Friday, December 11, 2009

The end

Well the internship was certainly more exciting at the beginning with the conferences and everything about Iran going on. But I used the last couple of weeks to start packing and shipping things home and to research for my paper. Berlin was amazing! I recommend it for anyone who likes history! Getting to see the Reichstag, the Berlin Wall, the Ishtar Gate, etc...... was amazing!!

One cool thing that happened a couple of weeks before I left was the Marine Ball! Tickets were a bit pricey, but since I had brought a dress with me anyways, and I wouldn't get to go to any other balls, I decided to pay and go! It was super fun, and had really good food!

My last weekend, my roommates and I decided to go to Prague for the weekend since it's only a 4 hour train trip from Vienna. I wish I had weeks to spend there because 1.5 days was not enough time at all! We saw Charles Bridge, the Torture Museum, and the big Cathedral inside Prague Castle. A lot of walking was involved...a lot!

My mom and little brother flew over to Europe to meet me in Paris the day after my internship ended, so we spent a little less than a week there...including Thanksgiving, which was spent in the Hard Rock Cafe!


Well this internship was a huge eye opener for me. When I got to Vienna in September I didn't even really know what the IAEA was or what exactly it was that I would be doing there. I learned a lot about nuclear issues, mostly about non-proliferation, which suits my master's degree just fine since it's about International Security. I also got to know Vienna really well. I had been there 10 years ago on a school trip but we were only in the city for a couple of days so it was nice to be able to get to know the public transportation and the city and everything I didn't get to see then.

I would encourage anyone who wants to be involved with the State Department, or the government in general, to at least apply for an internship. Even if you don't get it the first time you apply, I applied every semester and most summer from the time I graduated high school, and it finally paid off!

I had such a fun time in Vienna and everywhere I got to travel too; and I also learned a lot! Hopefully my time there will pay off (literally I hope! :) ) with whatever job that I begin in the future!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

PACT, a Reception and Berlin!

The main thing that I went to this week was a PACT event that was featuring Ambassador Nancy Brinker and Professor Peter Boyle called The Globalization of Cancer. Ambassador Brinker is currently the WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Cancer Control, and she is the one who started the Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure for her sister. Professor Boyle is the President at the International Prevention Research Institute. It was actually really interesting and opened my eyes to the reality of cancer in 3rd world countries, that around 50% of women in those countries die of breast cancer; a cancer that 97% of women in the more developed countries survive. Professor Boyle opened my eyes as well, when he was speaking mainly of tobacco related cancer and death and said that the number of tobacco related deaths will dump by the millions, if not tens or hundreds of millions in the next century.

Later that night, there was a reception held at Ambassador Davies' house (The ambassador where I work, at UNVIE) honoring both Ambassador Brinker and Professor Boyle. I was invited to that and got to meet both of Amb. Brinker and Prof. Boyle and talk with them for a little bit during the night. It was a pretty awesome reception, with good food and drinks! I also got to network a little, got some business cards, that kind of thing....which can never be a bad thing!

At the end of the week was when I left for Berlin! be continued

Amerika Haus and the Bilat (embassy)

Well, I got back from Finland on the 12th which conveniently was an American holiday (Columbus Day) and on Tuesday I went to what is called the Amerika Haus to help the Bilat intern set up and generally help out with an event which had professors and students talking about a program held between Butler University and Vienna during the summer. It was pretty interesting, they went on trips in the US that I would have liked to go on, like the Route 66 trip and the trip down the Mississippi, both by buses. Afterwards I went back to the Bilat, but didn't really do anything but look around because it was around 3-4pm and nothing really was happening.

The next day, the 14th, I was back at the Bilat and drafted some memos for my "boss" of the day which was a new experience for me. I also (tried to) update the Intellipedia article on Vienna. It's like Wikipedia, but for the intelligence community and other government employees. That did not work out since I have not really ever taken a computer class I'm kind of clueless when it comes to editing web pages, but it was an interesting little side street to what I would normally do!

Also, I got to meet Ambassador Eacho! He's a really nice, fun guy it seemed like, very down to earth. He just chatted with us ( I was with Zach, the Bilat intern) about school and if we liked it here, etc..., but then we had to leave because the boy scouts were coming in.

That was about it that week, pretty quiet because of the holiday at the beginning.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Finland October 10th-12th!

The weekend of the 10th, I went up to Finland to visit a friend I hadn't seen in over 5 years! It was a short, but sweet trip up there, and pretty interesting since I have never been to Finland before. I flew into Helsinki- not the best flight, but not the worst, I'm a bad judge since I think all flights are terrible though... and stayed there for 1 night and then we went to Turku, where my friend lives, and stayed at his house the next night and then I went back to Vienna the next day!

