This is not the end…

While there is so many words I want to say about this incredible journey, I am currently speechless.  From meeting renowned professionals, including Vijay Prashad and Kim Barker, to working with the two of the strongest and kindest women, Sarah and Mary, this internship was more than I ever expected.  However, the best part is knowing that it is not over yet because I will be back next semester. 

I started this internship assuming that I would be filing or inputting data, basically minimalistic work that would not make any significant impact.  However, I have never been more wrong in my life.  Throughout this semester, I had the opportunity to photograph Brown Bag lectures, Vijay Prashad and Ian Johnstone’s lectures.  Who would have thought that I could actually be good at using a professional camera?  Additionally, I had the opportunity to meet the man behind the words of The Darker Nations, a book I read in my globalization class.  I never thought that I would have the opportunity to meet one of the authors of a book I had to read in class, it made the assignment more personal.  Instead of completing the assignment and moving on, I am able to constantly think about it and remember the conversation I had with Prashad.  His work on western interventions in eastern societies has prompted me to focus my two research assignments this semester on further understanding the interventions. 

Additionally, I had the opportunity to interview Kim Barker.  I never would have imagined interviewing a person who interviewed political figures including Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif in a war zone.  As my earlier posts mention, this was truly one of the most incredible and unimaginable experiences of my life. 

While having all these memorable and educational experiences, the greatest part of this internship is Sarah Lyall-Combs and Mary Price.  They have inspired me to see the unimaginable, motivated me to reach beyond my perceived limits, and supported my internship and academic journeys every step of the way and I could never thank them enough.  I am privileged to know them and grateful for the opportunity to spend another semester learning from them. 

While this is the end of the semester, you will be hearing from me soon about Going Global!


P.S. I cannot wait to see all the incredible experiences I will have in the spring semester!


This semester has consumed my life and pushed me to constantly be moving. Each second I stop and reflect, I realize how many amazing opportunities I have been afforded and I can only hope the rest of my life will contain just as much chaos. I got to interview Vijay Prashad after reading his book The Death of the Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution. I had the chance to be standing right next to Kim Barker whose work as a journalist was made into the novel, The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and then turned into the major motion picture, “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”. Lastly, I was inspired by Grant Berry who is a Ph.D. candidate in Spanish and Language Science in the Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese. His CGS Brown Bag on linguistics pushed me to start my own research. 

This semester has shown me what is possible for one person to accomplish. I can’t imagine having spent my time this fall doing anything else. I feel truly encouraged and exhilarated by all I have experienced. It has been a pleasure to get to know amazing people such as Sarah, Mary, Emily H., Parker, and Rana throughout my journey. Each one of them has encouraged and motivated me to be a better writer, interviewer, global citizen, friend, and person. They have contributed to my successes along this journey. It has been quite the adventure this past semester and I know this experience will only encourage me to dive into new challenges as my life progresses.

I know from here, I will take this experience with me as I travel to France next semester. I will know how to be calm in stressful situations. I will know how to engage with others around me academically and socially as I make new friends. Lastly, I will know how to be confident and put myself into unknown situations. As I continue to grow and eventually graduate, I am grateful to have had this internship to help me understand myself and my determination to make a difference in our world. I want to fight for what I believe in. Now more than ever seems like the perfect time to start. 

Thanksgiving is next week and I want to end by saying simply how thankful I am to have had this opportunity. This is not goodbye but a see you soon.


Tina Fey is Kim Barker

The Kim Barker event was a wonderful success!  Every time I read a book or watch a movie, I am left with unanswered questions.  However, this was the very first time I was able to get my questions answered.  What happened to Farouq, how has Kim’s life changed since moving back to the states? These questions and many more were answered on the record and a few were answered off the record.  Check out my interview with her on the CGS youtube page!

img_5675After our eye opening interview, Kim Barker gave a phenomenal lecture to over 100 students, faculty and staff on Afghanistan’s foreign policy.  She even cracked a few jokes about the election, which brought some dark humor to Katz Auditorium.  Her lecture was based on five lessons she learned on her journey; do your research, adapt to the culture, figure out a strategy and stick to it, know how to get out and while you may not be able to change the world you can make a difference in someone’s life and they can change yours.  After answering a few questions, Barker signed a few books and chatted with a few of the audience members.

