Midway through my time at Columbia

The view of campus on my way to the office.

Things are going really well at the Cuba Program. Lately, we’ve been having a lot of people visiting from Cuba. We have a meeting a few days ago with the President/Director of the Fundación Antonio Nunez Jimenez which focuses largely on sustainable development and environmental issues in Cuba. I was able to meet her and sit in on the meeting. FANJ had worked with several European funders that also donated to our office (as well as with the Environmental Defense Fund, Ocean Doctor, and others from the US). They are in the process of building the first ever solar paneled “green” building in Cuba and wanted to see if Columbia could collaborate in any way. More information on the Fundación Antonio Nunez Jimenez can be found here: http://www.fanj.org/

I have also been gathering data for a book my boss/mentor is helping to write. The book is focused on academia and the direction the modern discipline of international relations (not specifically in relation to Cuba) is taking. It seems as though the field of international relations isn’t as “international” as one may think- the US hegemony is growing more and more evident. Looking at the graph below, one can note how the majority of the respondents to the question of who has the greatest influence on the discipline cite US-based scholars. In her upcoming book, my mentor is calling for a diversification of influences in the scholarship so that students can learn and grow from a variety of theories/countries rather than just one.

Graph made available by:

Maliniak, Daniel, Powers, Ryan, Peterson, Susan, Tierney, Michael J. January 08, 2018. “Is  International Relations a Global Discipline?            Hegemony, Insularity, and Diversity in the   Field.” Security studies, (accessed August 02, 2018). http://wmpeople.wm.edu/asset/index/smpete/ss2018

 

Also, some advice for students who have a passion but don’t know what to do with it:

I walked into this internship knowing only one thing: I loved Cuba and cared dearly for its financial/political progress. If you know that you’re passionate about something but don’t know how to make that into an internship, the university research setting is a great place to start. There are so many programs (at Columbia and elsewhere) that are similar to the Cuba program in the sense that they focus on one thing specifically. I was able to find my internship simply by Googling “research on Cuba NYC”; once you have a passion and know where you would want to pursue it, finding like-minded people is easier than you think!

And some tips for future interns who may be a bit shy (like myself):

Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Taking a genuine interest in your boss/mentors’ career should be part of your experience. Chances are, if they chose you for the position, they’ll want to share their knowledge and experiences with you. By asking, you’ll not only learn more about the industry but also more about what you may want from your own time there.

If you have any questions about the Cuba program or Columbia or NYC in general, please don’t hesitate to reach out! nataliagonzlz@brandeis.edu

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