Category Archives: Fall 2014

The Beginning of the End

Dear Readers,

I have come to report only good news on all fronts! As you might know, I have recently battled a dragon. Not a real one, naturally, but rather the dragon of my internship: the event that I had to plan. Luckily, I can honestly say that all went well!

The event was entitled “Climate Change in Developing Countries: Impacts and Solutions.” A short film about water shortages in the horn of Africa opened the event, with a panel discussion following. Three panelists (Peter Buckland from the Sustainability Institute, Bryan Cwik from the Rock Ethics Institute, and Michael Jacobson from the Forestry Resources Department) led the discussion, and all brought their own research interests and expertise to the table. All-in-all, the diversified interests of the panelists allowed for a look into many aspects of the impacts of climate change in developing countries.

The dragon wasn’t so scary, after all.

The unexpected. The dragon. The journey. This, my dear readers, is the beginning of the end.
I began this internship where all internships begin—the beginning, where I found myself caught in the ups and downs of newsletters, blogs, and after-school clubs with children. What followed was the “dragon” event, which I happily reported above as a success. And now, dear readers, I find myself facing the last three weeks of my internship. Less than a month. The time has flown, that is for sure. What is not so sure, however, are my feelings about this end. Because, in reality, this end is not really “the end.” Instead, it is the beginning of a new chapter, the chance to advance the skills and to pursue my international interests, wherever they may take me. I do not know where I will be next year, but I know that at the Center for Global Studies I have gained valuable skills and knowledge that will always be with me.

Well, dear readers, it’s been a pleasure.

Until next time,

Megan Romania

An IEW Event Reflection



(L to R) Dr. Audrey Maretzki, Chanda Burrage, Khanjan Mehta, and me!

International Education Week has come and gone, and with it, the interns’ events at CGS. Each intern, myself included, was given the challenge of planning and hosting our own global events during IEW, and, in my completely unbiased opinion, all of the interns’ events were phenomenal.

Like I began to mention in my last CGS Blog, my event was a film screening featuring the short documentary, “A Thousand Suns,” provided by the Global Oneness Project, and a panel discussion comprised of professors and an ABD PhD candidate from Penn State. These individuals included Dr. Aubrey Maretzki, Professor Khanjan Mehta, and Mrs. Chanda Burrage.

The film proved to very interesting (I recommend you take a look—> Here) but the real success of my event, in my opinion, was the conversation that followed. The interests of the panel members varied enough to provide for a broad, yet deep conversation about topics like international development, global sustainability, preserving culture, and the importance of the environment in traditional cultures, particularly in African regions. Since it was my first experience with a panel discussion of any kind, I had almost all of the questions scripted, and directed toward individuals, rather than the panel at large. I think that if I were to do an event like this again, I would probably write more questions directed at the whole group in order to get varying opinions on the same questions to increase perspectives. Overall, though, I think that the combination of the film and the conversation was very thought provoking and went very well.

One of the greatest challenges that I had planning my event only became evident right before the event itself started. I assumed that 2:00 p.m. on a Wednesday would be an open enough time for students in general that I would at least half-fill a room. Apparently, I was wrong, as my attendance fell short of my expectation. I chose to publicize my event via social media and email rather than in print, which, in hindsight, may have been an overconfident move. However, I think the small attendance actually contributed to a more intimate discussion with the panel, and I am still very pleased with how the event went.

One of the biggest things that I got from the event was the networking. First and foremost, I realized how easy it is to contact people at Penn State, regardless of their position, and how willing they are to help with student endeavors. I am very grateful to each of my panelists for being so willing to help with my event. More specifically, I also made a connection that may benefit me down the line in my academic career. Dr. Maretzki is a director of the Interinstitutional Consortium for Indigenous Knowledge at Penn State, and since cultural preservation in the face of development is something that I am very interested in, she is someone who I could potentially work or collaborate with in the future, which is very exciting.

Overall, I am very happy with how my event went. I am also very happy it’s over, as it was A LOT of work. It was a great experience figuring out how to plan, organize, and host an event totally from scratch, and I’m sure that next time I have to host something of this nature it will be much less intimidating. Finally, shout-out to Ben and Megan for their great events as well! Go interns!

