Eisenhower Institute News Latest news coverage for the Eisenhower Institute EI panel explores effect of Trump’s actions on immigration http://eisenhowerinstitute.org/news/news_detail.dot?inode=fa4e3680-c1ac-46e1-8d1c-13e29c5d3215&pageTitle=EI+panel+explores+effect+of+Trump%E2%80%99s+actions+on+immigration http://eisenhowerinstitute.org/news/news_detail.dot?inode=fa4e3680-c1ac-46e1-8d1c-13e29c5d3215&pageTitle=EI+panel+explores+effect+of+Trump%E2%80%99s+actions+on+immigration By Brendan Salyards, Contributing Writer, The Gettysburgian

The Eisenhower Institute Undergraduate Fellows held a panel Thursday on the topic of immigration as they continue their ongoing study of refugee resettlement in the United States. This, the third in their series this year, was titled “Lady Liberty’s Poor and Huddled Masses: Rethinking Refugees in America.”

The bulk of the questions in the moderated portion of the panel pertained to recent actions by the Trump administration to curtail immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. Panelists agreed that many of the actions hindered their mission of settling refugees in the United States.

Panelists included Stephanie Gromek, the Community Service Coordinator for Church World Services in Lancaster; Tania Lee, an information, communications, technology (ICT) practitioner currently working as a freelancer for Cultural Orientation Resources Exchange; and Giulia McPherson, the Director of Advocacy and Operations at Jesuit Refugee Service/USA.

Questions covered topics such as the recent immigration ban itself, the rhetoric surrounding immigration and refugee resettlement, and the detainment of public figures at airports as they try to enter the country.

The final question of the moderated portion of the panel concerned the use of biometrics as a means of keeping track of refugee services. Lee explained the advantages that such technology provides in ensuring that benefits are allocated accurately and commented on the potential problems of ensuring that such information remains uncompromised. She also shared some of the problems that NGOs face is in expanding the use of biometrics, which include laws concerning where information can be stored and a lack of funding to support the use of such technology.

The audience questions probed the work of NGOs more directly.

They concerned the advantages and disadvantages of a privately-funded refugee resettlement program, the process of resettlement, the effects of a scale back in US foreign aid, and actions that individuals can take to assist organizations involved in resettlement.

The panelists agreed that the proposed budget cuts to foreign aid would negatively affect efforts to resettle refugees in the United States and shared stories of specific impacts such cuts could have.

One interesting discussion point surrounded the possibility of allowing privately-funded organizations to work in the field of resettlement, as is permitted in Canada. This private system existed in the United States before the current public-private partnership (the government provides limited money to organizations that resettle refugees) that exists today was implemented. No such move is on the horizon.

The panel concluded with panelists appealing to attendees to raise their voices in advocacy for refugees and the organizations that resettle them.

Piper O’Keefe ’17, an Undergraduate Fellow, said, “The panel provided an especially interesting perspective on the role of NGOs in the refugee resettlement process. Considering the negative rhetoric surrounding refugees coming from the administration, the roles played by these organizations and individuals in general is more vital than ever to ensure a welcoming community for all in our nation.”

Click here to view additional photos from this campus debate.

This article originally appeared in The Gettysburgian on March 5, 2017. Reprinted with permission; click to view the original article.

Thu, 30 Mar 2017 03:38:12 EDT
EI Policy Debate Probes Foreign, Domestic Issues http://eisenhowerinstitute.org/news/news_detail.dot?inode=0c413239-51e6-453e-9eff-8148d601deda&pageTitle=EI+Policy+Debate+Probes+Foreign%2C+Domestic+Issues http://eisenhowerinstitute.org/news/news_detail.dot?inode=0c413239-51e6-453e-9eff-8148d601deda&pageTitle=EI+Policy+Debate+Probes+Foreign%2C+Domestic+Issues By Jeremy Porter, Staff Writer, The Gettysburgian

On Wednesday evening, the Eisenhower Institute held a campus-wide policy debate. The widely-attended event took place in Mara Auditorium, and was moderated by visiting assistant professor of political science Douglas Page.

The debaters, twelve in total, were representatives for one of the six politically-oriented clubs on campus: the College Republicans, College Democrats, College Independents, Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), and Gettysburg Anti-Capitalist Collective (GACC).

The fundamental purpose of the debate was to promote political discourse among Gettysburg students, according to EI discussions chair Marley Dizney Swanson ’18.

As stragglers shuffled into the auditorium and the remaining slices of pizza were snatched, Professor Page opened the floor to the debaters, allotting each pair of representatives two minutes to provide information regarding both their club’s fundamental beliefs and practicalities like when and where they meet.

Page then outlined the format of the debate: he would pose a series of questions, some pre-planned and some generated by the audience, to which the representatives would respond in seat order. Following their responses, they each had the opportunity to rebut the points of another group.

The debate began with a question about President Trump and his actions regarding international trade agreements. Representatives from YAF and YAL agreed that the United States should remain a part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a deal of which, in its current form, Trump is not supportive, and that Adam Smith-style free trade is the most logical and efficient economic system.

The College Democrats and College Independents also believe that our country should engage in free trade and stay in NAFTA, but both groups emphasized the importance of balancing international trade with environmental regulations.

Conversely, debaters from both GACC and the College Republicans stressed the necessity to get out of NAFTA and other global trade agreements, but the clubs had different reasoning for their views. The Republicans favor bilateral trade agreements and adopted an “America First” stance, urging President Trump to bring back manufacturing jobs to the US. GACC, however, established its belief that all global trade deals are harmful to the environment and that the capitalist system is inherently flawed.

For the second question of the debate, Professor Page asked the representatives how they thought the Affordable Care Act should be handled by the Trump administration.

GACC and the College Democrats agreed that healthcare is a fundamental human right, but the former thinks a single-payer system, akin to the one currently in place in Canada, is the way to go.

The Independents argued that it would be too difficult to repeal the Affordable Care Act, saying that it instead must be reformed by lowering medical procedure costs and malpractice lawsuits.

The general consensus among the remaining three clubs was that the act must be repealed and replaced with a private, more economically competitive system to drive down costs.

The next few questions focused on topics ranging from foreign policy to the judiciary.

When asked their beliefs about the power of the executive and whether or not President Trump has overstepped his boundaries with his executive orders, YAF and the College Republicans argued that Trump’s actions are neither unconstitutional nor unforeseen. They cited the forced return of Haitian refugees from the US under the Bush and Clinton administrations in the 1990s and explained that Trump’s actions are necessary in order to protect Americans.

In opposition, the remaining club representatives denounced the president’s executive orders and asserted that, in the past, such orders have only really been used for governmental “housekeeping.”

In regards to a question concerning the role of torture in American foreign policy, each club condemned the use of torture methods such as waterboarding, but YAF and the Republicans feel that tactics like sleep deprivation should be used in extreme cases when it is clear an attack can be prevented.

On the contrary, YAL emphasized the importance of civil military transparency and the need to close Guantanamo Bay, and the Independents explained that the US needs to act as the global standard of morality and ethics.

Another interesting question posed at the debate was whether or not Senate Democrats should obstruct Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, a Trump appointee. Five out of the six clubs, including the College Democrats, argued that the Senate needs to do its job and confirm Gorsuch to avoid the dangers of an incomplete court.

GACC, however, contended that obstruction in the name of justice is perfectly acceptable and an integral part of democracy.

In the final portion of the debate, the panelists answered questions from the audience, which were either hand-written or live-tweeted to the EI Twitter page.

One audience member asked if Trump’s behavior regarding the press is dictatorial. YAF and the Republicans agreed that biased press deserves to be called out if it is perpetuating the falsehoods about the president that are circulating in the American public.

The Democrats and Independents stated that while Trump has the right to argue with the press, he must do so in a modest and professional manner, which he has failed to do so far during his presidency.

YAL and GACC representatives took the question as an opportunity to express their own values: YAL stressed the provisions of freedom of speech and press in the first amendment, and GACC explained how it feels Trump has been oppressive towards women, minorities, and other underrepresented groups.

The second question from the audience was arguably the night’s most contentious: what are the clubs’ views on abortion? The audience temporarily erupted with chatter after the question was read, and Professor Page banged the gavel, calling for silence.

