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Internship at U.S. Department of State
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Benjamin Rowles

Paterno Fellow
Major: English
Hometown: Chester Springs, PA

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I received an email about the U.S. Department of State's student internship program from a Schreyer Honors College newsletter. I applied during the application window for summer (open approximately in September and October) through https://www.usajobs.gov.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

I interned for the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, in the Cultural Programs Division. The Cultural Programs Division engages in cultural diplomacy; that is, it aims to promute mutual understanding between citizens of the U.S. and of other countries through cultural exchange programs. I provided administrative support for cultural exchange programs including American Music Abroad, the Arts Envoy Program, the International Writing Program, Center Stage, and American Film Showcase. I had the opportunity to help assemble grant packages, write speeches, and conduct research on new exchange program opportunities. Additionally, I was able to see the results of my work when exchange programs took place in Washington, D.C. For example, I met an Algerian reggae band called Democratoz, which participated in Center Stage. That was just the best.

How did this experience impact you academically?

This experience has made me interested in international education. I have taken some education and tutoring-focused classes on campus, and hope to take others with an international bent. I am also interested in learning more about U.S foreign policy.

What are your career goals and plans?  How did this experience impact them?

My career goals and plans are to combine my interests in urban and international education, first through a degree in comparative and international education, and then through a research career focused on bringing insights from other countries to U.S. urban education, and vice versa. I am continuing my experience in international education this academic year, when I will be e-tutoring Ecuadorian college students majoring in English through the State Department's Virtual Student Foreign Service program.

I absolutely would recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students. You get to do real work in foreign affairs and meet amazing people who are shaping U.S. diplomacy. 

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

I absolutely would recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students. You get to do real work in foreign affairs and meet amazing people who are shaping U.S. diplomacy. I was able to volunteer at events where I saw Second Lady of the United States Jill Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, and other big names speak, and my division colleagues were wonderful.

How has the Paterno Fellows Program had an impact on this experience?

Paterno Fellow enrichment funds helped me participate in international experiences including a development economics venture in rural Kenya through an embedded course and a human rights excursion in rural Panama via Global Brigades. Both experiences led to my interest in working with the U.S. Department of State.

For more information on internships for Liberal Arts students, visit our website.

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