Internship Field: International Relations, Cultural Diplomacy
Majors: International Relations, Music
Minor: Modern Languages
Duration: June – September 2008
Description: The work was very contingent upon the current programs and proposals of the interns as well, and it was clear that the amount of work and level of responsibility was very dependent upon how effective and creative the intern was, as well as the level of enthusiasm shown for a project. My first tasks were similar to those of many interns, where I wrote articles for the cultural diplomacy news website. I worked on a program called “Canada Meets Germany” and helped write a publicity article on Canadian-German relations, which eventually became the text for the twenty-page brochure. [...]
I soon moved to the Cultural Diplomacy in Africa (CDA) forum, which was to be held in October 2008 and found sponsors and contacts for universities and institutions for the potential speakers as well as participants. My background in African studies also served me well in factchecking articles for content and doing a lot of proofreading work, and got a co-author mention on an article called “Ten Troubles With Africa.” I also wrote various sub-articles for the CDA brochure, including one on Pan-Africanism. I also composed and translated business letters in(to) French for CDA.
Among other tasks, I authored the ICD Stylebook after proofreading the brochures for other programs and realizing the need for a single-style of English writing, especially given the fact that brochures were almost always pieced together by writers from all over the world abiding by different rules. This was a good example of being given work through my own initiative, as the ICD very much welcomes these. I also helped create a presentation for Deutsche Bank for an independent project related to South Africa.
Personally rewarding: Definitely getting to know my fellow interns. I was lucky to have been able to stay in Berlin, to where so many young people flock. [...] The interns I met from all over the world – England, Austria, Belgium, Nigeria, Croatia, Australia, Singapore, Poland, the Netherlands and of course, Germany – were amazing colleagues, with many of whom I have developed lasting friendships. They not only made the workday fly by (rarely was there a day when I was staring down the clock until the end of the day) but became an extended family, so to speak. They also gave me ample opportunity to speak and practice German outside the workplace.
German language skills: It is funny, because the lingua franca at the ICD is English, and a prerequisite for applying to be an intern is strong writing skills in English, and yet my German skills vastly improved, simply because I spent a substantial time with enough German-speaking people who spoke German and read a good amount of internet material in German (as well as ICD material in German), and I had many interactions during the summer with Germans (both in relation to the ICD and much of the time without). Also, being in an office in Berlin undeniably exposed me to German office vocabulary. However, much of my German improvement was through my own initiative: I read the German news constantly and was actively trying to soak up everything in sight, as well as dedicating time in continuing to study the finer details of the language.
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