Despite the emotional reaction, the clubs’ answers were fairly predictable. The more conservative groups contended that life starts at conception and abortion is immoral (the Republicans did add that the disparity in healthcare costs for men and women must be reduced), and the more liberal groups advocated for the funding of Planned Parenthood and pro-choice policies.

Representatives from YAL, however, explained how the organization as a whole has not come to a consensus on the issue, and they did not want to argue on behalf of all members.

The evening concluded with a final statement from each club’s representatives. They thanked Swanson and Page, for organizing and moderating the event, respectively. They also expressed their appreciation for the large crowd turnout.

If there was one thing on which all the debaters agreed Wednesday night, it was the importance of listening to others and engaging in open political conversation in an era defined by political polarization and civil cynicism.

Click here to view additional photos from this campus debate.

This article originally appeared in The Gettysburgian on February 24, 2017. Reprinted with permission; click to view the original article.

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 09:59:03 EDT
EI Students Bridge the American-Russian Divide http://eisenhowerinstitute.org/news/news_detail.dot?inode=daee49c6-c715-4144-a0b3-884324adf37d&pageTitle=EI+Students+Bridge+the+American-Russian+Divide http://eisenhowerinstitute.org/news/news_detail.dot?inode=daee49c6-c715-4144-a0b3-884324adf37d&pageTitle=EI+Students+Bridge+the+American-Russian+Divide

During the weekend of February 11-12, 2017, Eisenhower Institute participants from Susan Eisenhower’s Strategy and Leadership in Transformational Times (SALTT) program held a conference with student counterparts from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Azerbaijan on the current challenges between the United States and the countries of the former Soviet Union. Marking the 25th anniversary of the dissolution of the USSR, the students discussed the tensions between the United States and Russia, the internal challenges facing the former Soviet republics and the United States, and the cultural stereotypes and misunderstandings that  are inhibiting a constructive relationship.

The two-day conference ended with a trip to the Eisenhower Farm Historical Site, where Susan Eisenhower emphasized the visit of Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev to Gettysburg in 1959. The meeting between Khrushchev and Eisenhower provided an apt symbol for the students as they undertook their own conversations during another tense time between the United States and Russia.

The visiting students from the former Soviet Union were selected and led by Dr. Anton Fedyashin of American University’s Carmel Institute of Russian Culture and History. The students included full-time undergraduate and graduate students from American University and students from Russian universities spending a semester abroad at American. Yulia Melnikova from MGIMO University in Moscow said of the experience: “the trip to Gettysburg has been the…most fascinating experience of mine in the USA…The fact that we could agree on certain issues and have an argument on the others; listen, understand and teach each other made me believe in feasibility of improvement of mutual relations between our countries. Since in the end, we are the same people, who have similar problems, complaints, aspirations, and dreams.”

Colleen Maher ’18 shared, “the way I perceive the news and our government's policies considering Russia has been completely changed. Our peer's feelings, opinions, and insights will continue to affect how I think about our country's relationships with other nations moving onward.” Julia Kerr ’18 added “I learned a substantial amount about our similarities, but also our differences, and ways in which we could bridge those differences through open and honest dialogue. It was such a rewarding experience to have conversations about what we think our respective countries can improve, and I believe that if our governments could have similar talks to the ones we had, there would be greater respect and understanding between the US and Russia.”

The conference was part of the SALTT program’s yearlong study of US-Russian relations and the concepts of strategic thinking. The program has specifically focused on the benefits of cross-cultural dialogue within the United States and around the world. In the fall, three SALTT participants traveled to West Point, NY for the United States Military Academy’s Student Conference on US Affairs, which discussed Global Democracy and Democratization. In January, four current and former SALTT participants attended another conference at West Point on Honorable Leadership and Ethics. In March, SALTT program participants traveled to Baku, Azerbaijan, to study that country’s post-Soviet Union trajectory and challenges in the region. 

Click here to view additional photos from this visit.

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 03:18:52 EDT
Fielding Fellows Research in Berlin & Budapest http://eisenhowerinstitute.org/news/news_detail.dot?inode=65440b42-aeee-4e9c-8abd-82cfd14b97d6&pageTitle=Fielding+Fellows+Research+in+Berlin+%26+Budapest http://eisenhowerinstitute.org/news/news_detail.dot?inode=65440b42-aeee-4e9c-8abd-82cfd14b97d6&pageTitle=Fielding+Fellows+Research+in+Berlin+%26+Budapest During winter break in January 2017, the Fellows of the Fielding Center for Presidential Leadership embarked on a research trip to Europe for their Diplomacy Labs project. Over the summer, the Fielding Fellows competed for and won a grant from the State Department’s Diplomacy Lab initiative to study corruption in the Hungarian government. The goal of the project is to produce solutions to this problem in the hopes of helping the United States Embassy in Budapest curtail these corrupt practices in the future.

After carrying out preliminary research throughout the fall semester, the Fellows believed it would be incredibly beneficial to meet with experts familiar with corruption within Eastern Europe. The trip began with a stop in Berlin, Germany to visit the headquarters of Transparency International (TI). TI is a non-governmental organization (NGO) which aims to create a corruption free world, by giving a voice to the locals who encounter these practices the most. While at the headquarters, the Fellows heeded the advice of Cornelia Abel who is the Regional Coordinator for Southeast Europe, Turkey and Israel. According to fellow Rachel Haskins, “The meeting with Transparency International really put our research into a local context. It’s one thing to do the research, but to actually talk to individuals who have encountered corruption really allowed for a better understanding of how to craft solutions to the problem.” During the meeting, the Fellows were able to question Ms. Abel about the work done by TI within this region and analyze how it compared to the measures being taken in Hungary. While in Berlin, the Fellows also had the opportunity to learn about Germany’s history during the Cold War era. A trip to Checkpoint Charlie and the Berlin Wall served as reminders for how pervasive the Communist impact was on European politics as a whole.

After arriving in Budapest, the Fielding Fellows departed for the U.S. Embassy to present their findings to Foreign Service Officer Greg Meier. However, a trip to the embassy in Budapest would not be complete without first stopping to see the bronze statue of Mr. Fielding’s '61 former boss, President Ronald Reagan, in Freedom Square. While in the embassy, the Fellows had the opportunity to present their research to Mr. Meier and five of his colleagues and receive feedback in preparation for their spring presentation to the State Department in Washington D.C. The chance to present in Budapest was an invaluable experience as these officials were able to give first hand information regarding the climate of the corruption within Hungary. The Fellows also received a valuable talk on what it takes to become a member of the Foreign Service. Meetings such as these truly bring the Fielding Center and the greater Gettysburg experience full circle by allowing the Fellows to take their classroom knowledge and see how it can be transferred into a career.

Following the trip, the Fielding Fellows are continuing to perfect their research prior to presenting to the State Department at the end of the year.

Click here to view additional photos from their journey.

Article written by Taylor Beck ‘17, a political science major and a 2016-2017 Fielding Fellow.


Wed, 22 Mar 2017 11:26:55 EDT
EI Undergraduate Fellows Panel Probes Issues of Refugees, Terrorism, and National Security http://eisenhowerinstitute.org/news/news_detail.dot?inode=92142539-7855-4c2f-b8ec-1c2d35809db7&pageTitle=EI+Undergraduate+Fellows+Panel+Probes+Issues+of+Refugees%2C+Terrorism%2C+and+National+Security http://eisenhowerinstitute.org/news/news_detail.dot?inode=92142539-7855-4c2f-b8ec-1c2d35809db7&pageTitle=EI+Undergraduate+Fellows+Panel+Probes+Issues+of+Refugees%2C+Terrorism%2C+and+National+Security By Ben Pontz, Staff Writer, The Gettysburgian

Amid the ongoing controversy surrounding President Trump’s recent executive order temporarily halting the refugee program and limiting the number of refugees permitted to enter the United States each year to 50,000, the Eisenhower Institute’s first panel of 2017 was all the more timely as the Undergraduate Fellows hosted a panel discussion in a packed Joseph Theater that featured three speakers, whose expertise ranged from personally experiencing the vetting process for refugees, helping to settle incoming refugees, and studying national security policy with an emphasis on the Middle East.

The speakers were:

Amer Alfayadh, a case manager for the Church World Service in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, which BBC recently named “America’s refugee capital.” Though traditionally a conservative area politically, Alfayadh discussed the warm embrace refugees he works with receive in Lancaster as well as the experiences he has shepherding incoming refugees through the resettlement process.

