I would not have thought that eight weeks could have gone by so quickly.
I think the experience went above and beyond in fulfilling the learning goals I set at the beginning. Everything, from my tasks in the office to living in Kiev, contributed toward fulfilling those goals. One such goal was to gain professional experience. I was, and still am, interested in working for the U.S. government in some capacity, preferably doing something involving nuclear issues and Eastern Europe, and this internship was excellent. It gave me the opportunity to work for a State Department program and meet U.S. government officials. Through talking with colleagues, I learned how different working for the U.S. government was from working for a Ukrainian government organization, in terms of transparency.
Another of my learning goals was to learn about Eastern Europe. I talked to colleagues at lunch about all sorts of things from Russia’s meddling in the Crimea to the large amount of corruption in the Kiev’s city government. I sampled borsht and vareniki (dumplings) and salo (the national dish, which is pretty much lard), which are cornerstones of Ukrainian cuisine. I had the opportunity to practice speaking Russian, but at work my colleagues spoke very impressive English, so there were no communication problems. Having the opportunity to travel to Moldova offered a unique chance to travel to another former Soviet republic and to learn about Transnistria (Moldova’s eastern territory has declared its independence, but no country recognizes it). This is an excellent Economist article about Transnistria and other similar conflict zones in former Soviet republics. I ended the summer with a much deeper understanding of Ukrainian culture and politics. I won’t forget the excellent summer I spent there or the kindness of the friends I made. Ukraine in the world today
The summer has helped to further cement my interests in nonproliferation and the former Soviet Union, and I hope to continue to interweave those interests with my studies at Brandeis and future internships and jobs. To someone with similar interests, I would say, be willing to take risks. If you are really interested in certain issues, find an organization that deals with them and contact the organization. Even if there is not internship program, inquire about a possible internship. There are a lot of other people interested in international relations-related careers, so I think it is important to build up an impressive and unique resume, something to make you stand out.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to spend the summer in Ukraine. I returned to the US with so many stories and experiences that I will always treasure.
Jennifer Ginsburg, ’14