Friday, August 12, 2016

Summer Internship in Colombia: A rewarding experience in "The city of eternal spring"

Students who will be part of the Class of 2017 have started to arrive in Bologna. Meanwhile, last year's students are completing their summer internships and are preparing to move to Washington, DC, for their second and final year of study before they graduate from SAIS.

In previous posts, students have written about their experiences in Brazil, Peru and South Africa

Today, Ileana Valle, a student pursuing the MA program and  focusing on Latin America, tells us about her experience in Medellin, Colombia.

The city of eternal spring” has been my home for the past three months. 

Since arriving to Medellin, Colombia, I have been impressed and enamored with the hospitality, resilience, food, history, and infrastructure.

My internship began at the end of May with Comfama, a non-for-profit organization based out of Medellin, which provides social protection services to over its 2.5 million beneficiaries through 150 service centers. These services include: entrepreneurial financing, housing, education, health, and recreation.

Comfama, which is financially stable and self-sufficient, began as an initiative between unions and the private sector to improve the lives of the working population and aligns with goal #10 of the Global Goals: to reduce inequality within and among countries.

My experience has been gratifying and this is due to the interaction with my colleagues. The projects, which were planned specifically for me, have allowed me to sharpen key skills, to learn about this unique social enterprise model and to lead and take ownership of the work. This translated into a high level of inclusion and sense of belonging.

Outside of work, my summer has consisted of hikng the Piedra del Peñon—a monolithic formation in the town of  Guatapé; dancing champeta in Cartagena; walking the cobble streets of Sante Fe de Antioquia; and hiking mountains in the nearby town La Estrella, located in the Central Andes. One of the most incredible views of any city.

Medellin is a magical city. Without a doubt, a charming and bustling metropolis with a stable and growing economy and impressive infrastructure. In 2014, Medellin held the 43rd place among urban centers with the highest GDP per capita in the world, according to the Brookings Institute’s Global Metro Monitor. Additionally, the city was also named the most innovative in Latin America-- a recognition given by the Wall Street Journal. This meant that Medellin was up against cities like New York and Tel Aviv--all this with the stunning Aburrá Valley as a backdrop. What's more, the strength of its people and their willingness to move forward and progress, has produced many entrepreneurs, innovators, and just simply, hardworking people.

The people here don’t shy away from strangers, less from foreigners—they’re always willing to help and make new friends. I have met and developed such great friend relationships in a short amount of time.


Ileana Valle
SAIS Europe 2016



Thursday, August 4, 2016

Join us for an Online Information Session on August 25

At SAIS Europe we're getting ready to welcome the Class of 2017. 

Next week, the building will be full of students eager to settle into Bologna and to start pre-term classes. It's an exciting time of year for all of us. For us in Admissions it is particularly exciting as we finally get to meet in person the people with whom we've been in touch for so long.

We enjoy interacting with students, but we must fulfill our main duty: to ensure SAIS continues to attract the best candidates. Our eyes now turn to recruitment. 

On August 25 at 3 PM Italian time (1 PM GMT and 9 AM EST), we will hold an online information session. 

The session will last around one hour and it will be an opportunity for us to tell prospective students more about our programs and for prospective students to ask any question.

We know what it takes to choose a graduate program and we want to ensure prospective applicants are as well informed as possible. After a brief presentation of our programs, participants will be able to ask questions through the chat function.

To join the session, you can click on this link. You will need a computer and an internet connection. 

In coming weeks, we will post more information on our online and in-person information sessions during the fall season.

Stay tuned.

Amina Abdiuahab



Thursday, July 28, 2016

Internship in South Africa: Awe and inspiration in the "Rainbow Nation"

It's summer in the Northern Hemisphere and most people are thinking about their holidays. This is not the case for SAIS students who spend their summer working internships around the world.

As we mentioned in previous posts, these internships are a great way for students to learn more about their future careers.

In the last posts, students working internships in Brazil and Peru wrote about their experiences and here is a video of last year's students talking about their summer internship plans.

Today, Chris Jackson, a current student in the MA program focusing on Energy, Resources and Environment, tells us about his experience in Cape Town, South Africa. 

Like half of the students who graduate from SAIS each year, Chris spent his first year at SAIS Europe in Bologna and is going to Washington, DC for his second year.

Cape Town is perhaps the most awe inspiring place one can imagine.

Firstly it is a visual paradise and a feast for the senses. Whether its climbing the world famous table mountain, sipping Merlot in Constantia's vineyards, seeing Zebra, Ostriches, Baboons and Springbok on the side of the road to work or the fantastic food, the place never ceases to awe and inspire.

Writing on the sand in Cape Town
Cities, like all communities, are defined by their people as much as their place and South Africa is no exception. Nelson Mandela once said that South Africa is the "Rainbow Nation", reflecting people from all over the world. His words were not merely hyperbole. The country is a veritable smorgasbord of nationalities, ethnicity, ages and faiths.

