Category Archives: Spring 2016

As I begin my work this semester with The Center for Global Studies, I am very excited about all the opportunities this internship has for me. As an International Politics major, I love engaging in discussions about global issues and learning more about other cultures and governments. For me, this internship is the first chance I’ve had so far during my college career to apply what I’ve learned in an academic setting that isn’t a classroom. I’m looking forward to meeting and working with other people who share my interests and love for global studies. I hope that through the World Stories Alive program, I will learn more about foreign languages alongside the children for whom the program is for. Even as a student who is over ten years older than the children in attendance, there is so much to be taken from the stories and the languages. I hope to be in a career someday where I can meet and interact with people from all around the world so even minimal exposure to other languages and cultures now is so valuable. I am also looking forward to the multiple lecture series and the great speakers who are coming to Penn State this spring. Being able to learn about important global issues that concern health, politics, education and many other things from scholars who have studied the topics extensively is such a rare and special opportunity that I am fortunate to have.  By writing about these lectures and doing further research about these issues I can gain deeper knowledge while improving my writing skills. I am grateful for the Center for Global Studies and am looking forward to all the experiences I will gain from my time as an intern there this semester.

Renee Arnold



Baby Steps

‘I’ve never been this busy before’. It’s a thought that has occurred to me occasionally since this semester has begun. Each time it comes to me, I take a moment to savor the feeling, to let it marinate. It feels…different. I have an honors thesis (not to mention related requirements) to grapple with, a number of high level classes to take, and now an excellent internship opportunity. As with any change in life, there is a giddying amount of uncertainty involved- will I be able to handle everything adequately?

When I applied to the CGS I had a very specific mental image of what I would be doing. I envisioned a role not unlike a research assistantship position, where most of my engagements would involve technical-level writing around some of the center’s thematic focuses. It was clarified during the job interview that I would not be doing much of that-my first two activities have been hanging up posters around town, and cutting beaks for a children’s arts and crafts project.

I wouldn’t have it any other way, really. The internship represents an opportunity to find out more about myself. I have thrived in the African (Nigerian) workplace; at my previous internship (where I worked for 2 consecutive summers and a gap year) it was not unusual for me to represent the organization at local and international conferences. Working with CGS is a considerable step outside of my comfort zone, and conventional wisdom indicates that such places are where the magic happens in life.

At this point, a bit of context to make the moment more magical is in order. Time and time again while working and at school, I have been struck by the fact that African human capital has not received nearly enough of the investment it needs to create a lasting, positive change. I had mulled this thought over and over; eventually the notion of giving up the career I thought I wanted (the ‘safe’ one) for one focused on equipping future generations became less a hope and more a highlight in my life plan. In the same breath, a fortuitous string of events created an obligation for me to fill in a spot at my church’s Sunday school (let’s just say not many young adults do that). Fast forward to me cutting out paper beaks at a place where I thought I’d be looking up academic journals, and it begins to look like my plans are being validated somehow.

So when thoughts about being busy come, I know they are thoughts of amazement rather than complaint. These might well be the baby steps (forgive the pun) to a legacy that I can be proud of.

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.

My Final Post

As my internship slowly comes to an end, I can honestly say I’m sad to have to go. I have gained so many enriching experiences through lectures, movies, presentations, and good ol’ fashioned hard work. I will miss eating my salami and cheese sandwich during the Brown Bag Series every Wednesday, and (believe it or not) I will miss waking up early on Saturday mornings to attend World Stories Alive. Throughout the course of one short year I have become a well-rounded “young professional” complete with a whole new set of valuable skills (feel free to read about said skills in my CGS Story or previous blogs). Most of all, I will miss the staff.

Our advisor, Sarah Lyall-Combs, is the person who taught me the majority of these skills. She has sat patiently with every intern as we went through multiple drafts of newsletters, and tried desperately (and failed) many times to coordinate all of our schedules, but she also taught us how to do all of these things on our own. For the first time in my college career, I don’t feel afraid of the “real world” that all seniors talk about and dread because I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to learn the necessary skills to succeed.

I want to thank the Center for Global Studies for giving me the confidence I need to start the next journey of my career. I especially would like to thank Mary Price, who has given genuine support to all of us as we cope with the daily struggle of being a college student. To Lauren, Kayla, and Loredana, I wish you all the best of luck as you continue to work towards your dream careers. I’m looking forward to seeing how my fellow strong, independent female interns move on to make a difference. Whatever my own future has to hold for me, I can only hope that it treats me as well as the Center for Global Studies has treated me this past year.

My favorite picture from my year with CGS

My favorite picture from my year with CGS

What can U.S. Companies Do to Get the Most Out of their Expatriates in Hardship Locations (My Very Own Brownbag!)

This past month I had the opportunity to share with the CGS’s staff and some of my peers about my graduate research paper.

