such as our Community Learning Center Project that focuses on documenting systemic corruption and mismanagement.

What drew your interest in completing an internship abroad and why with PIC?

As an MIA student, going abroad for my internship experience was of paramount importance to me. Additionally, having interned in Cambodia once before during my undergraduate career, it seemed like a clear choice to me in that I would be able to build upon my understanding, knowledge, and expertise relative to the country's historical development as well as contemporary Cambodian society and politics.

What skills did you develop during your time in Cambodia?

While at PIC, I was able to reinforce my communication and multitasking skills. By working in a professional environment where English was not the primary language being used and where there were at least three different languages being utilized in documentation, I was able to continuously perfect my communication abilities with each passing day. In addition, I multitasked on seven different large and on-going projects at once throughout my four-month internship experience.

How do you see this experience fitting with your overall career intentions as you complete your graduate degree?

My internship placement certainly strengthened my abroad experience and prepared me for a job market where international and intercultural partnerships are increasingly prioritized, and globally-engaged and globally-competent candidates are increasingly sought after by employers.
Daniel Molloy attended a Peace News Institute  of Cambodia (PIC) dialogue, reconciliation, and peace-building initiative in Prey LangJungle, Steung Treng Province, Cambodia.

ABI DODBIBA

INDIA SUMMER SCHOOL FOR FUTURE INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT LEADERS

MASTER OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION, MAY 2020 INTENDED

Where did you complete your internship for summer 2019?

I participated in the India Summer School for Future International Development Leaders, organized by Duke University's Sanford School of Public Policy, in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Management Udaipur in Udaipur, India. The program was designed as a combination of theoretical, inclass learning complemented by practical experience. For the practical component of the program, the 29 participants (nine foreign students, and 20 Indian students and young professionals) were divided into groups of three or four and partnered up with a local NGO. My team was partnered with Action Research and Training for Health (ARTH), an Indian NGO active since 1997, working on family planning and reproductive and neonatal health.

What were the roles and responsibilities of your position?

ARTH asked our team to conduct research in a geographical area of their interest, and to develop a proposal for a future intervention that the NGO could undertake. Specifically, they wanted us to investigate whether residents in the area had any unmet healthcare needs that ARTH could cater to. To that purpose, our team was sent to Pansun, a tribal village in the district of Rajsamand, state of Rajasthan (Northern India) with a population of about 2,000 people. We spent 14 days conducting research in the village in what I can describe as a fully immersive experience. For the duration of the field work, we were hosted by a local family living in the village. Due to the village’s mountainous location, Pansun residents experience great poverty and very limited mobility. They are far from urban centers and need to travel great distances to get to a hospital. The main source of livelihood is agriculture. However, the lack of water in the village makes agriculture entirely dependent on rain. Lack of water and water quality are serious problems. Most households procure drinking water from wells, which are extremely polluted. Few households strain and/or boil the water before using it. Our research process included a social mapping exercise, interviews with a representative sample of village residents and healthcare workers, focus group discussions, group interviews, and two surveys. We found that villagers experience a number of health issues, including skin irritations and premature graying, malnutrition, chronic fatigue, dizziness, pregnancy related problems, blood pressure and heart problems, etc. Some of these issues require professional and continued medical care, but others could be reduced by improving certain practices around sanitation, hygiene, and nutrition. We identified adolescent girls as a group of interest. Girls this age are typically not allowed to make any independent decisions on their education or health. Yet, social norms require them to contribute to household chores, which they are also expected to carry out in the family they marry into. Thus, we concluded that addressing poor health information and inadequate health practices of adolescent girls can improve not only their own health outcomes, but also those of the households where they will live, and the community at large. We focused particularly on issues of personal and household sanitation, menstrual hygiene, and nutrition. ARTH mentored us throughout the research process, making sure that our research was rigorous and valid. After our field visit, we developed a full proposal for an intervention targeting adolescent girls as key players for improving the health of the community at large.

What drew your interest in completing an internship abroad and why with this program?

I chose to participate in this experience in part because of the reputation of the leading institution, Duke, but also because of the design of the program itself. I believed that the theoretical component of the program would help me put a more solid analytical frame to the competences in international development that I had gained through previous work experiences. At the same time, its practical component would allow me to challenge myself in a new dimension of international development in a region of the world so rich in history and intricate in its social dynamics.

What skills did you develop during your time in India?

This experience really helped me improve my research skills, my communication skills, and my cross-cultural competencies. My previous research experience had mainly been based on secondary research and data analysis. I hadn’t had the chance to conduct primary research of this scale and in such a challenging context. We were interviewing people on topics that are considered very private – almost taboo. It required a lot of thinking about wording and tact in how we approached our respondents. We also had to make sure that we were asking the right questions in the right way, since a misstep meant that we had not only lost that respondent, but also other peers that would hear the story of our “mistake.”

How do you see this experience fitting with your overall career intentions as you complete your graduate degree?

This experience fits very well with my goal of establishing a career path in international development. I believe that furthering my progress into this path requires updating my knowledge on policymaking mechanisms, which I am achieving through the MPA, and expanding my skills in the development and humanitarian sector by diversifying areas of interest, which this experience certainly contributed to.
Abi Dodbiba (left) social mapping with women in Pansun, Northern India.