This summer I have been working for Clifftop Colony Capital Partners, a South African Corporate Finance firm, which specializes in securing financing for African start-ups, entrepreneurs and African tech funds.

My role involved evaluating business plans and proposals for new prospective clients; constructing corporate marketing material to promote clients to international investors; researching African and global tech industry trends; building profiles on the requirements, preferences and financing available from international investors; and lastly, corporate due diligence on Clifftop’s current and potential clients.

Africa is considered to be the home of the world’s most frontier equity and debt investments and Clifftop position themselves as a bridge between international investors in the US, UK and Europe, and entrepreneurs across the African continent, by offering experience with local challenges and an extensive network of strategic relationships to both parties.

Stunning views

During my time here I had the pleasure of listening to Moeletsi Mbeki, Chairman of the South African Institute of International Affairs and leading economist, who spoke eloquently on South Africa's challenges and I have had the pleasure of meeting over a dozen small businesses, who have helped me understand the opportunities of the South African economy.

South Africa is the finance capital of Africa. It is a bridge to the West, through London, a bridge to the East, through Malaysia and India, and a central force in driving innovation throughout Africa. For anyone trying to understand how business on the African continent works, the importance of good governance on economic growth and poverty alleviation or even for those who simply have a hunger to see untouched beauty in the world, it is hard to beat South Africa.

Chris Jackson
SAIS Europe 2016

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Summer Internship in Peru: Putting my newly acquired economics skills to the test

The majority of students at SAIS work an internship in the summer between their first and second year of study. The internships are an opportunity for students to gain more insight into the careers they'd like to pursue after SAIS. 

The locations of the internships are as diverse as the student body at SAIS Europe, where students come from several dozen countries and represent all continents.

In the last post, students working in Brazil talked about their experiences. This week, Michelle Mora, a student in the MA program focusing on Latin America, tells us about her professional, cultural and personal experience in Lima, Peru.

Pisco sours, fresh ceviche, dune buggying and --the most exciting of all-- international trade in action. That about sums up my summer, although it’s winter here, in Peru.

I'm originally from Illinois and before starting my master's degree at SAIS Europe, I worked in international recruiting in Miami for four years.  After an incredibly challenging, rewarding, and fun year in Bologna, I again hopped continents and quickly settled into Lima, Peru, where I have been working at the U.S. Commercial Service for the past two months.
Michelle (right) with two fellow SAIS classmates in Lima, Peru

The Commercial Service is the trade promotion arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Agency tasked with promoting U.S. exports internationally.

My days have been filled with matchmaking meetings between Peruvian and U.S. companies looking to do business; preparing for trade shows; and attending cross-agency meetings with Economic and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Officers at the Embassy.

I have enjoyed putting my newly acquired economics skills to the test by researching and drafting market reports on “SMART city” initiatives, education, healthcare, and intellectual property protections in Peru, among other topics. I had the opportunity to attend a few Embassy events including the Peruvian-American bi-national party; the Ambassador’s Fourth of July party --in which Peruvian President-elect Pablo Pedro Kuczynski  stopped by for a surprise speech; and, arguably my favorite, a USDA “Burgers and Beer” event promoting U.S. beef and craft beer exports to Peru.

Outside of work, I have been enjoying living with two other fellow SAIS Latin American Studies students who are also working in Lima. We have been adventuring and tasting our way around this beautiful country. Consistently rated as one of the top culinary destinations in the world, Peru has some of the freshest, most complex and diverse plates I have ever seen. Every trip to the supermarket includes trying a new fruit or vegetable.  Just considering potatoes, Peru has more than 3,800 varieties!

In Huacachina

On the weekends we have visited the sea lions and penguins at Las Islas Ballestas (coined “the poor man’s Galapagos”), screamed our heads off on a dune buggy ride in the coastal desert town of Huacachina, and watched the condors soar over Colca Canyon, one of the world’s deepest canyons.

With only one month to go before heading to Washington, DC for my final year, I look forward to continued challenges at work, a trip to the Amazon, Machu Picchu trekking, visiting Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, and maybe a few more pisco sours.


Michelle Mora 
SAIS Europe 2016

Monday, July 11, 2016

Postcards from Brazil

With the Olympics just a few weeks away in Brazil, our SAIS students wanted to share their experiences of studying the Portuguese language at SAIS Europe, in addition to their reflections of living and working in Brazil during their summer internships. Below are their postcards to us. Enjoy the read. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Some questions and answers

We're getting ready to welcome the students who will be part of the Class of 2017.

We've been receiving a lot of questions from incoming students -- quite rightly since coming to Bologna involves a great deal of preparation. 