Having moved from my hometown at a young age, and having to adapt fast to a different culture and a new environment, combined with my passion for human resources management, made me very interested in the expatriate management topic. For this reason, when I had to decide on what I was going to write my research paper for my M.S. in Human Resources and Employment Relationships, I decided to do it on expatriates.

To give it an even more specific focus I decided to do research on what can American enterprises do to better manage their expatriates in hardship locations. In today’s globalized economy many American companies are looking to penetrate new markets, and even though this is a great business opportunity, most of the times these new markets are located in countries that are considered hazardous.

A country can be categorized as a hardship location when it provides poor quality of life, it has a very different culture from the home country of the expatriate, or it is very far away from the home country of the expatriate.

I started my presentation defining what an expatriate is and why is my research relevant to U.S. companies. Even though expatriates are the best approach to manage subsidiaries in different countries, it is also very expensive (expatriate compensation packages can cost up to $1million per year to a company!!!)

Therefore, if a company wants to get a large return on investment, they need to make sure they manage this process with caution.

On my research I found that the biggest challenges hardship locations have are: cultural adjustment, struggle for the expatriate’s spouse and family to adjust, and poor quality of life due to crime, violence, or diseases. Finally, another challenge companies have with expatriate assignments is that up to 20% of American companies suffer from expatriate failure because of such challenges, and many times they lose the expatriate to a competitor after the assignment because of dissatisfaction during/after the assignment.

To cope with such struggles, during my presentation I suggested several recommendations:

  1. Offer pre-departure and post-departure cultural training for the employee to build up expectations of the new country and for the employee to re-adjust once the assignment is over. This training should be administered to the expatriate and his/her family.
  2. Offer career-planning services for the accompanying spouse. With the increase of dual-income households, spousal career and the ability for a partner to be able to work during the assignment has become increasingly more relevant.
  3. Repatriation: this process should start months before the expatriate is back to the home country. Once the expatriate is back, he/she should have a significant role within the company where newly acquired skills can be used.

This was a great opportunity not only to share my findings, but also to practice my presentation skills. I was glad that all the people who attended my brownbag were interested on the topic and that we could have a short discussion at the end.

Organized Chaos

Well, the semester began and once it started it continued to barrel like a runaway snowball. Each week the Center for Global Studies has taken on a new task. Interns, graduate assistants, and advisors alike have all kept themselves busy with World Stories Alive, the Brown Bag Series, and even beginning some research on new opportunities for CGS (to be revealed next semester!) After officially making it halfway through my final semester here at Penn State (and almost to Senior year Spring break), I’ve taken away some very valuable lessons.

Lesson 1: Communication, communication, and more communication. This has been our ultimate downfall this semester. Between coordinating our busy schedules and a multitude of various communication channels including Facebook, Groupme, e-mail, and text, our organizational skills have been lacking luster to say the least. That being said, we’re learning from the mistakes. Excel will your best friend if you let it, and sometimes you just need to call an emergency all hands on deck meeting. Let’s face it, the easiest way to get things done is by handling it in person.

Lesson 2: GO TO THE EVENTS. I cannot stress this enough. You can’t judge a book by its cover and you can’t judge an event by its title. Last month, in a pinch to write an article for our monthly newsletter, I attended a talk on religious freedom and its impact on a global and local scale. While this isn’t usually a topic that would have me setting my alarm at 9am to go to, I found myself sincerely engaged and interested in the implications of Dr. Finke’s research. I left the lecture wondering why more people haven’t taken an interest in these topics. Which leads me to my last lesson.

Lesson 3: Publicize. The Center for Global Studies offers so many enriching events, conferences, and opportunities to attend, but we can only educate the people who show up. We’re working on finding more creative ways to get the word out to the public (a process that has been greatly facilitated by the presence of our new marketing intern, Lauren). Whether it’s by flyers, social media, or mass e-mails, publicizing our events will always be one of the most important factors in successfully promoting global education.

With two more months to go I hope to finish out the internship on a strong note. I hope these lessons learned through CGS continue to make me a more well-rounded and educated student. I’ve come to learn so much about global studies, and plan to gain as much experience as I can in my remaining weeks here.

New Semester, New Goals

Spring semester has arrived and with it has emerged a whirlwind of new events and projects! As the year continues to progress, I find that my internship with the Center for Global Studies has shifted towards new goals and different expectations. Where before I was focused on events around campus that aimed at educating students in a diverse array of international topics, now I’ve moved towards learning how to educate the community.

Our outreach spreads to many public corners outside of the college, including k-12 schools and the local library. Probably the biggest impact we make through CGS is our sponsored World Stories Alive program. Each Saturday we volunteer to educate children of the community on different languages and cultures. To me this is one of the most important events we hold.

