Tuesday, November 24, 2009

11/16 Remobilizing NATO Meeting at the CSPC

Last Monday we finally had our Remobilizing NATO meeting with some of the experts on our expert and leadership teams. Getting to be in this meeting and listening to the thoughts and suggestions of all these extremely knowledgeable people was an amazing experience and I am sure I will remember it (along with my humble beginnings as an intern) for the rest of my career. This meeting was a vital portion to completing our assessment as well.

The meeting was very successful and we had about 25 of the over forty attend or call-in. The main focus of this meeting was the dilemma of the entire region, mainly the Af-Pak problem and how it should be dealt with. Many of the experts discussed implications of a more aggressive relationship with Pakistan and how this would affect relationships with India and create political unstability throughout the reason. They also discussed how communications between the United States and other NATO countries need to be increased for true and effective measures can be taken to provide a successful front in Afghanistan. The information and opinions that they provided will be invaluable to our final assessment.

Something that was very noticeable at this meeting was the absence of women experts in this field. Out of the 35 people in the room and on the phone I was one of three women and only two of the experts were women. Even on our experts list there are only four or five female experts. This showed me the lack of the female perspective there is in international relations and the importance of making an impact and being knowledgable to provide an example for future generations of women. I am even more determined now than ever to become an important figurehead in the realm of international relations.

Preparation for the meeting was long and arduous. Helping Ryan prepare for prepared me immensely for what I may try to do in the future. Even though at times the process of creating invitations, finding experts to invite and who were commited and reflected the ideals of the project, calling experts to confirm, creating an agenda for the meeting, and moderating and explaining the project.

I am currently assigned the task of transcribing the majority of this meeting, so this will be a very consuming task for my last few days.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Reporting on Not Too Much to Report

This blog is coming a little late, but the week's been hectic...

Monday the 16th is our big meeting and the past week was all in preparation for that very purpose. To that end, pretty much all I did was make calls and send e-mails and review the assessment....again. Therefore this is a commentary on the lulls of work.

There haven't been many, especially with the Remobilizing NATO project, but this past week there was a lull, a big one that pervaded the entirety of the week. I did not really expect this to happen and I was caught off guard when it did. About them: they happen and you have to adapt to them whether that's finding something else to do or just taking a break. Finding something else to do is very important to the other programs in your company. If any of them need help you could be very important to a project that they are working on. I know that most people were I work could usually use help, whether its doing massive amounts of research or reviewing a letter. Anything that you can do will make them more productive and their projects more successful. The other thing that you can do it just relax and take it easy, especially if other people also have lulls. Conversations I have had with my co-workers during down time have been some of the most entertaining and this keeps the atmospere light and I was able to form better bonds with the people who I am with 16 hours a week. It helped put me at ease and learn things about the people I work with.

Down-time is pretty important to the relationships that you build at work and they should not be tossed aside as nothing. Forming a connection with the people you work with can be helpful for your performance at work and your overall experience. Making connections with others is also important after you leave a job to go to a new one. In Intro to IR Research we are learning about social networks right now, and this internship has opened up mine quite a bit.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

It's on the Hill!

It's official! Our assessment on the potential NATO Country Contributions to ISAF is on the Hill and ready to go to Edinburgh this week! The irony of it is that we spelled "capabilities" wrong on the front cover...how that got past the dozen or so people who reviewed the assessment, we shall never know.

Anyway this week was much more relaxed and after going "NATO-lite" for the week, I have had some time to look at the crossover between this internship and my SIS Intro to International Relations Research Course. I got a new book called Seeds of Terror, by Gretchen Peters this week for my research proposal on the effects poppy farmers have on nation-building in Afghanistan and in our final assessment we are including a section on how failure to create a stable Afghanistan will affect the amount of heroin and drug-related deaths in Europe and how the Taliban are thriving because of this industry. A stronger Taliban means a stronger al Qaeda means a greater threat for European security. So I found this really good book connecting this drug money to the Taliban and Ryan (my boss) was pretty excited because he hadn't seen it before! Yay me! Another contribution to the assessment! So I'm using this book for my paper and the assessment! Two birds with one stone!

This week I got to face one of my biggest fears again....calling! Only this time I was calling the actual experts on our list (and sometimes their assistants)! This was much more nerve-wracking than any calling I had ever done so I ended up writing a script for myself. This method worked pretty well and I would definately suggest doing it if you have this same fear. If you freeze up when someone picks up on the other end of the line all you have to do it read!

Thursday I also got to spend half of the day working at our Conference being held for the college students accepted into our Fellowship program. It was really nice to take that time away from sitting at a desk and interact with students more my age. A lot of them are writing about problems abroad for their Fellowship papers and I found many of them very interesting. It was also very good to see how the Center reaches out to the national community!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

1 More Week!

Okay, so the final assessment MUST be done by Friday...if it's not then we are going to have a problem getting it to Congress members who are a part of the Parliamentary Assembly of NATO. According to our Congressional Correspondent at the Center, there are many Congressmen interested in the project, and this is also why we need the "mini-report" for them to have as talking points. The Parliamentary Assembly will meet from November 13th through November 17th in Edinburgh, Scotland. This could be the break-in point for our study and assessment and will hopefully be a moving point for many NATO countries to see exactly where each country is lacking in contributions and a rallying point for those who would like to see a change in NATO and ISAF commitment. To see this project talked about, or even just potentially make a difference in contributions, would be something amazing for me to see because I have worked so closely with those who have contributed to the assessment and have had such an involvement in reviewing and putting it together. Only time will tell however, whether or not this assessment really makes a difference.

Over the time that I have been working on this project I have seen it transform from a project aimed at changing NATO to a project aimed at changing contributions to NATO and getting countries to adjust their inputs to troop numbers in Afghanistan. I often see the same thing happeneing in my own papers, the evolution of an idea or a purpose, especially when a paper lasts throughout a semester or a year. It is comforting to know that this also happens in the professional world as well. There are always revisions that can be made, no matter how much you think that it's done.

This internship in coordination with my Intro to International Relations Research course has really taught me a lot about researching and there are some parts that intersect and there are some that don't. My paper that I am doing in my class is a miniature part of our assessment and I find myself having some slight expertise in the drug area of our assessment, being able to pull out numbers from my head and knowing what websites to look at for information and also knowing who are experts in the area. Ironically, one person, Ahmed Rashid, on our expert advisory team, wrote one of the books I am using for my paper. There is much more crossover than I thought there would be and I am surprisingly excited and very pleased with how it is turning out!