This is the Olympic tower, where the flame was kept burning during the 1952 summer Olympics. It was 11 stories high, I think, and had amazing views. (No worries, I did not die trying to walk up all those stairs...there was an elevator! In fact, you could not even use the stairs at all)
These two pictures are views from the top of the Olympic spiral flame holder at the Olympic stadium where the 1952 Olympics were held. Once again I lucked out and it was beautiful (but freezing) out!

This is the National History Museum. It was a lot bigger inside than I thought it would be, we spent probably 3 hours in there. But it was very very interesting, probably because I had never been in a museum that had really anything about Finland before, so I learned a lot about Finnish history and culture. It had exhibits from the prehistoric times all the way up until present time, including a room on Lapland! (where the reindeer are and Santa supposedly lives)
This is really the only thing I got to see in Turku because we got there around 9pm and so we just walked around the river once and then went back to sleep and I left around 10 the next morning so there wasn't time to do anything, but it is a very pretty city from what I saw and I recommend seeing it because next year it will be a culture capital in Europe!

Belvedere and work

Well the next week on October 4th, I decided to visit Belvedere, home of The Kiss by Gustav Klimt.

Picture by: Wikipedia

Belvedere was amazing! It's such a beautiful building!
These two pictures show the back of the building as well as the view of the gardens. Thankfully I lucked out and it was an amazing day out!
This was just a funny sign that was pointing to a souvenir shop across the street where Sharon Stone apparently bought something.
During work, I began my new project for Heather, the NRC attache, which was writing a draft on conference conclusions for a conference being held in South Africa in December. Yes I know it was the conclusions....apparently they will just add the specifics after the meetings, but would like everything else added before...
I also got to have my courtesy call with our ambassador (not the main Ambassador to Vienna, the ambassador to US Missions). We just sat and chatted about a lot of things for about 30min, what I'm doing, how I like it here, where do I go to school, etc... I also got to know a little more about him, and it's pretty to realize that an ambassador is just a regular guy with a family, not some scary way high up important government man!
On Thursday and Friday, the only thing that really happened was that I helped to set up for some talks that were being held in our office with the Indian delegation, and I got to be their escort up to the office! They were all very nice, and polite.

Klosterneuburg and the NRC

The week of September 27th- October 3rd started off with a trip to the Klosterneuberg Monastery with a friend. It's a very interesting 900 year old monastery/palace/church! We took a tour, which was actually very nice because there was only a British couple with us, so it was like paying for a big general tour but getting a private tour!
The altar piece on the left is called the Verdun Altar and is 900 years old and the little box on top holds the bones of St. Leopold. It is is the second largest gold and enamel alter piece in existence, and there are three rows, one from the Old Testament before Moses, one from the Old Testament after Moses and one is the New Testament.

This is a picture of the front of the church.

Picture by: Chtamina

At the start of the week I went to some meetings with the NRC attache Heather. They were really just organizational meetings about the big meetings coming up in December and in 2011, but they were still pretty interesting. I took notes for them and wrote up summaries at the end of each day. The first meeting was the First Extraordinary Meeting and dealt with some changes that had been made to some resolution drafts and the discussion of a hand over meeting for the new officers and when that would take place. The second was called the Fifth Organizational Meeting which basically dealt with the dividing up of the member states into country groups. There was also a time set up for opinions on the review process which went into along drawn out discussion because some countries did not understand what was being said and done for some of the issues discussed. That was September 28th and 29th and on the 30th I finished up my part of the General Plenary cable, which had been to look through every statement in search of what each state had said about Syria and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. (DPRK)

That was about all that happened that week

Monday, October 5, 2009

Week #4 Cool Down and a Record Breaking Weekend!

So, the Week after the GC everything kind of slowed down...a lot. This was when a lot of people took a day or 2 off because the last week was really pretty crazy for most everyone.

I was supposed to join a group of colleagues and go to SAL on Friday the 25th....however..... a little bit of a news popped up that morning that caused just a little bit a stress for everyone...a secret nuclear facility in Iran. Things actually got pretty interesting that day and the following week, reading all the emails sent out and the news reports talking about the IAEA and Vienna- pretty cool to be right in the middle of some big international scandal...kind of.

