#ElliottProud: Maen Hammad

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Maen Hammad is a Palestinian-American who graduated with an MA in International Affairs in 2017. Maen concentrated his studies in International Law and Organizations and also Conflict Resolution. While at the Elliott School, Maen interned at Human Rights Watch, UNHCR, and the PeaceTech LabMaen currently works in the field of human rights inn the Middle East. When Maen isn’t working, he holds a volunteer role as the Local Coordinator for SkatePal– an organization that fosters skateboarding in Palestine. Maen also is an independent documentary filmmaker, usually focusing his work on refugees and impact stories. 

Describe your current position and what are your primary responsibilities?

I currently work with Amnesty International in their recently opened regional office in Jerusalem.

I serve as the Research, Campaign, and Communication Assistant. My primary duties consist of helping the research team on both ongoing and reactive research into a variety of human rights violations and documentation by both Israeli authorities and Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and also the Gaza Strip. I also coordinate with our Campaigner in order to strategize and optimize our advocacy globally. Much of my work also revolves around intense coordination with our London/Beirut offices.

On the side, I also volunteer as the Local Coordinator for SkatePal- a charity organization that fosters skateboarding in Palestine. I spent much of my life skateboarding, so this post is a great way for me to support young Palestinians with a great self-development outlet.

On the other side, I am an independent documentary filmmaker. So when I’m not working or skating, you might see me lugging around a camera doing interviews on an impact story. Check out my last documentary for a look into Syrian refugees living in my hometown of Detroit, Michigan.

What are the current trends driving the future of your career field and what advice would you provide an Elliott School graduate student that is interested in your field of work?

The future of my career depends on being proficient in a wide variety of skill sets; being able to do more, better, and faster is no longer an asset on a CV, but instead, a requirement.

For example, in my role, I need to not only know the basic framework of international humanitarian law, but I also need to have a highly nuanced writing skill-set in order to contextualize a complicated human rights violation, I then must be capable of quickly using my communication and social media skills to effectively create a campaign message; all of this, within about 2 hours.

The current trend is that of being able to do more, with full international coordination- a trend that means a student in the realm of international affairs needs a full arsenal of complementary skill-sets to bring into the workplace.

Lucky for you, the Elliott School is in tune with this trend and gives students the tools to bolster their skill-sets while studying. The skills courses and the capstone project definitely encouraged me to do more than just the status quo.

Further, in combination with internships throughout my two years, I was prepared to enter the job market with more than just a masters degree from the Elliott School.

When you need inspiration, you … ?

When in need of inspiration I usually watch VICE News documentaries. I haven’t decided just yet, but I think my dream job would be to become a war journalist. Why? Filmmaking and storytelling in the context of armed conflict is something that always inspires my work and reminds me why I do what I do. And not just this, but the human dimension of armed conflict is something that usually gets swept under the table when reading a policy paper or research article.

My second source of inspiration building would probably be a play-through of a Kanye West album- which one exactly depends on the mood, but I would say My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy most usually does the job.

If you won the lottery but could only spend money on three items/causes, what would they be?

  1. Skateboarding for development programs. It might not make much sense for the non-skater, but skateboarding is one of the most effective self-development tools out there. Skateboarding serves as a mechanism to boost self-esteem, fosters interaction with one’s peers, and it empowers young people- most especially in places that need all three of these.
  2. Full tuition grants to refugees in order to study international affairs. I am consistently inspired by young and creative refugees. There also is an ever growing need for refugees to enter the sphere of international affairs, as they are directly related to the consequences of conflict. Not just this, but refugees often have more insight into the arena of international affairs than any think tank researcher in DC or NY.
  3. Realistically the rest would go to my student loans. I was thankful to have a fellowship to study at GW. But living in DC wasn’t cheap.

The #ElliottProud series highlights Elliott School MA alumni and seeks to answer common questions posed by prospective, current, and incoming students. For more information or to submit questions, e-mail esiagrad@gwu.edu.

#WeAreElliott: Ian Hutchinson

Blog- #WAE Hutchinson

Ian Hutchinson graduated from Indiana University in 2015 with a BA in International Studies and Political Science, where he did fieldwork with Jamaican Maroons in the Blue Mountains. He is currently a second year MA candidate in the International Affairs Program at the Elliott School, focusing on American Foreign Policy. He will graduate in May of 2018. Ian has previously worked for the Wilson Center in the Wilson Quarterly and is currently Editor-in-Chief of the International Affairs Review. He also writes a foreign policy column for his Indiana hometown newspaper in his spare time.