Lectures like this make this internship extremely rewarding. 

Almost done, for the semester…

       12 weeks. It has been 12 weeks since I started interning at the Center of Global Studies and it has truly been one of the most interesting experiences of my life.  It started off as a typical internship; inputting data, writing press releases, sending emails, etc.  However, things began to take an interesting shift when we had our first Brown Bag, “Fifty Shades of Zionism: Iranian Jews and Israel”.  As a Global Studies major, this lecture explained a topic that I was studying in class; extremely helpful.  Not only that, but the pictures I took during this Brown Bag were used to recap the event.  Seeing your work published on social media and around campus is truly a unique opportunity.  Also, I was able to freshen up on my photography skills.   

 img_5454My newly discovered photography skills came in handy when Vijay Prashad, a historian, journalist, author and professor, gave a lecture on Western Bombs, Eastern Societies.  He was definitely an inspiring person as he explained his research and knowledge without fearing the opposing view.  Once again, the week prior to his visit, I read a section of his book, Of Darker Nations, in one of my classes.  It was exciting to meet the author behind the words and hear him speak it instead of just reading it.  As a kinesthetic learner, I understand and remember concepts better by seeing and doing instead of reading.

     The next major lecture was Ian Johnstone’s talk on “The UN in crisis: priorities for the next Secretary-General”.  When I first heard about this lecture, I was overjoyed because I am considering a career with the UN after graduation.  Moreover, the Secretary-General plays a crucial part in the progress and instillment of development programs that affect the world.  (It is important to note the roles of interns during these lectures; one walks around and takes pictures, one takes a countless amount of notes to later on write an article for the newsletter and one runs the videocamera.  If all interns are there, then everything runs smoothly, but when there is only one intern available they have to get creative). It just so happened that I was the only intern available to attend this lecture and I was a bit nervous, how could I walk around and take pictures while taking notes to write an article?  I knew that I had to prioritize the note taking before the pictures, so I sat in the front row and started jotting down notes.  Every now and then I would pull out the camera and snap a few pics of Johnstone.  If you saw the pictures and wondered why they were all taken from the same angle, now you know.  Luckily, there was a Q&A and then I was able to walk around and try to take pictures from different angles.  This event taught me the importance of being adaptable and believing in yourself and your creative abilities.  If I ever have to do this again, I am confident I can handle it. screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-10-09-10-pm

      Finally, the event that I have been working on the most is happening this Thursday.  In early October, I was asked to write a press release and create a poster for Kim Barker’s lecture on November 10th.  Not knowing much about who Barker is or her significance, I borrowed Barker’s book, The Taliban Shuffle, from Sarah.  After reading the first few pages, I was truly invested; which political figures would Barker interact with, how does she live in countries full of destruction, what will happen to Farouq? I do not want to spoil anything else so I will just highly recommend reading this book. Furthermore, as a movie buff, I was ecstatic to learn that there is a movie based on this book, Whiskey Foxtrot Tango.  After finishing the book, I rented the movie from the library and watched it.  As much as I liked the movie, with Tina Fey starring in it, the book had much more detail and, one of my favorite characters in the book, Farouq, was not really important in the movie.  Anyway, understanding who Kim Barker is helped me write a press release and create my first ever major poster for this event, although it took a few drafts to create.  14955793_1159352987481042_1228266024223535826_n

This Thursday, Kim Barker will finally be here and if everything goes as planned, I will have the opportunity to interview her before the lecture.  Stay tuned for the event’s recap and my experiences with Kim Barker. 

My advice: always be prepared for the unexpected and welcome criticism because it will make you a better person and a more effective intern!

Bienvenue, Bienvenido, and Welcome!