Upcoming Event for International Week

As we all know we have International Education Week coming up here at Penn State. The event will be taking place November 12th through the 19th with plenty of movies, lectures, and events going on that week.  Us interns here at CGS have been given the opportunity to add to this week with our own events. I felt that this would be a good time to have people learn about extremism and Islam

For my lecture I hope to recruit a professor I work for to give a presentation on ISIS and how it threatens the stability of the Middle East and how it threatens everyone over the globe. I also want it to be made clear, just because this radical group has Islamic ideologies doesn’t mean that all Muslims support this. I feel that too many people misconceive the two ideas and mold them together since lately they have been the latest group to have extremist goals.  People have always had the idea that if a few of a certain group radicalize then the whole religion is and that isn’t the case. There have been many examples of this in the past with other religions too, take Christianity. Christianity led many crusades into the holy lands and murdered and killed thousands of people; that was a form of radicalization. You could even make the case that the Spanish Inquisition was another form or radicalization; and no one ever suspects the Spanish Inquisition (

My goal is to have a presentation on ISIS and perhaps even a question and answer segment afterwards. I feel that this event will draw a lot of people because of how relevant it is in today’s news. Every day I turn on CNN or Fox or I check BBC on the internet and its always ISIS this and ISIS that; if ISIS hasn’t been on your mind even just a little bit lately you must live under a rock. Originally I figured I would have my event towards the end of International Education Week, that way my speaker would have the max amount of time to prepare. The more I think about it however, the more I realize that since this topic will probably be so big that if we do it at the beginning of the week it’ll help draw attention to the rest of the events. Overall keep your eye’s peeled for this lecture coming up, it’s going to be great.

The Dragon


J. R. R. Tolkien once wrote, “It does not do to leave a dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.” A month has come and gone for this internship, bringing both challenges and rewarding experiences. But, while I’ve been on the roller coaster of extension day clubs, writing newsletters, and delving into various other tasks, I’ve ignored (whether subconsciously or even partially so) the ‘dragon,’ if you will. Not a real dragon, naturally, but the dragon of my internship: planning my own event for International Education Week in November.

…Perhaps dealing with a real dragon would be less intimidating.

As a Global Ambassador, I’m used to giving frequent presentations. However, those have been pre-written and planned for me. This time, it’s my turn. I can’t say whether or not planning has ever been a strong suit of mine, because, truth be told, I’ve never had the opportunity to plan anything for such a renowned event. But, I can honestly say that delving into this project is both nerve-wracking and exciting.

The beginning stage has commenced. The planning has now begun. By writing this blog, words have been formed, the promise of the creation of an event made, and the reality of the ‘dragon’ has become a part of my (perhaps reluctant) consciousness. The more I think, the more I realize that I have a plethora of opportunities for events that I could plan. My broad interests in international travel, development, sustainability, culture, and integration have opened up many doors for me, as far as events go. It’s narrowing them down, now, that’ll be the hard part.

I don’t want to make any promises to you before I sit down and think more thoroughly about this event. In doing so, I’d be speaking before thinking, which one should never do (if you don’t recognize the allusion, I suggest reading Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland). In any case, I can assure you that, whatever ‘dragon’ event comes of this planning, it will be mine and mine alone, encompassing my passions that I expressed to you earlier. Perhaps not all of them, but enough to catch a glimpse of me as an individual, and to (hopefully) begin to comprehend, and even appreciate, the dedication and persistence that I have to continue to broaden my international experiences and to contribute to the greater cause of a global connectedness and understanding between cultures.

An Event in the Making!


One of the stipulations of being a CGS intern is that at some point in the semester, you must plan and host a globally relevant event of some sort. The magnitude and open-endedness of this task make it both hugely daunting, and fairly exciting at the same time. This event is a chance to showcase what each intern is specifically interested in and present whatever that may be in the framework of a global context. In my case, my area of interest relates to sustainability, and my event will reflect that in some way.

Obviously, the hardest thing about planning any event is actually brainstorming what the event will even be. At this point, I’m fairly sure that my event is going to be a film screening followed by either a round table discussion or panel discussion about the film and its main themes. I prefer film screenings to lectures because they are always different based on the content of the film, and can be conducive to just as much learning as a lecture, but with more visual stimulation to keep people engaged. The panel or round table discussion following the screening will serve as a good way to discuss the topics presented in the film, and hear what others have to say as well. If the panel discussion does happen instead of the round table discussion, there will be expert opinion presented by Penn State professors and/or faculty.