Stacie Blake, the director of government and community relations for the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, a non-profit organization that protects the rights and addresses the needs of persons in forced or voluntary migration. She voiced her concerns regarding the administration’s approach to immigration and refugee policy as well as statistical and anecdotal information emphasizing the need, in her view, for a change in perspective on such issues. At one point, she shared that, already, the administration’s rhetoric and actions on refugees have hindered cultural exchanges with prominent judicial leaders from Muslim countries. Accordingly, she urged attendees to judge others based on personal interactions rather than preconceived stereotypes.

Dr. Chris Bolan, a professor of Middle East Security Studies at the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle. He provided commentary on the refugee situation from a national security perspective. He argued that the terrorist threat to Americans is statistically negligible as U.S. citizens are far more likely to be struck by lightning than to be killed in a terrorist attack. Moreover, he said there is little substantive basis for the exaggerated fear some have of the threat posed by refugees. In particular, he noted that not a single refugee admitted to the U.S. has been responsible for a major terrorist attack. Moreover, he observed that more Americans have been killed by radical right wing groups than by radical jihadi extremists. Finally, as the San Bernardino attacks demonstrated, the larger terrorist threat is posed by existing U.S. citizens becoming self-radicalized via the internet as opposed to the unlikely prospect that a terrorist would immigrate through the already rigorous refugee admittance process.

The discussion was moderated by four of the EI Undergraduate Fellows: seniors Anthony Citarella, Yanet Gonzalez, Piper O’Keefe, and Alyssa Waaramaa.

Students from various political science classes as well as from across the campus attended the event, and extra seats were moved into the sides of the packed Joseph Theater, indicative of a strong student interest in the program.

Brendan Salyards ’20, a political science major, reflected on the panel by concurring with the panelists.

“I’d say my main take away was that experts agree that refugees do not pose a threat to the security of the United States and that there doesn’t seem to be a rationale, based upon national security interests, for barring them from entering the country.”

Note: Although the panel was held off-the-record, The Gettysburgian contacted the panelists afterwards for their permission to summarize the substantive portions of their comments that would otherwise not be publicly available.

Click here to view additional photos from this panel discussion.

This article originally appeared in The Gettysburgian on February 12, 2017. Reprinted with permission; click to view the original article.

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 03:55:49 EDT
Meet Mariam Aghayan '17, Future Diplomat http://eisenhowerinstitute.org/news/news_detail.dot?inode=6669b12f-22c7-4b9d-a5b9-81304242b32e&pageTitle=Meet+Mariam+Aghayan+%2717%2C+Future+Diplomat http://eisenhowerinstitute.org/news/news_detail.dot?inode=6669b12f-22c7-4b9d-a5b9-81304242b32e&pageTitle=Meet+Mariam+Aghayan+%2717%2C+Future+Diplomat When Mariam Aghayan ’17 was 11-years-old, she moved to the United States from Armenia. For two years, she and her family lived in the house of a woman named Mary Smith, who Aghayan calls one of the three most significant women in her life.

The first is her mother. And the other is Political Science Prof. Shirley Anne Warshaw.

“I’ve been empowered by these three powerful women throughout my life,” said Aghayan, “and I know that whatever I want, if I work hard enough, if I’m driven enough, I can reach my goals.”

Aghayan’s goal is to become a diplomat, but it’s a means to an end—her passion is advocating for human rights. Coming to Gettysburg, Aghayan’s first step towards her goal was making Warshaw her mentor after taking her First-Year Seminar. She’s accomplished much since that first year, and it’s not hard to imagine the political science and public policy double major—now a senior—reaching any and all of her goals. At the age of 21, Aghayan has already spoken in front of the United Nations (UN) in support of human rights, completed multiple internships, studied abroad twice, and received multiple fellowships and grants to conduct research on human rights around the world.

An important connection for Aghayan is the work she’s done for her home country. As a first-year student, she was nominated by the Center for Public Service for—and received—a Project for Peace grant from the Davis Foundation to educate disabled, homeless, and children of war-torn families in Armenia, teaching them English, healthy living, computer literacy, and social skills.

In the diplomacy arena, she’s held several internships as part of the Permanent Mission of Armenia both to the United Nations Headquarters and the United Nations Offices in Geneva, as well as the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia to the Federal Republic of Germany.

“I learned what it takes to be a diplomat,” said Aghayan. “It’s not all glamorous parties. It’s 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. working hours, and if you leave at 10:00 p.m., you’re still working on the way home.”

As part of the learning experience, Aghayan had the opportunity to attend bilateral and multilateral meetings and observe the nuances in negotiation between countries, behind the scenes. It was such an impactful internship that when she returned to Gettysburg in the fall, Aghayan felt like she needed to pay the experience forward.

“I wanted to use my connections to get people more involved in the career of diplomacy,” she said.

With funding support from The Eisenhower Institute, student senate, and the Provost’s Office, Aghayan helped arrange a trip for her peers to the UN headquarters where she interned. The public tours were full, but the First Secretary of the Permanent Mission of Armenia offered their group a personal tour. The Ambassador of Armenia to the United Nations provided a private briefing that lasted two-and-a-half hours.

Continuing her involvement with The Eisenhower Institute, in the same semester, Aghayan helped kick off the inaugural class of Fielding Fellows with the launch of the new Fielding Center for Presidential Leadership Study—named after Fred Fielding ’61, who served as Deputy Counsel to President Richard Nixon and later as White House Counsel to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. The program is advised by several other experts, including Aghayan’s mentor, Warshaw, and is designed to provide students with opportunities to examine presidential leadership and shape their own paths as our nation’s future leaders, elected officials, and public servants.

“It’s so incredible to be mentored by Mr. Fred Fielding and Dr. Shirley Anne Warshaw,” she said. “These are two incredible people on different sides of the political spectrum. They get along so well, they are respectful—they teach us what political discourse should be.”

In the following semester, Aghayan studied abroad in Berlin, Germany, in a program focused on political science and international relations. Of course, refugee policy was already a major topic of discussion at the time, and a focus for the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel. Aghayan got to experience the discussions happening there first hand.

“My area of expertise is human rights, but I studied so many interesting things while I was in Germany,” said Aghayan. “The former director of Germany’s Doctors Without Borders taught a class called contemporary global health challenges. I took it and loved it. In Berlin, I studied everything from international finance to European immigration and energy diplomacy.”

While attending classes full time, she also interned at the Embassy of Armenia to Germany and was recommended to intern at the Permanent Mission of Armenia to the United Nations, where she had the opportunity to attend the World Health Assembly, the decision-making body for the World Health Organization.

“What was incredible about the experience is I wasn’t treated like an intern, I was treated like a colleague,” she said. “My superiors would come to me to ask me for advice. Sometimes I would be representing Armenia in meetings, which is an advantage of having a small delegation, since each individual has greater responsibility. It was surreal to deal with Ambassadors, Ministers, and representatives from different countries on a day-to-day basis.”

Aghayan also had the opportunity to attend the 32nd session of the Human Rights Council as part of her internship at the United Nations in Geneva through the Permanent Mission of Armenia. This past summer, Aghayan continued to address human rights concerns by giving a speech at the United Nations Headquarters as the Youth Ambassador from Armenia.

“Hate and discrimination have no place in our society,” she said in her speech.

“We must make an effort to understand problems from different viewpoints and cultures. We have a duty, as human beings, to respect one another and to make sure none of us are stripped of our human rights.”

As a senior, Aghayan is in the process of applying to graduate schools and plans to study international affairs.

“They would all be lucky to have her,” Warshaw said. “I first met Mariam when she was in my First-Year Seminar and from the moment that I met her I could tell that she was amazing. She was polished, smart, and understood complex concepts. Because of my admiration for her, I asked her to be my teaching assistant the next year and, happily for me, she continued to be over the next three years. Mariam thinks outside the box, always seeking to be the best that she can be and encouraging her friends to follow suit.”

Click Here to view the article on the Gettysburg College website.