My name is Emily Bickle and I will be serving as a CGS intern this semester. As part of my internship, I will be blogging about our department, as well as my hectic life and many endeavors. I am a junior at Penn State University and I am delighted to be working with the fall semester Center for Global Studies interns. I am majoring in Global & International Studies and French & Francophone Studies as well as pursuing minors in Spanish and Business & Liberal Arts. In order to introduce myself and the expectations I have for the internship, I want to share three important characteristics I use to define myself.

First, I am adventurous and love tackling mountains, literally. Over the summer, I led a group of ten incoming Penn State Freshman in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Throughout the hike, I experienced moments when I questioned my abilities. When we reached the summit of this beast of a mountain, Mount Eisenhower, and the clouds blew out of sight  revealing the endless beauty of New Hampshire, I felt endless possibilities. In the same fashion I tackled that mountain, I plan to tackle this internship. I plan to have moments of doubt and yet continue taking step after step forward to achieve change and growth in myself and our community. I am looking forward to taking on the challenge of organizing and leading an event this semester that will encourage others to learn more about our world and then teach others about what they learned.IMG_1684

The second thing you should know about me is I value compassion. I want to devote my life to helping people. I have spent countless hours over the past five years volunteering at several places in the State College community. I want to continue this same kind of work in hopes of benefiting our shared planet. This internship will help me explore volunteering through education. I believe my work with CGS will be valuable practice for future careers where I will continue trying to educate people on different global issues and helping everyone reach their potential as global citizens. As I grow through this internship, my main goal is to teach others the role they play in contributing positively to society. My career goals, while not completely defined, are highlighted under the realm of non-profit work. I most simply put want to give back to the world and lend a hand where I can.

Lastly, I am curious about the world and I want to discover more. I am hopeful this internship will provide an outlet for me to connect to the larger world through working with guest speakers and other interns. I am looking forward to learning from their vast knowledge while sharing some of my own insight. I love a good challenge. I expect this internship to allow me to explore my curiosity within the world of global studies. The best way I can describe my curiosity is to tell a about when I was in England over the summer. I visited Stonehenge on a tour bus with 40 other students. Upon my arrival, I was intrigued and captivated instantly by the mystery of these huge rocks. My first instinct was to purchase a book and read about the theories people had created to explain these thousand year old rocks. This internship and my life in the future will be driven by the same curiosity I demonstrated on that sunny day under the rocks. I will always be asking questions, researching, engaging in conversation, and digging deeper to satiate my curious tendencies.


Throughout this internship, I promise to be adventurous, compassionate, and curious. I have high expectations for this internship, myself, and my future career. Keep checking into the CGS blog for more information on the internship and my progress throughout the year!


My Letter to IRIS

Dear IRIS,

When I was introduced to you, I was frightened.  You are every new interns’ nightmare and I was no exception.  You are complex, demand details and specifics, and were thick. I pictured the days sitting and staring at you for hours with no pleasure.  However, I covered my emotions with a smile and look of gratitude when I saw you.

The first night I sat with you, I’ll be honest, it was rough, I doubted myself and kept going back to check and make sure you were perfect.  As I’ve mentioned, I am a new intern and I did not want to mess up in the first month.  After the first hour past, things miraculously began to change; I started looking at what you were saying and not that you were just oozing with words.  You were teaching me about ways to transform my major into a career, informing me about varying disciplines that work in global studies, and showing me a behind the scenes look into the Center of Global Studies.  All the professors, independent consultants, staff and students that you told me about inspired me to look at the world in a new light.  You told me about Gai Nyok, a “Lost-Boy” from Sudan who turned his past struggles into a career at the U.S. State Department as a foreign service officer, made me think about the deeper meaning of photography and how it serves as a weapon against cops, and so much more.  After hour two I was impressed with you and how your silence opened my eyes to a new world perspective.  No, you did not give me all the information, but you gave me the foundation to begin research.  That is when I became grateful to you because you were not just any old task.