Pennsylvania does not have the type of global opportunities that states like California are so commonly known for. It’s important to inform children at an early age that our world extends beyond the reaches of what we can see. Through World Stories Alive we can promote an understanding of diversity while teaching the children valuable skills and the basics of new languages.

I hope that this program continues on and can be successful with the help of the determined people from the Center for Global Studies. Throughout the rest of the semester I plan to further develop my skills as a promoter of international studies. There are many events that are waiting to be attended, especially my particular favorite, the Brown Bag Series! I love being able to see the work that graduate students dedicate their studies to, and it’s encouraging to see the process of research.

I encourage every one out there to get involved in one way or another. Our events are always open to the community and you never know what you can learn. I look forward to what the semester has to offer for myself and for CGS. To be continued PSU…

Learning the Ropes

Although I’ve only been working here for two weeks, I feel as though I’ve already gained a lot of career experience. When I said I loved adapting and challenging myself to new situations on my resume, it is clear to me how useful those qualities I have are impacting this internship.

I have had to already do an array of different things this semester, from press releases to organizing a newsletter. Because I am new to the field of public relations, this has all been very challenging for me. However, despite the challenges, I can honestly say that I have really enjoyed the work I have been doing, especially seeing the final products we create.

The hardest challenge I had to date was the Call for Papers flyer. It was challenging because there was a lot of necessary information that needed to go onto the flyer and I had a hard time weighing “visual appeal” and “not being too busy.”

I wanted the flyer to be aesthetically pleasing so I spent a long time finding an image I thought was interesting and professional. When I had thought I found the perfect image, I immediately went into action making it fit into the flyer. However, trial after trial, the image could not seem to work with the amount of content the flyer needed. The image was large and had too many components to fit with the style of the flyer. It became a flyer that was too overwhelming for someone to read.

Eventually, Sarah decided to take a different approach and try an image that was less distracting. The image conveyed the message of interconnectedness like mine did however, it did not take away from the content. In addition to the new image, the grey and black textboxes were taken out. These textboxes made the flyer look busier than it already was. By taking them out, even with the new image, the flyer looked cleaner and more professional.

The second and third additions to the flyer included changes to the font and adding a resource to the image. The reason for adding the resource is obvious: so the image wasn’t illegally copy written. However, the reason for the text change is a little less obvious. It was done was so that the flyer could have more visual appeal and allow the readers eye to be more inclined to look at different words on the poster.

The flyers purpose was to make people read it. With a flyer that had an image that was too distracting, too many dark colored boxes, and hard to read text, no one would read it. The current flyer looks clean, professional, and visually appealing. There is nothing distracting the text so the viewer is more likely to read it. In the future, I think I will not get so attached to an idea and not be afraid to try something new. When Sarah said the flyer was too distracting from the content, I should’ve immediately rethought the idea of the image and the flyer as a whole instead of trying to fix something that was obviously not going to get less “busy.” On future projects, I will set my own ideas aside and take advice better to create more professional content.

Even though the flyer was challenging, I enjoyed the process of working out the problems and trying to improve it. Other things in the internship have however gone more smoothly. The newsletter I organized was executed very well so I was happy to be reassured I had good organization and communication abilities. Even though the task had been described as “very tedious” to me, the other interns were relieved to hear I actually liked putting it together. Although this internship has been challenging so far, I love a good challenge and will continue to work my hardest to improve myself. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for this semester and see how much I grow as a professional.

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 1.04.10 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-03 at 1.03.49 PM

My Version                                                                       Final Version

Round Two, Here We Go!

Now that I have a semester of experience as a Graduate Assistant in the Center for Global Studies, I definitely feel more comfortable with all my tasks. The first semester taught me how to manage and balance my time between work and study, it enhanced my event planning skills, and it contributed to my professional profile by making me a better leader. Thanks to the experiences of the last semester, I now have better communication and team management skills.

This semester I am looking forward to working along with the interns on the events, social media and the newsletter. As a team we have great communication and team dynamic, and I believe it will get even better with time.

I am also looking forward to be part of World Stories Alive. I have heard so much of this project and have been working on it since last semester, finding the right speakers for every weekend, and it feels good to know that I will finally be able to see it come to life. As a global individual with a passion for foreign language, I am glad to know I am contributing to spread the knowledge of foreign language in young children. One of my favorite aspects of World Stories alive is that the impact goes beyond the university since the targeted audience is not only Penn State students, but everyone in the State College area. World Stories Alive is targeted to children three to eight years old, this will be my first experience working directly with children and I am hoping to learn from this aspect as well.

Also, this semester I will be part of the CGS Brownbag series. I will be giving a talk around expatriates from U.S. multinational companies who are being sent to hardship locations for international assignments. Although I will expand more on this topic on a future blog post, I am also looking forward to talk about my research.

This is the last semester I have left at the Center and for this reason I will make sure I learn as much as I can from this opportunity, and to leave a footprint.