Where do you currently work, intern or volunteer, and how does it fit in with your career goals?

I’m currently working as the Editor-in-Chief of the graduate school journal, International Affairs Review. IAR is a great platform for grad students to dip their toes in the water of policy writing and managing the online side of the publication is an experience I really enjoy! It’s very satisfying to help fellow graduate students find their voice to fine-tune their writing skills. In Washington, being a strong writer is just an absolutely vital skill; you will not succeed without it. I’m interested in working in think tanks and foreign policy research after graduation, so running a student journal will be a great stepping stone to that!

What classes/professional skills courses have you found most helpful in your work/intern/volunteer experiences and how have they been useful?

I took Analyzing International Economic Data and it was a really useful course! You didn’t need to have any in-depth quantitative skills to get a lot out of the course. When working at the Wilson Quarterly over the summer, it was helpful to have had a primer on finding numbers on the threads and pathways of the international economy. Anyone can find qualitative info in a second, but finding reputable data can be trickier; having this primer really helped me find the numbers I needed to support my work.

What advice do you have for first-year students who are starting their internship/work experience search?

Meet people in person! If you’re interested in research, get an account over at LinkTank and go to panels and events, then mingle with people when the talk is finished. A lot of experts are very willing to help students who express an honest interest in their field! You can go up to an expert in a topic that interests you, ask for an informational interview, and most of the time, people will accept! Not only will you learn a lot from them, but make a positive impression and they might remember you later on when you need that insider tip at your dream job.

If you could recommend one city outside of the US that people should visit, which city would you recommend and why?

The city of Ancud in Chilé. It’s a small town on the western coast of the largest island in Chilé, called Chiloé. The town is full of charming, colorful little houses and little panaderías where you can get pastries and empanadas. Just a little bit outside of town, you can go hiking down massive, white sand Pacific coast beaches that stretch for miles without seeing another soul. If you’re lucky, you’ll see some penguins or maybe a pudú, a native species of tiny deer.

The #WeAreElliott series highlights current M.A. students at the Elliott School and seeks to answer common questions posed by prospective and incoming students. For more information or to submit questions, e-mail esiagrad@gwu.edu.

War on the Rocks LIVE!

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RSVP Here!

Ryan Evans is the founder and Editor in Chief of War on the RocksOriginally launched by Evans as a podcast in 2013, War on the Rocks has become a widely-read platform for national security policy analysis articles by practitioners and scholars on its website. It has also spun off the popular Bombshell podcast, featuring the perspectives of women in national security, as well as the scholarly journal Texas National Security Review. Evans previously served as a Social Scientist on a U.S. Army Human Terrain Team in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, as assistant director at the Center for the National Interest, and as a researcher for the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence at King’s College London, where he also received his Master degree.

#ElliottProud: Sina Azodi

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Sina Azodi received his BA (2010) and MA (2013) in International Relations from the Elliott School. He worked as a Research Assistant at the National Security Archive and Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars. He also worked form 2011-2016 at Gelman Library’s Access Services. If you were a late-night person, you probably saw him sitting at the entrance desk. He has been working as an independent Iran researcher and has published articles on US-Iranian relations, non-proliferation and Iran foreign policy.

Describe your current position and what are your primary responsibilities?

I am currently a Political Science Ph.D. student at the University of South Florida, and a Graduate Assistant at USF Center for Strategic and Diplomatic Studies. I research for the Director of Center, Dr. Mohsen Milani. I am also a contributing writer to the Atlantic Council’s Iran Initiative program.

What Elliott School courses would you recommend for students interested in your field?

I encourage Elliott School students to take advantage of Ambassador Edward (Skip) Gnehm’s courses. He brings exceptional experience and knowledge to class and students can learn a lot. I enjoyed taking his classes both in undergraduate and graduate level. I remain indebted to him for his assistance and mentoring throughout the years that I have known him.

What part of your career do you find most challenging and how do you stay motivated?

Being a full-time Ph.D. student and continuing my own research is challenging; both require a significant amount of time and work. I strive to make myself a better scholar and that is my main driving force.

Best compliment you’ve received?

During my student years, it was, “ You never leave Gelman; you live here.” I want to send a shoutout to the “Gelbucks” staff who kept me up during my long Gelman nights; student life would have been much more difficult without their presence.