Contact: Carina Sitkus, senior assistant director of communications, 717.337.6803

Posted: Tue, 31 Jan 2017

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 03:55:03 EDT
Eisenhower Institute Fellows Awarded Projects from the U.S. State Department http://eisenhowerinstitute.org/news/news_detail.dot?inode=b86115c6-7e40-49d3-acc0-442af5081405&pageTitle=Eisenhower+Institute+Fellows+Awarded+Projects+from+the+U.S.+State+Department http://eisenhowerinstitute.org/news/news_detail.dot?inode=b86115c6-7e40-49d3-acc0-442af5081405&pageTitle=Eisenhower+Institute+Fellows+Awarded+Projects+from+the+U.S.+State+Department Sitting at the head of a long (and full) boardroom table, Will Essigs ’17 and Mariam Aghayan ’17 present an update about the research they have been completing this year. Around that table are members of the advisory board for The Eisenhower Institute at Gettysburg College—including former ambassadors, state and federal officials, and judges—but both students exude an air of confidence and poise. Aghayan answers a question about what non-governmental organizations they had met with, and the former U.S. Ambassador to Estonia nods with recognition.

They seem well practiced at this kind of public speaking and show of leadership because, well, they are. Just the week before this presentation, they presented their research to officials at the U.S. Embassy in Hungary.

These presentations are part of two projects that were awarded by the United States State Department to Harold G. Evans Chair of Eisenhower Leadership Studies Shirley Anne Warshaw and students from two programs of the Eisenhower Institute at Gettysburg College—the Undergraduate Fellows and Fielding Fellows (of which Aghayan and Essigs are a part). Gettysburg is the only private, four-year liberal arts College to be named a partner institution of the Diplomacy Lab initiative, whose goal it is to broaden the Department’s research in response to global challenges.

The two projects are focused on: 1. Health care records management and migration in the Eastern Mediterranean; and 2. Foreign anti-corruption policy. After spending the year conducting research, attending meetings, and traveling to collect as much data and information as possible to inform their work, the Fellows will present their research and findings to the State Department this spring. In addition to the contributions the Fellows will make through their findings, they are also taking much away from the experience—how to conduct research and present recommendations that can produce tangible results.

“They have approached [the projects] with great professionalism, excitement, enthusiasm, and—more importantly—a great sense of collaborative research,” said Prof. Warshaw.

Health Records and Refugee Policy

Aligning with one of the Institute’s themes of study this year—refugee resettlement in the United States—the State Department tasked the Undergraduate Fellows with researching how governments in different countries approach the collection of health records from migrants and refugees, and specifically how these policies impact the current crisis in the Eastern Mediterranean region.

Throughout the year, the Undergraduate Fellows hosted a series of panel discussions about the refugee crisis on campus, bringing together experts from a variety of backgrounds, organizations, and perspectives. They also met with federal, state, and private officials, hosting meetings in cities from Washington D.C. and New York City (at the United Nations Headquarters) to Lancaster, PA, where they spoke directly with Syrian refugees. To achieve a global perspective, they traveled to Dublin, Ireland, to attend workshops hosted by the Irish Refugee Council, and met with administrators and faculty at Trinity College, to learn how colleges have been approaching their research.

“My experiences this year have helped solidify my interest in policy work,” said Katerina Krohn ’17, a Political Science and Environmental Studies double major who worked on the project. “I hope that the results our project will be able to help guide the State Department as they make decisions regarding refugee health records.”

Foreign corruption

Fielding Fellows traveled to BerlinOver winter break, the Fielding Fellows traveled to Berlin, Germany, and Budapest, Hungary, to learn the challenges around corruption facing the European Union. In Berlin, they met with leaders from Transparency International, the leading non-governmental organization on worldwide corruption of public officials. After hearing from the former head of the organization for Hungary, the Fellows developed some new ideas for the presentation they had planned to share the next day with U.S. Embassy staff in Hungary.

“[After the meeting], they went back to their hotel in Berlin and stayed up until midnight refining and refocusing their presentation,” said Warshaw. “We hoped that would happen—that we would travel there and get a better sense of how to approach the research.”

"We are extremely impressed with the Gettysburg College Diplomacy Lab team," said Greg Meier, Foreign Service Officer at the State Department. "During their January visit to Embassy Budapest, they presented a well-researched thesis on the causes and potential solutions of the entrenched problem of corruption. We struggle with these questions every day. By identifying successful initiatives undertaken in other countries, the team gave us useful ideas that we plan to pursue in our programming.”

Will Essigs ’17, who previously conducted research on corruption through opportunities abroad, helped lead the project. “I took an unofficial leadership role on the project after studying a similar topic through an International Bridge Course grant,” he said. “I quickly learned that the most important function for an individual in this role is to empower the people around them and help provide tools for success. At our meeting in January, it was exciting to see the Embassy’s satisfaction with our work, but it most rewarding to see how invested our team had become in the project.”

The Fellows are still polishing their takeaways—so stay tuned for the findings—but Warshaw said their work provides a fresh perspective on the two projects.

“They do a tremendous amount of literature research and talk with experts—which brings the issues to life,” she said.

“This program is a wonderful opportunity to engage college students and to give them a window into the work of the State Department,” said Emily Royse Green, Foreign Service Officer, who has been speaking, Skyping, and working with the Fellows throughout the course of the project.

 “The students participating in the Diplomacy Lab were given a real world research question to explore. We have had several videoconferences with the students about their research throughout the course of the project, and we look forward to reading the final project when they submit it.”


Click Here to view the original article on the Gettysburg College website.

Contact: Carina Sitkus, senior assistant director of communications, 717.337.6803

Posted: Thu, 16 Feb 2017

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 03:54:32 EDT
2017 Jennings Randolph International Fellows announced by EI and the APWA http://eisenhowerinstitute.org/news/news_detail.dot?inode=0052a156-1e34-4f0b-be4d-54c58fe54438&pageTitle=2017+Jennings+Randolph+International+Fellows+announced+by+EI+and+the+APWA http://eisenhowerinstitute.org/news/news_detail.dot?inode=0052a156-1e34-4f0b-be4d-54c58fe54438&pageTitle=2017+Jennings+Randolph+International+Fellows+announced+by+EI+and+the+APWA FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

APWA Media Relations/Communications Manager
P: 202.218.6736
E: lbynum@apwa.net

American Public Works Association Announces 2017 Jennings Randolph International Fellows

KANSAS CITY, MO. – February 8, 2017 – The American Public Works Association (APWA), in association with the Eisenhower Institute at Gettysburg College (EI), announces today the selection of the 2017 Jennings Randolph International Fellows. Administered through the APWA International Affairs Committee, the Jennings Randolph International Fellows are accomplished public works professionals who study public works topics and projects internationally in association with APWA’s international partner organizations.

The Jennings Randolph International Fellowship Program, which was established in 1987, is a unique international study and professional exchange opportunity that promotes collaboration and sharing of public works best practices, knowledge, and innovation.

The three 2017 APWA Jennings Randolph International Fellows will conduct public works study tours and provide presentations at international partner associations’ annual membership meetings in Perth, Australia in August, 2017 and in Gothenburg, Sweden in September, 2017.

The APWA 2017 Jennings Randolph International Fellows include:

Evan N. Pratt, P.E., Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner, Director of Public Works, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Mr. Pratt will conduct his public works study tour with travel through Australia, and will focus on trading asset management knowledge during his travels and at the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia (IPWEA) conference to be held in Perth, Australia. He will specifically study sustainable infrastructure funding by gathering information about how they have achieved this through national policies, legislation and standards. He plans to share the legislative mechanisms, administrative structure and government’s role in technical support to link funding with asset management. He will also research specific public works agency examples focusing on two technical areas, case studies on maintenance optimization and specifics about asset management methods for underground utilities, which differ from methods for roads. Pratt plans to present his legislative story while attending the IPWEA conference, in addition, he will also share what his home state has done legislatively and on the ground.

Joanne Zhang, P.E., CCM, Council Liaison, Executive Division, Bureau of Engineering, City of Los Angeles, California

Ms. Zhang has been selected to travel throughout Australia to study the ways that the country is fostering a culture of innovation in public works along with its effect on attracting and retaining talent and capital project delivery. Through her travel experience and research, she plans to gain insight on how Australia has implemented successful initiatives to foster a culture of innovation with limited resources to learn an effective innovation strategy for APWA members. Zhang will meet with officials from the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia (IPWEA) to determine engineering resources, policies, standards and contacts. In addition, Zhang also plans to interview local staff with range of experience and attend a Switch Your Thinking event, which is a local government initiative to promote sustainable action in Perth. She will also tour project sites, different modes of transportation and public spaces while in Australia. Zhang’s presentation at the IPWEA conference will focus on the Millenial Perspective and the study results will be used in areas of recruitment, succession planning, gender equity and project delivery.