One of the challenges of hosting a film screening is obtaining the rights to a film. With this in mind, I set out to find a film that would fit the bill of my event, and would have fairly accessible rights. A few days into my search, I came across the website, Global Oneness Project, which seemed to answer all of my prayers. Global Oneness Project is an online conglomeration of films and resources that are readily accessible for any class, event, or gathering of 10 or more people. The G.O.P explains their reasoning behind the availability of their films by saying, “Through film screenings, we hope to stimulate dialogue, support community engagement, and inspire action.” Most of the films explore fields like health, ecology, social justice, tolerance, etc. all around the world. This website seems like an absolutely perfect one to get my film from for my event.

As of now, the film that I will be choosing is “A Thousand Suns,” a 30-minute documentary that tells the story of the Gamo Highlands in the African Rift Valley. The film explores the ideologies of the people in this region, and examines their relationship with the earth, and how it has affected the land around them. Ideally, any discussion that will happen after the screening will focus on how globalization is affecting global ideology and man’s relationship to nature, as well as the impacts that globalization is having on the lives of traditional people. With any luck, I plan on having guest professors from the African studies department and possibly the international agriculture department join and direct the conversation.

Clearly, this event is still in the works. However, I am very, very excited about it already, and plan on making it one worthwhile. With that in mind, keep an ear out about my event! It will most likely be taking place in late November/early December, and all are welcome! It is sure to be an interesting and thought-provoking evening.


What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting


Fueled by my interest in international education, sustainability, and human rights, I decided to apply for the Center for Global Studies internship. I knew that I had a strong background in international studies, with my two study-abroad trips (first to Perth, Australia and second to Dublin, Ireland) and my roles as a Peer Advisor, a Conversation Partner, and the Vice President of the Penn State Global Ambassadors. I knew that this internship would be beneficial for both experience and networking.

Coming into the internship, I must admit that I wasn’t too sure what to expect. I had read on the website about some of the possible activities that interns do, but I personally did not have specific expectations. I only knew that I wanted to gain knowledge that could help me on my path to going global with my studies.

Thus, the internship commenced. I was given a role as a club teacher at the Young Scholars of Central Pennsylvania K-8 charter school. I have to admit, I was really excited about this role. I plan to go abroad to teach English in a school in France after graduation, so I knew this would be a good experience. After some configuration, I was given three clubs to run: Book Club, Arts and Crafts, and Games and Coloring.

Initially, I hadn’t planned on running a club like any of the ones above. But, I found a way to incorporate my original ideas (Mythology and Folklore and French) into the new clubs. When I first arrived at the school, I had my days all planned out—what we would read, what activities we would do, and even how responsive I thought the children would be.

Boy, I was in for a surprise.

I don’t have much experience working with children. In fact, I tend to lean towards adults when I have to work with any specific age group. I’ve babysat a few times for my mom’s friends, but for the most part I was going into this cold turkey. I probably should’ve done some reading-up on how to interact with children ages “just-learning-to-write-and-read” to “just-because-I-can-do-this-craft-doesn’t-mean-I’m-going-to”, and everything in between.

Week one has officially passed for these clubs, so I now know what I need to do to modify my plans and make these clubs more interesting for all parties involved. I must say, I’ve gained much more respect for elementary school teachers. It’s not that I didn’t have respect previously; simply, I didn’t think that children could require so much enthusiasm and patience. I’m not talking 95% enthusiasm and patience for 97% of the time, I mean 110% for 100% of the time. I know that I’ll have to work on these traits, but I’m up for the challenge!

Here we gooooooo!

By BEN MECK on September 17, 2014

In the words of my high school cross country coach, “here we go!” I’m excited to be a part of this years team of interns for CGS, being how this is the first internship I’ve ever had. My expectations for this experience are vague to say the least.

Being an Security and Risk major, this job seems like an odd fit. When I was looking for an internship, my adviser pointed this out to me and said that I qualified. I read about it and it seemed interesting so I applied, and now I’m talking to you all. If you think about it though its really not that odd of a place for someone such as myself. This is the Center for Global Studies after all and my major has to do with security and part of being secure is knowing what is going on around you.

As you all can read, my colleagues that I’ll be working with this year are involved with the after school program. I had thought about taking part in such a program but I had found that I was too busy but you may see me from time to time helping said colleagues of mine keep the children in line!

Currently I find this internship not to be that difficult, just perhaps a bit taxing when it comes to time. It is nothing that can’t be handled just that with everything I have to do, it just adds fuel to the fire. Although it may seem like a large task during some bits, Mrs. Lyall-Combs has always emphasized that she is around to help if need be. I find that to be very kind of her. I have heard from others with internships that sometimes they are just thrown into their internship and never given any guidance. I have been very appreciative of that lately.