The #ElliottProud series highlights Elliott School MA alumni and seeks to answer common questions posed by prospective, current, and incoming students. For more information or to submit questions, e-mail esiagrad@gwu.edu.

#WeAreElliott: Ashley McGeary

Blog- #WAE McGeary

Ashley McGeary earned her B.A from Rice University, majoring in Art History and Classical Studies and is a Global Communication M.A Candidate at the Elliott School. She currently works at VOX Global in the Washington D.C. office as a Public Affairs and Crisis Fellow after recently completing a six-month tenure via the Freeman Foundation Fellowship in Seoul, South Korea. During her time in Seoul, Ashley worked with The Asia Foundation on a variety of international and domestic proposals and projects while also completing a semester abroad at Ewha Womans University and a program through the GW Institute for Korean Studies. In her spare time, she volunteered with North Korean refugee children. A New England-born, Connecticut-native, Ashley is an avid golfer, yogini, and hiker. Yet, food remains her favorite form of communication. Whether in the kitchen preparing fresh pasta or on a quest for the best ramen in Japan, Ashley embraces it all.

When did you realize you wanted an international career and what inspired you to select your program or concentration at the Elliott School?

After living in the Republic of Korea for 2.5 years, I realized I wanted to continue living abroad and be involved with the international community, however, this was far from what I had studied in college, so I knew I needed some “knowledge,” which resulted in applying to the Elliott School of International Affairs. The 2016 election was shocking to me, as it was to most, and when thinking about what was most critical for an international career in a post-2016 world, I identified communications as the stand-out field. Thus, I switched from the International Affairs to the Global Communication program and found a field that was flexible and dynamic for my career.

What resources (online or offline) have proven to be the most valuable in helping you reach your career success?

  • Tara Sonenshine at Graduate Student Services (GSS) has been an incredible mentor, supporter, and motivator for my career path.
  • LinkedIn is a wonderfully sneaky search engine that provides great assistance for career research!
  • Regular meetings with my academic advisor and international programs advisor have helped keep me on track for graduation which is ultimately what will most give the most impact in launching my career.

What piece of advice/wisdom would you have given yourself when you started your program now that you’ve completed your first year?

Sign up for Korean classes for study abroad ahead of arriving at the foreign university and take an intensive Korean language class over winter break.

How do you feel about pineapple on pizza?

No feelings, because the two do not belong in the same sentence. Those who insist on putting the former on the latter, are incorrect.

The #WeAreElliott series highlights current M.A. students at the Elliott School and seeks to answer common questions posed by prospective and incoming students. For more information or to submit questions, e-mail esiagrad@gwu.edu.

Freeman Foundation Grant Spring Deadline Approaching

countries for FFG

The Elliott School strongly encourages students to integrate their course of study with practical international internship experiences.  Accordingly, Graduate Student Services (GSS) offers a limited number of competitive Freeman Foundation Fellowship grants for currently enrolled Elliott School graduate students participating in international internships in East Asia and/or Southeast Asia and around the world. Eligible countries include:

  • Cambodia
  • China
  • East Timor
  • Hong Kong
  • Indonesia
  • Japan
  • Laos
  • Macau
  • Malaysia
  • Mongolia
  • Myanmar
  • Philippines
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam

Eligibility Requirements

• You must have secured an internship in East Asia and/or Southeast Asia or have started an internship located in East Asia or Southeast Asia at an organization that offers substantial opportunities directly related to your degree program and specialty.
• Your internship must require at least 20 hours per week for a minimum of 10 weeks.
• You must be a currently enrolled Elliott School graduate student and have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.
• International students are eligible to apply, but the internship cannot be located in the United States.
Spring 2018 applications are due by Friday, December 1, 2017, by 11:59 pm EST.

#ElliottProud: J. Nicole Salo

Blog- #EP Salo

J. Nicole Salo came to D.C. from Colorado, where she obtained a B.A. in International Affairs – Political Economy from the University of Northern Colorado. She entered the Elliott School during the Fall 2015 semester, and graduated in May 2017 with an M.A. in Security Policy Studies, with concentrations in National Defense and Security and Science, Technology and Security. Shortly after beginning school at Elliott, she began an internship with the federal government, which has now converted over to full-time position.

Describe your current position and what are your primary responsibilities?

I am currently working for the United States Government conducting research and writing regarding foreign policy topics.