Aaron Putnam, Public Works Administrator, City of Ankeny, Iowa

Mr. Putnam has been selected to travel through Sweden to conduct a study tour to compare winter maintenance practices between Ankeny and three cities in Southern Sweden. His study will look at the entire winter maintenance realm from city planning to material and equipment usage, goals and priorities, staff scheduling and public relations.

Putnam will study three communities in Sweden, including Orebro, Gothenburg, and Stockholm. He will be exchanging information to improve relations, share perspectives, and advance winter service currently provided in our cities. He will also meet with public works peers in Sweden in their work environment to discuss successes and challenges, seeing tools and equipment and being immersed in their environment. He will make a presentation while attending the SKT Annual Congress in Gothenburg, Sweden in September that will include information about the City of Ankeny’s weather, equipment, pre-season preparation, pre-snow event activities, snow event operations and post snow event wrap up.

For more information about the APWA Jennings Randolph International Fellowship Program, contact the APWA International and Outreach Manager Lillie Plowman at lplowman@apwa.net. For APWA media queries on the Jennings Randolph International Fellowship Program, contact Laura Bynum, M.A., APWA Media Relations and Communications Manager at lbynum@apwa.net.

About APWA

The American Public Works Association (www.apwa.net) is a not-for-profit, international organization of more than 29,000 members involved in the field of public works. APWA serves its members by promoting professional excellence and public awareness through education, advocacy and the exchange of knowledge. APWA is headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, has an office in Washington, D.C. and 63 chapters in North America.


Tue, 21 Mar 2017 03:53:31 EDT
Joseph Recupero ’17 shares reflections on studying in Mongolia http://eisenhowerinstitute.org/news/news_detail.dot?inode=2e585341-22ae-4145-bed3-d42258f29cb1&pageTitle=Joseph+Recupero+%E2%80%9917+shares+reflections+on+studying+in+Mongolia http://eisenhowerinstitute.org/news/news_detail.dot?inode=2e585341-22ae-4145-bed3-d42258f29cb1&pageTitle=Joseph+Recupero+%E2%80%9917+shares+reflections+on+studying+in+Mongolia (Note: Joseph Recupero '17 is a current participant in the Institute's 2016-2017 Strategy and Leadership in Transformational Times program.)

“To get there, it took me a 10 hour drive one day, a 15 hour drive the next day, and then two days on a horse on a wooden saddle in -35° weather,” recalled Joseph Recupero ’17. He was on his way to interview Tsaatan reindeer herders for his independent research through the School for International Training program in Mongolia, where he studied abroad.

“The last month of the program, you complete independent research,” said Recupero, a Political Science and Anthropology major and Africana Studies minor. “My project was on culture commodification in the Mongolian tourism industry and the motivating factors behind why tourism is moving into the area.”

There are two regions where the Tsaatan herders have lived and worked for thousands of years: the East Taiga and West Taiga in northern Mongolia. While completing his background research, Recupero discovered that a movie released in the 1980s had impacted the traditions of reindeer herders who lived in the East Taiga. They changed their antler carving traditions to match the movie’s so they could appeal to tourists. Recupero decided to interview reindeer herders in West Taiga to see if this was also true of that region—thus the long journey by horseback.

Recupero studied abroad in Costa Rica previously and enjoyed the process of conducting research internationally. Originally, he hadn't considered traveling to Mongolia, but learned from the Center for Global Education that the program focused on nomadism, geopolitics, and the environment—areas in which Recupero was interested. It ended up being a good fit. Mongolia would provide Recupero with additional opportunities to hone the skills he knew he would need to pursue his Ph.D.

In addition to interviewing the Tsaatan reindeer herders, Recupero conducted ethnographic research with the Kazakh eagle-hunters in Western Mongolia and conducted interviews in Ulaanbaatar with tourism officials.

In his voice: field notes

During his time in Mongolia, Recupero kept field notes of his experiences and personal reflections. Below are a few snippets from his research journal.

  • “When you are standing on top of the world, you realize you are quite small and it is quite large and you are a part of something so much grander than yourself." -Standing atop mountains in Bayan Olgii, western Mongolia and thinking about my place in the world
  • "I'm slowly learning that anthropology is not about speaking for people, it is about allowing them to speak through you." -Reflection on interviews with Tsaatan reindeer herders
  • "I have no idea what is going to come of this research, but I know one thing, it was one hell of a ride." -Finishing my paper and reflecting on the research experience
  • "You may be sitting around waiting for the world, but it surely isn't waiting around for you. Better get out there and take in everything it has to show you." -Giving myself a little motivation about traveling on my own across Russia

“The program helped me to plan everything, but I created my research design, worked on finding contacts, and scheduled my interviews and everything by myself,” he said. “That helped prepare me for doing capstone work this year and then dissertation work down the road.”

Recupero became interested in anthropology while he was still in high school, after a family friend suggested he research the field. It wasn’t until Gettysburg, however, that he would learn he had a knack for teaching and a desire to pursue a Ph.D.

“While graduate school has been in the back of my mind at Gettysburg, I think it was only after being able to do hands-on research, give presentations, and get my work published that I knew research and academia was the road I wanted to go down,” Recupero said.

“And it’s been nice being able to do research here, because I can also incorporate my political science background and my Africana studies minor into my work. In some anthropological research, you work in isolation and with just one group of people. I am very interested in that, but I’m also very interested in studying how larger trends affect multiple groups of people throughout a country or a region and I can pool all of my majors together to do that. Anthropology as a field is also moving in that direction, so I’ll be prepared for graduate school.”

During his time at Gettysburg, Recupero has published several papers, including the research he conducted in Mongolia. (If you’re curious, he learned the reindeer herders in the West Taiga were not impacted by the movie and tourists like the herders in the East Taiga.) He also had the opportunity to present his overall findings to an audience of professors and administrators in the Ministry of Tourism.

In his last year at Gettysburg, Recupero hopes to learn more about the field of political anthropology—how political decisions and policies are made and how they affect people at the local level. Then, it’s off to graduate school.

“I think there’s so much in the world to see and explore and learn about, and my majors and experiences allow me to do that,” said Recupero. “That’s also why I want to go into academia and teaching, because it’s one thing to have experiences—it’s another to share them and be able to educate people through them. It takes the work a step beyond.”

More about Recupero

  • He’s the diversity chair of the Sigma Chi-Gettysburg chapter.
  • You can spot Recupero giving tours on campus as an admissions tour guide.
  • He was a triple jumper and long jumper in Track and Field before suffering an injury.
  • He is a member of Friend or FOE, and helped organize a vigil remembering the victims of the Orlando shooting this past June.

Click here to view the original article on the Gettysburg College website.

Contact: Carina Sitkus, senior assistant director of communications, 717.337.6803

Posted: Wed, 4 Jan 2017



Wed, 04 Jan 2017 04:31:49 EST
Passion to act: Micaela Edelson ’17 gives voice to environmental issues http://eisenhowerinstitute.org/news/news_detail.dot?inode=ca9c3c05-c86a-4058-b139-aed7abd9e5f6&pageTitle=Passion+to+act%3A+Micaela+Edelson+%E2%80%9917+gives+voice+to+environmental+issues http://eisenhowerinstitute.org/news/news_detail.dot?inode=ca9c3c05-c86a-4058-b139-aed7abd9e5f6&pageTitle=Passion+to+act%3A+Micaela+Edelson+%E2%80%9917+gives+voice+to+environmental+issues (Note: Micaela Edelson '17 is an alumna of Inside Politics, Environmental Leadership, and Inside the Middle East.)

A week before the U.S. Army Corps denied an easement for the Dakota Access oil pipeline in southern North Dakota, Micaela Edelson ’17 used the issue as an example of why she wants to enter a career in environmental justice. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe argued that the oil pipeline would dishonor its spiritual land and contaminate its water source, and after months of protests, the pipeline will now be rerouted.