Below, we've grouped some of the most frequently asked questions. If you have more questions, or you wish to get more details on any of topics below, you can reach us via email at sais.eu.admissions@jhu.edu.

ACADEMICS
Q: I have been given access to the online pre-calculus tutorial, am I required to take the course and the quiz?
A: As you know, our curriculum has a strong quantitative focus and we want to make sure you arrive with the adequate quantitative skills that will allow you to tackle the coursework. This is why we give you access to the pre-calculus tutorial and we ask you to take a quiz at the end.

Although it is not a requirement that will impact your admission, you are asked to follow the tutorial
and to take the quiz at the end. This will help us understand whether we need to help you get up to speed with your math skills.

If you've not received access to the online tutorial, be sure to get in touch with us.

Q: I have a strong quantitative background, do I need to take the pre-calculus tutorial and test?
A: If you have a strong math background, you can probably get through pre-calculus quickly. Once you have taken the quiz, we strongly recommend that you dedicate your time to the calculus review and quiz.

Q: How do I qualify to take the waiver exams in economics?
A: The purpose of the waiver exams is to allow those who have already taken the required economics courses to take more advanced courses while at SAIS.

To qualify for the waiver, you must have completed a course equivalent to the SAIS economics course and received a grade equivalent to a B- or higher. Look at this page for information on the economics waiver exams.

Q: I would like to pursue a different concentration than the one I indicated in my application. Can I change concentration?
A: Yes, you will be able to change concentration once you arrive in Bologna. The only concentration you will not be able to change to is International Development (IDEV), which is the only concentration with capped enrollment.

Those interested in switching to Strategic Studies will have to make a formal request. Information will be available at the Registrar's Office.

Q: I would like to pursue a different course in pre-term than the one I selected. Can I change?
A: Those coming for pre-term can take courses in intermediate microeconomics, intensive and survival Italian, or intensive English.

If you've been required to take intensive English you will not be able to change your registration. 

If you signed for the other courses and you've changed your mind, you should contact the Registrar's Office at sais.eu.registrar@jhu.edu before the deadline for registration on June 30.

VISA & HEALTH INSURANCE
Q: I've not booked my visa appointment yet. Will I be able to obtain my visa in time for classes?
A: You should book your appointment as soon as possible. It's difficult to predict how long it might take the Embassy to process your visa. Some take a few days, others can take weeks. You'll do yourself a favor by booking an appointment as soon as possible. 

If you're planning on coming for pre-term or if you are a student in the Master of Arts in Global Risk (MAGR) program, you should book an appointment immediately to make sure you can be on a plane before August 18, when pre-term classes and classes for MAGR students in the begin.

Q: I've been asked to provide proof of health insurance. What can I do?
A: In the visa letters, we clearly state that all students are automatically signed up for a health insurance plan. However, some Embassies might require additional information. If you're in this situation, please get in touch with us.

Q: I have an EU passport, do I need health insurance in Italy?
A: If you are a European Union citizen you should apply for a European health card. Such card, will give you the same access to healthcare as Italians.

Generally, only residents of an EU country are able to apply for a European Health card. If you don't qualify for a European Health card, you will be enrolled in the plan provided by SAIS, unless you have adequate coverage already.


Amina Abdiuahab




Friday, May 20, 2016

Thoughts on Food and Food for Thought

The academic year in Bologna has come to an end.  As many students head off to summer internships around the world, Lauren Purnell, a student in the Master of Arts program pursuing the International Development concentration, shares her experiences of a recent study trip to Rome with Professor Jacqueline Mazza. Below are her reflections.

Rome acts as a hub for U.N. organizations, focusing on the food security and agriculture sectors.

The headquarters of the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) are all located in Rome. 

I and 22 of my classmates had the opportunity to visit all three organizations this past May during a two-day study trip with Professor Jacqueline Mazza who teaches a course on Market Policies in Developing Countries: Rethinking Approaches in a Global Age.


As part of this unique experience, we received lectures on a wide range of topics related to food security and labor. On the first day at the WFP, for example, we heard from experts on emergency operations and capacity development. Following these presentations, we visited the IFAD to learn more about rural employment challenges, remittances, and investment.


On the second day of the study trip, we observed a presentation by Prof. Mazza to FAO on her book “Labor Intermediation Services in Developing Economies, Adapting Employment Services in a Global Age.”  This lecture was followed by a technical lecture on the effect of conditional cash transfers on labor markets and a talk on trade and employment.


The two day study trip proved quite a valuable and enriching experience.

The educational value received from this trip was undeniable. We had the rare opportunity to ask questions directly to experts and have in-depth discussions. 

Staff members at all three organizations were happy to engage us on these topics and were very enthusiastic to find so many young scholars interested in these fields. The learning experience of the trip not only benefited us but also staff members at these organizations, opening dialogues and exchanges that will continue on.

Lauren Purnell 
(SAIS Europe 2016)

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