What part of your experience at the Elliott School best prepared you for your current position? (Specific classes, student orgs, career development office, etc.)

I absolutely credit the Formal Briefing skills class with honing that particular skill up to a level where I felt comfortable briefing management and others within my office. As important as regular classes are, choosing and attending skills classes that beef up your professional know-how is critical.

How does what you’re doing now compare to what you thought you would be doing when you first started your program at the Elliott School?

It’s pretty close! I definitely felt the pull towards government work when I first got to D.C., and I’ve been lucky enough to find a position that closely relates to my degree and the coursework I completed at GW.

How do you feel about pineapple on pizza?

Hey, whatever floats your boat! Personally, I think the question is WHY would you ever want pineapple on pizza?

The #ElliottProud series highlights Elliott School MA alumni and seeks to answer common questions posed by prospective, current, and incoming students. For more information or to submit questions, e-mail esiagrad@gwu.edu.

#WeAreElliott: Grayson Shor

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Grayson Shor is a Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellow in the Asian Studies MA program at the Elliott School. A native of Santa Barbara, California, he has spent over three years living and working across Southeast and East Asia. Such experiences include managing a Beijing real estate group, manufacturing technology products in Guangdong province, ethnographic fieldwork in Thailand, and serving as a GIS-environment specialist with The Asia Foundation in Myanmar. 

Where do you currently work, intern or volunteer, and how does it fit in with your career goals?

Currently, I am a FLAS fellow with a heavier course load, so I am fully focused on my studies. However, I worked in the Elliott School’s Graduate Student Services Office in the spring and held an internship as a Freeman fellow with The Asia Foundation in Myanmar this summer. Both of these experiences helped me pinpoint exactly what direction I intend to take my career and also allowed me to identify incorrect assumptions I had about DC and the international affairs field. In my opinion, pairing in-class learning congruently with work experience is the best way to leverage your education here at Elliott.

What strategies have proven most helpful in making the most of your time at the Elliott School or D.C.?

Three things, time management, ‘showing up’, and curiosity. Graduate school is no joke; if you are genuinely devoting the amount of effort your courses are due you’ll find that your free time each week is quite limited. So, come to school for what you are genuinely passionate about and interested in learning, not just what will look good on paper. If you don’t you’ll find yourself burnt out after a semester. Secondly, take time to go to events and meet people (AKA, show up). Most importantly, ask questions and be inquisitive. DC is unlike any other place in the world; ideas, cultures, and people from all corners of the globe live, work, and study here. Elliott is in the heart of where all of these converge, so take that curiosity for knowledge you have in class out onto the street as well.

What piece of advice/wisdom would you have given yourself when you started your program now that you’ve completed your first year?

Leave yourself some wiggle room to change parts of your ‘course of study’ (personal schedule of classes). Because I matriculated in the spring instead of fall, many of the core courses I had to take weren’t offered. So, I took electives. Although the classes were very interesting, my priorities have changed after being on the ground in DC and wish I had more electives to take. In short, priorities change, so start with your core classes and leave yourself room to change your course schedule after you’ve spent some time at Elliott and in DC.

Best hidden talent?

I’m a licensed massage therapist. I’ve always loved alternative medicine and thus, I’m always learning about new ways to self-heal and heal others.

The #WeAreElliott series highlights current M.A. students at the Elliott School and seeks to answer common questions posed by prospective and incoming students. For more information or to submit questions, e-mail esiagrad@gwu.edu.

International Internship Grant for Spring 2018

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Do you have a low paying or unpaid internship abroad this coming spring? Looking to get some extra funding to help offset expenses? Apply for the International Internship Grant!

The Elliott School strongly encourages students to integrate their course of study with practical international internship experiences.  Accordingly, Graduate Student Services (GSS) offers a limited number of competitive International Internship Grants up to $2,000.00 USD.

Eligibility Requirements

  • You must have secured an internship or have started an internship at an organization that offers substantial opportunities directly related to your degree program and specialty.
  • Your internship must require at least 30 hours per week for a minimum of 10 weeks.
  • You must be a currently enrolled Elliott School graduate student, planning to enroll the following semester after completing the internship, and have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.
  • International students are eligible to apply, but the internship cannot be located in your home country, or within the U.S.
  • The internship cannot be located in a country in which you have citizenship or foreign national status.

A copy of the entire Grant Application is due to Graduate Student Services no later than 5 p.m. on December 1, 2017.

APPLY TODAY!