“Political capacity is important—without people advocating on behalf of an issue, it simply isn’t heard,” Edelson said.  The Dakota Access oil pipeline is, on the other hand, an example of how a group of people who are passionate about an issue—and speak up—can change the course of events.

Edelson plans to devote her career to advocating for environmental justice for those who cannot or may not have the capacity to speak up. As an environmental studies  and public policy double major, with minors in political science and peace and justice studies, she has spent her time at Gettysburg learning more about environmental issues and completing internships that have allowed her to pursue policy research. In her junior year, she was awarded a prestigious $50,000 Greater Research Opportunities (GRO) Fellowship from The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to conduct research on the potential risks faced by agricultural migrant workers exposed to pesticides—a project she is completing this year as her senior honors thesis project.   

“I’ve been interested in social justice and environmental studies for a while,” said Edelson, “so [environmental justice] is a connection that just makes sense.” 

According to Farmworker Justice, a nonprofit organization that seeks to improve working conditions for migrant and seasonal farmworkers, the risk of pesticide exposure can be at levels that are hundreds of times greater for farmworkers than consumers, yet sometimes adequate protection isn’t provided.  Edelson said it’s difficult to measure exposure level directly, so she’s focusing on how a sample size of workers in Pennsylvania’s Adams County perceives the impact of pesticides on health. 

“Ideally, I want to compare their perception of risk, and actual risk,” said Edelson.

By the end of the project, Edelson will summarize her findings and provide recommendations to policy-makers about how to enforce safer work environments. With guidance from her internship supervisor and honors thesis supervisor, environmental studies Prof. Salma Monani, and based off of previous perception studies, Edelson designed a survey. In September and October, she spent four hours every day, three to four times a week, interviewing migrant farm workers, using a connection she made through the Center for Public Service (CPS) with the Lincoln Intermediate Unit No. 12 Migrant Education Programs. So far, the responses do not indicate that the workers feel unsafe. Edelson plans to interview farm owners in January.

“Micaela is a very motivated student.  I’m so impressed by the way she took initiative to apply for the EPA-GRO grant,” said Monani. "Her research is important as it provides the first such study on pesticide risk for migrant farmworkers in Adams County.  We hope to be able to publish her research findings in a peer reviewed journal and share it with the local community.”

As another component of the fellowship, Edelson, who is originally from Oregon, completed a summer internship in Seattle, Washington, at the EPA. There, she was responsible for identifying communities where environmental health risks were disproportionally impacting low-income and minority communities. She provided recommendations to the EPA for local community and environmental organizations they could reach out to, about potential grant opportunities.

Why environmental justice?

Edelson first became interested in environmental justice after taking an environmental humanities course as a sophomore.  She learned about a chemical company that had buried waste under an elementary school and was making children sick. The town advocated to rectify the situation; other case studies involving minority communities were not as effective in their advocacy. Edelson was struck by the disparity.

“Policy making should actively seek out marginalized voices,” said Edelson. “If someone is working two or three jobs, they can’t step out of their job to attend a public meeting. Or have time to protest. Your health is the one thing that you have, but you may not have control over it if you were born into a certain social status.”

Complementing her interest in environmental justice, Edelson has also used her Gettysburg connections to get involved in advocacy in other areas—a recurring theme is food.

“My sophomore year, I led a CPS immersion project to Philadelphia that focused on urban food justice and Judaism. While we were there we were introduced to an organization called Challah for Hunger, which addresses food access issues by selling Challah.” Edelson, who is the current president of Hillel, brought the idea back to campus. She helped establish a partnership with South Central Community Action Programs (SCCAP), which has a program for teaching adults employable skills. Students make the dough; clients at SCCAP bake the bread.

“In the first three semesters, the program raised $3,900,” said Edelson. “We donate the proceeds to Campus Kitchen, and the other half to an international organization that addresses food insecurity for people of all faiths.”

After graduation from Gettysburg, Edelson envisions working at a nonprofit related to advocacy work or environmental justice, using her broad experiences to make connections.

“Each experience provides its own set of knowledge,” said Edelson. “I appreciate the diversity of knowledge and experiences—I think that will help me have a more comprehensive outlook on everything.”

Click here to view the original article on the Gettysburg College website.

Contact: Carina Sitkus, senior assistant director of communications, 717.337.6803

Photos on campus by Miranda Harple

Posted: Tue, 13 Dec 2016


Wed, 04 Jan 2017 04:31:24 EST
What Nikita La Cruz ’13 learned at Gettysburg—and how it could impact Guyana http://eisenhowerinstitute.org/news/news_detail.dot?inode=c8933458-1620-4947-83ed-0c2d4159d92a&pageTitle=What+Nikita+La+Cruz+%E2%80%9913+learned+at+Gettysburg%E2%80%94and+how+it+could+impact+Guyana http://eisenhowerinstitute.org/news/news_detail.dot?inode=c8933458-1620-4947-83ed-0c2d4159d92a&pageTitle=What+Nikita+La+Cruz+%E2%80%9913+learned+at+Gettysburg%E2%80%94and+how+it+could+impact+Guyana (Note: Nikita La Cruz '13 is an alumna of the Institute's Environmental Leadership program)

Guyana is the third-smallest independent state on the mainland of South America. About 83 percent of the country is covered by tropical rain forests, and there is an abundance of gold, minerals and precious stones—but many of those resources potentially remain untapped.

This is one of the reasons why Nikita La Cruz ’13, who is originally from Guyana, is pursuing a career as an economic geologist/geochemist. The job of an economic geologist is to identify earth materials that can be used for economic purposes.

“Guyana is a country where access to the basic things people need, like education and healthcare, is limited—I think that using our mineral resources and discovering new ones can help [provide the economic support needed],” said La Cruz.

The Chemistry and Environmental Studies double major was attracted to Gettysburg by the offer of a scholarship and the opportunity to study at a competitive liberal arts college in the United States. Post-Gettysburg, she continued her studies, receiving her master’s at the University of South Florida, and is currently a second year student in the economic geology Ph.D. program at the University of Michigan. Only three years after graduating from Gettysburg, her research was cited in NASA’s Astrobiology Magazine. Once she’s earned her Ph.D., La Cruz plans to return home to Guyana to fill what she says is a tremendous need for geochemists who have the skills to assist in cataloging the country’s existing mineral deposits and discovering new ones.

“Right now our mining industry focusses on gold, bauxite and diamonds, but I think there are opportunities to explore for and discover other types of deposits,” said La Cruz. “The only geological reports we get are from mining companies that go into Guyana looking for specific minerals. Using geochemistry and geophysics, we should hopefully be able to get a better idea of whether or not there are other minerals that are present below the dense jungle cover.”

Geochemistry encompasses the study of Earth’s composition, and the geochemist’s job is to use his or her knowledge of Earth’s structure and geological processes to make informed research decisions that may have practical industrial applications. La Cruz’s area of focus is the formation of ore deposits. She seeks to understand the processes that cause economically and industrially important elements, like gold, iron, copper and the rare earths, to be concentrated into very small regions of the earth’s crust.  

“If we understand ore deposits well, we know what to look for when we go out in the field, and this can be used to give people an idea of what to expect when they go to places where it’s likely that these processes could have occurred,” said La Cruz. So instead of cutting down forests to look for gold or other minerals, miners—with the help of the economic geologists—can be more intentional about where they mine, using these clues to make smart decisions about where profitable resources are likely to be found. The goal is to preserve biodiversity while still exploring for minerals.

A hat tip from NASA

La Cruz became interested in the synthesis of minerals while taking Prof. Joseph Grzybowski’s inorganic chemistry class during her senior year at Gettysburg and chose the University of South Florida master’s program for the opportunity to do that work. There, she conducted research funded by the Center for Chemical Evolution and NASA to investigate the chemical evolution of life on Earth.

“The thought is that there had to be chemical evolution before biological evolution,” said La Cruz.

La Cruz and fellow researchers set out to discover the origin of phosphorus, a chemical element that is important for many reasons, including serving as the backbone of the nucleotides that make up RNA and DNA and the building block for the structure of cell membranes.

Scientists believe that meteorites are a plausible source of phosphorus since they contain a phosphorus-bearing mineral called schreibersite. So, as part of their project, La Cruz and a colleague showed how a synthesized form of schreibersite—which mimics the iron nickel phosphide mineral found in iron meteorites—reacts when exposed to water. As the water evaporates, phosphorus-oxygen bonds form on the surface of the schreibersite. The finding is significant because it supports the hypothesis that meteorites could be responsible for bringing phosphorus to Earth.