Unfortunately, you were not perfect, you upset me more than once.  You told me about the number of people who came to each event that the CGS sponsored or co-sponsored last academic year.  I was immediately disappointed because the events sounded incredibly interesting and relevant.  Then, the light bulb switched on, I was one of those students who did not attend the events.  In my defense, I had no idea what the Center of Global Studies was or that it hosted events that correlated with my major until this past summer.  As an intern, this is something I would like to see change this year; promotion and awareness needs to be expanded. We need to get the word out about these events because there could be people like me interested, but unaware. 

IRIS, you are more than an International and Foreign Language Education database system that required 11 hours out of my life.  You were a lesson that taught me patience and helped me see my internship in a new light. 

Yours Truly,

Rana Mohamed

P.S. I hope the next Intern who meets you appreciates you as much as I did. 

The Start of My Journey

I have always strived to be a seeker of adventures, a learner, and a doer.  As a sophomore at Penn State, I’ve already begun to see just how quickly four years in college can go by.  I’m no longer a freshman– my timidness and intimidation by such a large university has left me.  Now, I have started to explore the countless array of options available to me at this amazing school.  When I stumbled upon the Center for Global Studies’ internship application, I was instantly intrigued and began to research the center more and more.  I quickly realized that this internship position would be an amazing opportunity that would have the potential to open doors for me down the road.

As an International Politics and African Studies major,  I have the utmost respect for foreign cultures and global identities.  I believe that through better cultural understanding and awareness, the world can change for the better.  From my studies so far, I have realized how ignorant I really was of the world, and how much still I have yet to learn.  I think one of the main reasons I was drawn to this internship opportunity was for reasons similar to those above; the center, with its goals of the innovative studies of of globalization, outreach programs, and increased awareness for global issues are all things I feel strongly about.  In our increasingly globalized world, programs like those that Center for Global Studies brings to Penn State are truly extraordinary and inevitably helpful to the future awareness and growth of the students and the region.

I interned at a Development Office this past summer, and I felt limited and held back by the amount of busy work I was required to do.  While I know that someone must do these things, and I had no issue at all with doing it in moderation, there were many days where I would do mindless work of shredding paper and scanning documents.  I felt like my skills and mind were not being utilized, which frustrated me.

I have already been thrilled with the work I have done at the center in just two or three short weeks.  Whether it be writing a press release for a renowned visiting scholar, making a poster for advertisement, or managing the center’s social media pages, I have felt challenged and involved in many aspects of the center’s work.  I am truly happy with my decision to pursue this opportunity.

With this just being the beginning of my journey with the center, I have huge hopes for the future.  I hope to take on bigger responsibilities and challenge myself, but most importantly, I hope to learn more about myself and the world that I live in during my time here.

The Start of my CGS Story

        “In every day, there are 1,440 minutes. That means we have 1,440 daily opportunities to make a positive impact,” by Lee Brown.  As a CGS intern, this is exactly what I want to do; I want to leave my mark on the world starting with Penn State. To do so, I will continue the Center’s mission of educating Penn State and the local community about globalization.  However, this was not the main reason I applied for this internship.  As a sophomore, I have no idea what I want to do after graduation and it petrifies me.  I am majoring in International Politics and Global and International Studies and that literally means a million things.  I could choose to work in one of thousands of government jobs, or one of millions of NGO’S, non-profits, and who knows what else global studies can do for me.  This is why I applied for the CGS internship; I wanted to help narrow down my post graduation plans.  Then, things changed.  As I was preparing for my interview, I read all the intern blogs and became really excited about the opportunity to put all my previous experience into one practical work environment. Not only that, but I will be interviewing professionals in fields I am interested in, blog (which I secretly love to do), work in a collaborative setting with two other interns, the Associate Director Sarah Lyall-Combs, and Mary Price along with other things.   

This is my first internship and I have a lot of expectations based on the stories I read from previous interns and what I already know about internships. 

My expectations are:

    • Gain valuable work experience to help boost my resume for future internships or careers
    • Learn more about this field and different paths I can take
    • Network with professionals in fields related to my major
    • Learn how to analytically think and solve problems in this field
    • Gain exposure to challenges of working in global studies
    • And have FUN!!!