The coolest thing I did this week was that I was in charge of writing part of the GC cable; the parts about the meetings I attended by myself. So I was told that I wrote well (thank you GPS English teachers!) however I needed to basically pare it down some more, take out filler words, etc... So I did, and apparently it was okay because the cables were sent on!
The only other thing that happened that week, that I was involved in, was a brown bag lunch to talk about"lessons learned" I was just there as a spectator to listen in on what they were talking about, so it was pretty interesting hearing what they thought went right and what didn't during the Conference.
So that was basically it for the work week.....

On Sunday 9/27 another intern and I decided to head down to the Prater (the big ferris wheel and amusement park) to watch the "record breaking" day. It was called Vienna Recordia. It was pretty amusing if only to people watch...mullets, weird shaved haircuts, interesting clothing...and the cutest dog I have ever seen! We didn't really see a lot of it because we got there after it had started and left before it had ended... But, we did see a man bouncing a soccer ball on his head (apparently he'd been at it for a couple of hours before we got there). unfortunately he did not break that record. We also saw a man trying to break the record for how many M&Ms he could eat with a chopstick in 5 min. It was pretty funny to watch, and he did break that record. Another record being broken we saw was a man rolling a car up and down part of a parking lot (we didn't actually see him...he was on the big screen). And the last thing we saw before we left was a man doing yoga... we weren't sure how long he had been doing it how long he had to go though. This is all coming from looking at the pictures in the pamphlet and watching...since neither of us really speak any German. Sadly, we missed the tallest man in the world :(

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

GC picture

Originally uploaded by IAEA Imagebank
Part of the US delegation, including me! (the back of me at least) I'm the one on the right.

2nd week- General Conference Time!

Originally uploaded by IAEA Imagebank

September 14th
Today was the first day of the 53rd IAEA General Conference. First thing was that Secretary Chu (yes, the secretary of energy!) came down to the US delegation room to talk during the delegation meeting and then we all headed out to the Plenary meeting for the welcoming speech and the beginning of the national statements.
After breaking for, but before I ate, lunch, I attended part of a seminar on US civil nuclear programs and after lunch I attended a briefing about Technical Cooperation (TC).
September 15th
This was basically the same thing as Monday was, listening to statements during the main Plenary meetings. It's basically what it was all week. I helped to take notes during part of the meetings and so had to pay more attention than I would if I was doing nothing, and it helped that as the conference went on, things became more interesting as resolutions and amendments, etc... were debated.
There was an interesting point towards lunch time after Israel had read their statement, when Iran spoke up and said that they wanted to reply to that statement as they are entitled to under Rule 58, which states that "During the course of a debate the presiding officer may announce a list of speakers and, with the consent of the General Conference, declare the list closed. He may, however, accord the right of reply to any delegate if a speech delivered after the list has been closed makes this desirable" (GC Rules and Procedures). So the President ruled that we had to wait for the last 3 countries to speak and then Iran got about 3 minutes to reply to the statement. It wasn't exciting as we all though it would be when they first brought it up, but it was still a little ripple of anticipation of what was to come later on.

September 16th
I started out at the Plenary meeting and then Stephanie (my boss) took me out to the Committee of the Whole (CoW) meeting that was taking place to listen to some of the debate going on about the resolutions. While I didn't understand a lot of what was being talked about, or why people were arguing over 1 or 2 words in a sentence, it was still really interesting to basically see diplomacy in action.
After that I went back to the Plenary to take notes again. The statements were all mainly about the nuclear programs of whichever country was speaking and if they had been set up, or if they wanted to set them up, etc...
That afternoon I went to a PACT meeting. PACT stands for Program of Action for Cancer Therapy. The meeting I went to was about cancer prevention in developing countries around the world, but focused on Tanzania, Mongolia and Vietnam where there were Model Demonstration Sites (PMDS) set up, and had speakers from all three of those countries talking about PACT and what it and the IAEA in general were doing for their countries. The Nigerian ambassador also spoke for a little bit on behalf of his wife about the need to make cancer treatment a priority in global health management.

September 17th - My Birthday!

Well the day started out with me getting a birthday cake from a co-worker! Very yummy cake, and also a present of Skippy Peanut Butter and a nice card from another! I also got a happy birthday from the Israeli ambassador, which was pretty cool! More statements to listen to, and I was the "offical" notetaker this morning instead of just taking over for people who had to leave the meeting early! I took notes on the statements from Zambia, Zimbabwe, Norway, Columbia, Singapore, Bangladesh, and Niger. I thought that they were all really interesting, except the ones that were kind of difficult to understand... because when taking notes I had to listen extra carefully to get down the points I was supposed to- Middle East in general, Iran, Syria, DPRK, fuel bank, etc..