“When I was getting involved in the project, I had no idea how many people were interested [in the research project],” said La Cruz. Her master’s advisor encouraged her to write a paper about her findings. That published paper is what would later get picked up by Astrobiology Magazine and earn her a prestigious thesis award from the University of South Florida.  

“My parents taught me to do my best without thinking about whether I would be rewarded for my actions,” said La Cruz. “I never set out to do something to be recognized. I just always work hard and do what needs to be done,  but it was nice to be recognized for my hard work.”

A love of rocks

La Cruz attributes what she calls her “love of rocks” to taking Environmental Studies Prof. Sarah Principato’s earth systems science class as an undergraduate. Her senior capstone project combined her environmental studies and chemistry coursework, focusing on measuring the amount of lead in soil, which she then mapped using Geographic Information Systems—a skill that is useful to her work as an economic geologist.

“That was my first research experience and good preparation,” said La Cruz. “Coming from a small country, the education I received at Gettysburg was world class. The combination of theoretical and hands on learning prepared me very well for moving into geology, conducting independent research, and developing the skills I needed to perform well in graduate school. I am very grateful for the funding Gettysburg provided, my professors, my family and friends and everyone who helped me along the way.”

Click here to view the original article on the Gettysburg College website. 

Contact: Carina Sitkus, senior assistant director of communications, 717.337.6803

Posted: Fri, 9 Dec 2016


Wed, 04 Jan 2017 04:32:44 EST
Students learn value of internship abroad through Shanghai program http://eisenhowerinstitute.org/news/news_detail.dot?inode=53699b49-34cf-46d2-9f8b-41d55fe1ee66&pageTitle=Students+learn+value+of+internship+abroad+through+Shanghai+program http://eisenhowerinstitute.org/news/news_detail.dot?inode=53699b49-34cf-46d2-9f8b-41d55fe1ee66&pageTitle=Students+learn+value+of+internship+abroad+through+Shanghai+program (Note: Phoebe Do '17 is an alumna of the Institute's Women in Leadership program.)

Standing in the middle of Shanghai’s energetic and buzzing financial district, the connection to business is a natural one to make. To succeed in the increasingly interconnected global business world requires an understanding of different cultures and languages as well as experiences that mirror the real world.

Gettysburg College is preparing students to navigate the global marketplace by providing valuable connections to internships, opportunities to study globally, and ultimately—through support of Gettysburg Great: The Campaign for Our College—the transformation of Plank Gym into a state-of-the-art global center.

One of the College’s Affiliated Global Study programs, CET Shanghai, allows students to combine coursework in Chinese language and electives focusing on East Asia. This is one of the many programs available to students at Gettysburg College, which is currently second in the nation for its mid-length study abroad experiences, according to the 2016 Open Doors Report on International Education Exchange released by The Institute of International Education (IIE)

“The amazing thing about the internships with this program is that the internship supervisors are all incredibly accomplished business people and really take an interest in developing the students’ skills,” said Dan Albertson, Associate Director of the Center for Global Education.

The program also offers connections to a variety of fields, including media, STEM, history, law, education, sports, philanthropy, and music.

Read more about the experiences of three students: Phoebe Do ’17, Shahn Savino ’18 and James Arps ’18.

Phobe Do '17Phoebe Do

Globalization Studies and Mathematical Economics double major

Do, who will graduate this May, recently signed a contract with Deloitte in New York to become a consultant. While she was abroad in Shanghai, she interned at Morgan Stanley in the Information Technology Department where she was given a project that involved extensive coding. She had no prior computer science experience, so she learned this skill in a completely new work culture with the guidance of a mentor.

“I always cite this internship as the proof that with my liberal arts education, I will be able to tackle any challenge at hand and work with anyone, regardless of the background,” said Do. “My experience in Shanghai was a period of time when I challenged all the things that I have learned to be norms, met the people that were totally different from me, and undertook adventure that I was not aware of.”

Do is currently studying in Egypt, but her goal is to return to Shanghai eventually due to her career, linguistic strength, and connections to China.

Shahn Savino ’18

International Affairs and East Asian Studies (Chinese track) double major

Savino was abroad in Shanghai with CET currently, and he completed an internship at Allison+Partners, a strategic public relations firm in the Changning District of Shanghai. His responsibilities included the translation of documents and writing of creative content while using his interest in Asian culture and Chinese language that he developed in high school.

“My last translation was on lung cancer and minimally invasive procedures,” said Savino. “The translations are the most fun and valuable thing that I do because they require me to not only learn new vocabulary, but it also really requires me to learn the nuances of both the Chinese and English languages.”

There is nothing more interesting to Savino than international political economy and learning about the political and economic reasons behind the interactions between countries.

“Being exposed to so many different viewpoints, ideologies, and lifestyles really forces me to think about simple things that I often overlook,” said Savino. “This has truly been a transformational experience.”

James Arps ’18

Computer Science and Mathematics double major

Arps was abroad in Shanghai with CET currently, and he interned at ViewFin Digital Assets, a blockchain technology firm specializing in digital asset solutions. High school and college level Chinese courses spurred Arps’s interest to pursue a semester in Shanghai, and he has progressed in his knowledge of mathematics and computer science through his internship abroad. ViewFin is a part of a technology industry that focuses on new financial technology along with in-depth encryption techniques and applications.

“It's easy to look at the abstract of a paper and just gloss over the results, but the experiences I gained in my Gettysburg courses are what motivates me to get out a pen and paper and spend an hour or two getting to the heart of what those results actually mean,” said Arps.

Click here to view the original article on the Gettysburg College website.

Article by Andy Milone ’18, communications and marketing intern

Photo of Phoebe Do by David Zabriskie

Contact: Carina Sitkus, senior assistant director of communications, 717.337.6803

Posted: Tue, 27 Dec 2016


Wed, 04 Jan 2017 04:32:17 EST
Student Spotlight: Marley Dizney Swanson '18 http://eisenhowerinstitute.org/news/news_detail.dot?inode=a135bbdd-0f2d-4f37-a483-686bce892fa2&pageTitle=Student+Spotlight%3A+Marley+Dizney+Swanson+%2718 http://eisenhowerinstitute.org/news/news_detail.dot?inode=a135bbdd-0f2d-4f37-a483-686bce892fa2&pageTitle=Student+Spotlight%3A+Marley+Dizney+Swanson+%2718 Marley Dizney Swanson ’18 studies immigration in Cuba and around the world

Growing up in Portland, Oregon, in a predominantly Hispanic community, Marley Dizney Swanson ’18 saw the effects of immigration policies firsthand. Her classmates’ experiences in elementary school sparked a lifelong focus to change immigration policy in the United States. And at Gettysburg, she has been able to pursue experiences that will help her accomplish that goal.

When it was time for the college search, Dizney Swanson knew she wanted to be close to Washington, D.C., major in Political Science, and have a liberal arts experience.

She was convinced that Gettysburg was the right place for her after meeting Eisenhower Institute Executive Director Jeffrey Blavatt. She participated in an overnight visit that solidified her decision—with student Maja Thomas ’17—who is one of her friends today.

Dizney Swanson, a Political Science and Public Policy major, has co-founded and served as president of the Model Arab League (MAL), earned a prestigious Critical Language Scholarship to spend a summer in Turkey immersing herself in the Turkish language and culture, led an immersion project through the Center of Public Service about immigration to the U.S.-Mexican border, and participated in the Eisenhower Institute’s Inside Politics program with Kasey Pipes. She’s also been an active member in Model United Nations (MUN). 

In the spring of 2016, she studied abroad in Cuba through the IFSA-Butler program, where she enrolled in classes at the University of Havana. All of her classes were taught in Spanish.

“Being a political science major and with the normalization process going on right now, there’s not a more exciting place in the world for me to be,” Dizney Swanson said. “I’ve never been to a country that the U.S. has so much negative history with, and it changed the way I think about immigration and politics.”

Dizney Swanson was able to see the real effects of the policies that have been enacted over the years and found many Cubans were eager to speak about politics with her. She was in Cuba when President Obama visited as well as when the Major Lazer and Rolling Stones concerts took place.