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In the short week that I have been working for the Center, I wrote my first press release for the brown bag series.  When Sarah asked me to write it, I was naturally nervous, but I said yes because this is why I am here.  I want to learn in anyway that I can whether that be how to conduct a formal interview or write a press release.

I am confident that as the weeks go by I will be challenged in ways that will make me grow as a professional and a person. 

My CGS Story

This past year I had the opportunity to be part of the Center for Global Studies team. During this year I had the privilege to attend events related to sustainability, ethical leadership and global studies. I even attended events on topics I didn’t even know I was going to find interesting, like most of the CGS Brownbag Series, where I was able to listen to research from graduate students and renowned scholars.

The CGS did not only give me the opportunity to be part of a great team that works to support global research in the university, and to be on the audience for all the interesting events that they sponsor, but it also gave me the opportunity to make my own events.

During my first semester I was able to organize a talk for International Education Week about Venezuela’s current political situation. This gave me the opportunity to educate Penn State students on what is currently going on in my country, which despite being a relevant topic does not receive enough coverage from the American media.

This semester I had the opportunity to present as a Brownbag speaker on my research. My research was focused on expatriates and what can U.S. multinational companies do to get the most of the people they send to perform such international assignments. Not only was I able to share my research, which is something I am very passionate about, but also I was also able to practice my public speaking and even received feedback from the audience regarding some extra topics I could cover on my final research paper.

An opportunity that also took me to places I wouldn’t have gone otherwise was World Stories Alive. I was in charge or organizing the whole series, find the speakers, do the publicity and manage the interns so that they could help me put the whole series together. In this process I met people from all over the world (Kazakhstan, Japan, China, Rumania, etc.) Not only did I meet these people but also I was also able to listen their languages, learn typical music and poems from those countries.

Finally I learned people management skills. This was the first opportunity I have ever had when I am not the youngest in the workplace, or the intern. This time I had interns to manage. At the beginning it was hard, because I wanted to be their friend but at the same time you have to draw the line and make sure you are giving the precise tasks and remind them if they are not meeting deadlines. I was lucky to have great and collaborative interns both semesters, but it was still challenging to learn how to be a supervisor.

Overall I am infinitely grateful for this opportunity, I met wonderful people, learned about infinite topics related to sustainability and ethical leadership; and culturally and professionally, this experience definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone and made me grow and enhanced my professional skills, preparing me to enter the workforce.

We Learn From Our Mistakes

I wanted to end my Graduate Assistantship with zero records of big mistakes, unfortunately this was not the case…

Part of my tasks as a Graduate Assistant is to video tape all of our events and post them on our YouTube channel. It is recommended to download the videos from the camera to your computer and post them on YouTube as fast as possible. However, being on the final weeks of the semester and of my time here at Penn State as a graduate student I had too many things on my plate and I did export the videos to my computer but I didn’t edit the videos right to post them on YouTube.

Long story short, I lost all the files from my computer (including the videos) and I had already deleted them from the video camera. After visiting all the data recovery stores of downtown State College, I was informed there was no guarantee I was going to recover the videos.

I was very nervous and stressed to tell my supervisor the bad news. I am usually a perfectionist and strongly dislike when I mess up, however there was nothing else I could do this time to fix the problem but to come up front and be honest about what happened.

Fortunately, my supervisor was kind and very understanding. She was not pleased to hear the news, but told me to take it as a learning lesson.

Two weeks later, we went for lunch with the whole CGS team including Sophia McClennen, the Director of the Center. I was still pretty embarrassed for my past mistake, but it was very comforting to listen from all the mistakes each of the team members did during their careers at the CGS.

Even though I did not end my term as a Graduate Assistant with a clean mistake record as I wanted, I did end it with a life lesson. Sometimes you mess up, and it is not ideal, and when these things happen the most important thing is to be candid about it and learn from your mistakes.