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The German Marshall Fund of the United States
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Tessa Sontheimer

Major: Global and International Studies & Community, Environment, and Development
Hometown: Gettysburg, PA

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I learned about the experience from the Washington Program in the College of Communications. I also searched often on Idealist.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

I was in Tanzania for the month of May. I traveled to Arusha with the Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship program (thanks to a PLA grant!). My team and I conducted research about the fired brick manufacturing process and interviewed masons, photographed existing methods to create a virtual reality experience, and constructed a test kiln and stove. For the rest of the summer I interned at The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) which is a think tank founded as a memorial to the Marshall Plan and which seeks to improve transatlantic relationships and cooperation. I was in the Urban and Regional Policy Department and worked on a few projects, mostly researching/writing and helping with program development.

I learned how important global experiences are to me as an individual and identified specific steps I can take to enrich my experience as a global citizen. 

How did this experience impact you academically?

I learned so much about research, both in a policy setting and in the field. Not only was I able to author a report at GMF, I learned about how the process surrounding these papers worked which is an incredibly important insight. I learned how important global experiences are to me as an individual and identified specific steps I can take to enrich my experience as a global citizen. Never before has it been more apparent to me how important being bi- or multilingual is. I need to become fluent in 1 or more languages and have started to investigate fellowships that would help equip me with these important skills. I also learned about how I am more interested in non-European issues. I am much more drawn to Asia and African issues, be it development or creation of democratic institutions. I've been lucky enough to be able to explore both of these regions and validate my interests through generous funding, first to India with the Schreyer Signature Program after my freshman year and with funding that helped support my fieldwork in Tanzania. Being in DC and at GMF, also allowed me to build my professional network and I made lots of great connections that will help me with my future pursuits.

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

Going forward, it's clear my internship experience at the German Marshall Fund better informed what career path I want to pursue and in which geographic region my development and democracy interests lie. I learned so much about the intricacies of what it means to live in a world that is increasingly urban and increasingly interconnected and had the opportunity to live in the incredibly fun city of Washington, D.C.. The funding for my internship alongside the travel support I received earlier in my time in Liberal Arts have given me the opportunity to have diverse range of incredibly impactful summer experiences.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

Yes definitely a great experience!

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