In the future I see this job developing into something more meaningful than in its current state. I foresee some of the tasks I have been given really challenging me be on top of my game and that excites me. There’s nothing like a good puzzle or challenge to wake you up from getting caught in the common place fixtures of ones own life! As I come across these challenges I’ll make sure to keep you all informed.

One Intern’s Hopes and Expectations


I am so excited to be an intern at the Center for Global Studies this fall. This being my first internship, I don’t have anything to compare it to, and I’m not really sure what to expect. However, if the rest of the semester continues in the same way that the past few weeks have gone, it’ll be a great experience.

What initially attracted me to this internship was the opportunity to work in a teaching capacity with K-8 students at the Young Scholars of Central PA charter school. This fall, I will be running two after school clubs for first and second graders: a Nature Club and an International Food and Culture Club. In both of these clubs, I plan on applying my own knowledge, expertise, and international experiences to build lesson plans that hopefully help the kids begin to develop a global perspective.

My past experience working with kids this age is minimal, so I think this will be a great learning and growing experience for me. I think the greatest challenge that I will face over the coming weeks will be disciplining the kids. First and second graders can be wild, and while part of me will undoubtedly want to let them run loose, I will have to channel my inner elementary school teacher/disciplinarian and maintain control over the classroom in order to make it a productive learning environment.

In addition to my work at YSCP, this internship will hopefully give me a chance to cultivate professional skills that I haven’t really been exposed to up until now. The events and opportunities for networking in particular will be some of my first chances to practice interacting with faculty and professionals, both in my field of interest and outside.  Additionally, I expect to get a lot of practice doing office work, producing documents and posters, and meeting deadlines that are assigned to me.

Although I do not anticipate going into a career in international affairs specifically, I am interested in international, sustainable development. In order to be an effective force for positive change in this field, I need to have a very broad, global perspective and vast understanding of international issues. While I consider myself to be somewhat well informed in terms of global affairs and perspectives, there is obviously always room for great improvement. I plan on taking advantage of the lectures and events that CGS holds as a way to improve my own understanding of the world, and maybe even broaden my own global perspective.

Overall, I am ecstatic to be working at the Center for Global studies as an intern. If all goes as planned, this will be the first internship that primes me for work in other internships or jobs directly related to my area of study.  With any luck, by the end of this experience I will be able ready and able to step into the professional world without an ounce of hesitation.

The Importance of Global Studies


After attending various events by the Center for Global Studies I have learned more about the importance of Global Studies. It is not because we simply live within such a globalized economy but because as American citizens we live within a global culture. Whether one lives in the urban areas of Philadelphia, New York or DC or rural Pennsylvania he/she will be somewhat affected by global culture. We no longer live in isolated areas, but are all part of some bigger culture, constituted of many. Global studies helps us to understand these cultures and their different ways of life.

For instance, the film flying fish was more than a film, it was reality caught on tape. The incidences occurring in the film were those specific to Sri Lankans and the horrors they faced daily during the civil war. As the film came to a climax I still questioned why it was banned in the first place. It contained sexual contact yes, but don’t all films? Murder, yes? But what good movie doesn’t have a death scene or seven? Growing up in America this is mundane to our media but it is not that way everywhere. And to have someone banned from the country for creating such a film, in America would mean we’d have no good film directors left. But it’s the culture, and the government and the differences in many facets of life that makes me make no quick judgement about the film or its quality.

The French headscarf law really had me thinking too. Oppression is everywhere and against many different groups of people. Some may think the not wearing of the Hijab frees Muslim women, but the restriction against such religious garb only marginalizes them even more. There are many different perspectives to look at this law but my overriding opinion is that it is an oppressing force of Europeans against immigrants into their country. A group’s religion is as sacred as it gets and when one impedes on that it becomes an infringement on freedom of expression.It’s important to note that this law does not affect all Muslims, but Muslim girls, an already marginalized group. The lawmakers in France could probably use a global studies course or two.

In America, although met with quite some opposition for fear of an eroding “american culture” global studies is being taught in primary schooling, to begin children young to understand and learn about all the cultures surrounding them. Global studies is important because one needs to understand the cultural background behind religion war, terrorism and etc before he/she can make a knowledgeable judgment. Ignorance does nothing but feed the soul with resistance, to other cultures and ideas.