After lunch, I went to a meeting on the European Regional Meeting where they were talking about program implementation and preparation of strategy for the Europe Region TCP (technical cooperation program). It was pretty interesting, but basically just the basics of what the European Region TCP was and some talk about budgets, etc...

After that I went back to the CoW meeting were they were hashing out the resolution paragraph by paragraph. It's different than the Plenary because the answers and statements are shorter and it's more discussion/argumentative and they are in response in each other's answers/questions/arguments. The resolution that was being worked on when I sat in was about non-power generating nuclear stuff, i.e. producing potable water, cancer therapy, water resource management, etc...

September 18th

Today was very interesting! As the last day of the GC, it was crammed full of stuff that people had been waiting for the last day to push through. The first plenary session in the morning dealt with the Israeli Nuclear Capabilities (INC) resolution that the Arab states brought to the floor for discussion. It was a very spirited debate! The resolution basically wants the agency to force all countries with nuclear capabilities, including Israel, to adhere to the Non-Proliferation treaty (NPT). Canada asked for a non action vote which did not pass in favor of the Arab states and so from there it went to a vote as to see if it would pass in whole and the Arab states and those that voted with them won with the vote at 49-45 with 16 abstaining. While it was a loss for the US and its allies, from a complete newcomer's perspective it was really interesting and kind of exciting to watch this all unfold. The meeting let out for lunch and we came back and it was just more talk afterwards and the plenary was supposed to come back at 6pm to talk about other resolutions that were being debated no in the CoW, but just past 6, a note came on the big screens saying that the Plenary would not begin again until 9pm, so I was sent home. I found out later that it didn't end until around 1am Saturday morning.

Saturday I basically just walked around, did some shopping, bought groceries- tried to do everything I could because most everything is closed on Sundays.

Sunday I went to the zoo with a friend I met here who is studying abroad from Canada. The zoo is at Schonbrunn palace, a little ways away in the gardens of really, so we though it would be this small little zoo. How wrong we were! We spent 4 hours there and didn't cover the entire place. They had all kinds of animals there, but my favorite exhibit was the lemur/meerkat one with polar bears coming in a close second.

photo by the Tiergarten Zoo

Monday, September 21, 2009

Application Process and my first week in Vienna!

The State Department application procedure is kind of long and time consuming, so I would advise people to start the application process as early as possible.

After you finish applying it takes a couple of months to find out if you have an internship or not- I found out late April that I had one, but I knew people who didn't find out until May or June. Then you have to go through the Security Clearance which involved a lot of time on the online form. I would advise you to have a list of every where you have lived in the past 7 years as well as people who knew you at those places- address, phone numbers, etc... That is the part of the process that really takes the most time and be sure to contact them every couple of weeks to know how far along you are with waiting and everything.

So I did all that and got my arrival date for September 3rd!

Week 1

I got into Vienna around 1-ish on Thursday September the 3rd and was taken to my apartment. That was basically all that happened that day because I fell asleep almost immediately. So I woke up around midnight, could not fall asleep (thank you jet lag) and got up to go to my first day of work around 7am. It wasn't really work I found out, because I was running around between UNVIE (US Mission to Int'l Organizations) and the embassy working on badges and security stuff, etc... So i got all that done and barely made it to the grocery store to buy some milk and cereal before it close around 7 that night. That weekend, I really did not do anything but sleep and try and get over my jet lag. although I did go out Friday night (yes, the night after I got into the country...) and went to a few bars/clubs with some Americans, but that was basically it.

On Monday, work(my 1st official day) started with a bang because the Board of Governor's (BoG) meeting was that whole week. Well that was basically a jump into the deep end for me because I had no idea what was going on, or really even what the Board was... But it was very interesting! My job was to go around after during the talks (every 45min or so) and pick up copies of each country's statement. That brought me way out of my comfort zone! While it took a couple of days to get used to listening to the statements, which could take be up to 10min long, when I get used to them, what the different countries were saying was really interesting. That was basically all that happened that week- lots and lots of statements.

The weekend after the BoG was finished, I went out and go to know some colleagues better over drinks and went to the Notre Dame/Michigan football game that Saturday (even though they were not playing my game... UT vs. UCLA...) it was still a good time and lots of fun! Didn't really do anything on Sunday....mostly because there's not really that much to do since all the stores are closed, and only the tourist stuff is open, but I went out and walked around the city a little bit just to look around. I did make it to Schonbrunn Palace, just to the state rooms though, to break it up into a couple days of sightseeing because there's a lot to see there.