Careers in Geopolitical Intelligence

By MATTHEW ROBERT BLOSS on December 9, 2013

My primary project this semester was helping to coordinate and plan the “Careers in Geopolitical Intelligence” talk that was held here at Penn State on November 18th. The idea to hold the panel initially came from Sarah, but once she learned of my personal interests and passions she quickly approached me to help organize the event on CGS’s behalf. Upon hearing of Sarah’s plan, I immediately jumped at her offer of having me coordinate it. Since my youth I have had a passion for the dynamic international events and relationships that have shaped the course of human history and much of my recent academic experience has been dedicated to finding a career that will allow me observe, or better yet partake, in those events. Now I was fortunate to have found avenues to pursue my goal without much counsel from others, but the process was difficult and if I could go back four years, there is certainly more than one thing I would have done differently. So being given this opportunity to help my peers was not only exciting, but also personal, and I was determined to try and make this conference contain all the information that I wished I would have had when I was an underclassmen or a junior.

My first objective in the planning phase was to determine the scope of the project. I knew roughly that I wanted to impart information to my peers about finding a purpose to go along with their passion for geopolitics, but I needed to figure out what we were, and were not capable of. With the guidelines set out before me I reasoned that our best bet was to bring in individuals who currently worked, or had worked, in intelligence and/or diplomacy. If people could hear the literal process that others went through to get to where they are, they might gain some of the valued perspective that I was trying to impart. After some conferencing with Sarah we came up with a rough outline and format, and even started bouncing around some ideas of who we could tap to actually present at the event.

This was perhaps the most important part of the event planning process. The entire utility of the event depended on finding the right people who had relevant and applicable experience in the right career fields. The first individual was one of Sarah’s and CGS’s preexisting contacts, a man by the name of John Hodgson. John currently works in Penn State’s Applied Research Laboratory and serves as the Principal Investigator for the Strategic and Global Security Program, an Intelligence Community Center for Academic Excellence. Not only was John an individual with a wealth of personal experience in the field, but his contacts throughout the university allowed him to take a leading role with CGS in planning the event.

The Second individual we recruited was my idea. Anyone in the SRA or National Security majors is likely aware of Prof. Don Shemanski. Shemanski, who has served more than two decades with the US government as a Foreign Service Officer, and is well known among certain student circles for his entertaining and challenging class projects that pit students against a hypothetical terrorist plot and require them to use the knowledge that gain in class to (hopefully) unravel and thwart the plot. From what I knew of Prof. Shemanski, I figures he would be perfect for this event, having more than enough relevant experience while also having a great deal of positive “name recognition” among potential attendees.

The final source we brought in was Professor Scott Gartner, who has had years of experience studying international affairs as well as working hands-on with organizations like the FBI. Professor Gartner, who has worked with CGS before, was a wealth of information not just on the specifics of the industry but also on the long and winding paths people often take to get where they want (or eventually decide they want) to go.

With our three speakers recruited and eager to participate, all the remained left to do was sort out the logistics of the event. While it was easy to get caught up in the “meat” of the event (bringing in and coordinating the speakers) helping to organize the deli meat spread for the reception after the event proofed enlightening in its own way. One often does not appreciate all the small bits of planning and detail that must be attended to in order to make a single large event take place. I was fortunate to be at the head of the planning experience, helping to acquire tables, invite students, and obtain a headcount for the reception. This experience was likely some of the most beneficial as “simple” logistical tasks like these can often make the difference between a successful event and a fiasco.

After weeks of planning and coordination and no small amount of stress, November 18th finally rolled around and the event itself took place. As I stood there in the Katz building smiling pleasantly as around 50 students took their seats, I realized that we had not instructed anyone to actually “introduce” the event. After a brief and mild cardiac episode, I jaunted over to find Sarah and, without thinking about to too heavily, asked her: “so do you just want me to introduce the thing?” She smiled and said “OK”, leaving me with the task of coming up with a one-two minute intro in about ten seconds. Luckily providence and this fine academic institution have gifted me with a knack for public speaking that enabled me to briefly take the podium and tactfully start the whole event off. I’m not sure of about 90% of what I ended up saying, but Sarah told me I did very well, so I’m inclined to take her word for it.

The rest of the event went better than I could have ever expected. All the stories and information given by our speakers was exactly the sort of thing a younger version of me wished he could have heard two or three years ago. The food ended up being quite good and many students stuck around well after the reception talking to the speakers, various interns, and each other. Overall I was incredibly privileged to be a part of CGS and help plan this event. The experience I gained in planning and coordination will do doubt be vital to me in my professional career. I can safely say my time at CGS has been some of the most educational out of my entire Penn State experience, helping me so that if I ever come back to PSU, it will not be to host another talk, but to speak at it.