“President Obama’s visit only catalyzed more talk about political change in the country in terms of freedom of speech and leadership," she said. "Cubans are anxious to see what becomes of the Cuban government in 2018 when Raúl Castro has promised to step down.”

While in Cuba, Dizney Swanson had the opportunity to participate in an international branch of MUN. In HAVMUN, she served as a member of the Disarmament and International Security Council, with students from Mexico, Germany, and Cuba.

“The committee was just as competitive as the conferences I’ve attended in the North American circuit; they are incredibly knowledgeable in this field,” said Dizney Swanson. She will be participating in the London School of Economic’s MUN conference’s committee on the Cuban Revolution in the spring with Gettysburg’s MUN team.

Dizney Swanson took the opportunity to work on her thesis while in Cuba and earned an International Bridge Course scholarship to pursue the research.

“My thesis is about how the Castro brothers have and continue to use the legacy of Jose Martí (the leader of the revolution who is revered as a national hero), in order to further their own political agenda,” she said.

Through her research, Dizney Swanson analyzed speeches and learned more about the political system and revolution in her classes at the University of Havana.

Dizney Swanson will be participating in the Eisenhower Institute’s Inside the Middle East program in the spring. In the future, she plans to be active in immigration reform and work in immigration law.

Click here to view the original article on the Gettysburg College website.

Contact: Shawna Sherrell, associate director of creative services, 717.337.6812

Posted: Tue, 22 Nov 2016


Mon, 28 Nov 2016 11:51:54 EST
Post-Election Panel Provides Reflections & Challenges http://eisenhowerinstitute.org/news/news_detail.dot?inode=8295dc3c-770c-4d01-b7ed-544a03d466ac&pageTitle=Post-Election+Panel+Provides+Reflections+%26+Challenges http://eisenhowerinstitute.org/news/news_detail.dot?inode=8295dc3c-770c-4d01-b7ed-544a03d466ac&pageTitle=Post-Election+Panel+Provides+Reflections+%26+Challenges Post-election 2016, professors encourage campus community to get out of the bubble

“There is value in trying to reflect, and this is what Gettysburg College is about,” Prof. Michael Birkner '72 P'10 said to students, faculty, and administrators gathered in the College’s Joseph Theater during a panel hosted by the Eisenhower Institute on Thursday, November 17, as part of the EI Discussions series.

Associate Provost Robert Bohrer facilitated the conversation with Gettysburg College Profs. Michael Birkner, Chipo Dendere, Bruce Larson, Shirley Anne Warshaw, and Charles Weise. The aim of the 90-minute panel was to investigate the election outcome, foster positive discussion, and bring together members of the campus community after what many have viewed as a divisive political season.

The panelists largely agreed that the economy was a focal point in the election—and an issue on which political scientists and forecasters alike did not focus enough attention when making predictions.

“If there’s one [main result] that comes out of the election in economic terms, it’s a visceral awareness that there is real pain within the middle class,” offered Weise, an economics professor.

Warshaw, a political science professor, pointed out the ways in which President-elect Donald Trump was able to address this issue: “The bottom line is that the Republican candidate may have said some [contentious remarks], the Republican candidate may have done some [controversial actions], but the bottom line is that he won the economic argument.”

Another central feature of the discussion was partisanship. Political Science Prof. Larson highlighted the continued division of Congress and the ideological split over the past 40 years, to which substantial gridlock and unexecuted policy agendas can be attributed.

“We see polarized districts, polarized states, and what that does is completely polarizes the whole system,” Larson said.

“That’s a problem when you surround yourself with people who only think like you,” Africana Studies Prof. Dendere offered. “I think a lot of us are in a bubble we self-select.”

Offering hope for the future, Dendere said there are greater opportunities post-election for Americans to engage in conversation with one another. 

Birkner advised members of the audience to engage with differing political views and to read news far outside their ideology to cross-reference beliefs.

“This is the challenge. I don’t care how you access the information: get out of the bubble,” he said. “If your side has the facts wrong, Democrat or Republican, accept that they have the facts wrong. Go where the facts are. You will gravitate, not to perfect agreement, but to points of agreement.”

Click here to view additional photos from this panel discussion.

Click here to view the original article on the Gettysburg College website.

Article by Maja Thomas ’17, The Eisenhower Institute Campus Communications Team

Photos by Charlotte Scheper '17, communications & marketing photo intern

Contact: Carina Sitkus, senior assistant director of communications, 717.337.6803

Posted: Fri, 18 Nov 2016

Mon, 28 Nov 2016 11:45:52 EST
We Want You...Or Do We? A Panel on Refugees & Asylees http://eisenhowerinstitute.org/news/news_detail.dot?inode=9a25c229-9b6a-403b-a97a-4c5d4772a3e7&pageTitle=We+Want+You...Or+Do+We%3F+A+Panel+on+Refugees+%26+Asylees http://eisenhowerinstitute.org/news/news_detail.dot?inode=9a25c229-9b6a-403b-a97a-4c5d4772a3e7&pageTitle=We+Want+You...Or+Do+We%3F+A+Panel+on+Refugees+%26+Asylees Eisenhower Institute hosts panel on refugee policy

By Ben Pontz, Event Coverage Director, The Gettysburgian

The Eisenhower Institute hosted its second panel of the week on Thursday, November 3, in a forum produced by its Undergraduate Fellows on refugee policy around the world and specifically in the United States. Each year the Undergraduate Fellows, supervised by Professor Shirley Warshaw, study a different public policy issue; this year’s issue is refugees. Earlier in the fall, the fellows traveled to Dublin, Ireland, to study refugee policy there.

As for Thursday’s program, three panelists spoke “off the record” to ensure maximum candor throughout the discussion. The panelists were:

Jedidah Hussey, the Director of the Arlington Asylum Office, a program of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) through the Department of Homeland Security. Hussey spoke broadly about the various types of refugees and ways they enter the United States as well as the screening process.

James Simpson, an investigative journalist, author and former government official who currently writes for various conservative media outlets including Breitbart and The Washington Times and the author of a book entitled The Red-Green Axis: Refugees, Immigration, and the Agenda To Erase America. Simpson shared results of his research and conversations that he has had with local officials across the country in his advocacy for a moratorium on refugee placement in the United States.

Bill Frelick, the Director of Refugee Rights for Human Rights Watch, a non-governmental organization watchdog for instances of human rights violations around the world. Frelick shared insights from his experiences traveling the world to speak to refugees and hearing testimonies that are, in many cases, disturbing. He also sought to counter the notion that the refugee resettlement process is likely to harbor terrorists.

Moderated by Undergraduate Fellows Gregory Dachille ’17 and Lynn Hatcher ’17, the panel lasted 90 minutes; many audience questions went unanswered due to a lack of time. More than 100 students filled CUB 260 for the final fall panel of 2016 hosted by the Eisenhower Institute.

Click here to view additional photos from this panel discussion.

EI Undergraduate Fellows Refugee Policy Panel

This article originally appeared in The Gettysburgian on November 8, 2016. Reprinted with permission; click to view the original article.

Thu, 17 Nov 2016 04:22:51 EST
Fielding Fellows Discuss Swing Voters http://eisenhowerinstitute.org/news/news_detail.dot?inode=79c95507-9c51-4565-aba6-e2ccbd7df847&pageTitle=Fielding+Fellows+Discuss+Swing+Voters http://eisenhowerinstitute.org/news/news_detail.dot?inode=79c95507-9c51-4565-aba6-e2ccbd7df847&pageTitle=Fielding+Fellows+Discuss+Swing+Voters Eisenhower Institute holds Fielding Fellows panel

By Ben Pontz, Events Coverage Coordinator, The Gettysburgian

Joseph Theater could barely contain the excitement in the room. By the 7:30 p.m. start time, there were few open seats at the Eisenhower Institute’s first panel of the year, titled “Policy or Personality: The Key to Swing Voters,” which was held Tuesday, Oct. 4.  Featuring three panelists from the world of politics, an hour long panel discussion was followed by a half-hour question and answer session on issues pertaining to the upcoming election.

The panelists were: Alexis Simendinger, an experienced Washington journalist presently serving as the White House Correspondent for RealClearPolitics, who shared her experiences covering the past several presidential administrations and called this “an election unlike anything we’ve ever seen.”

John Baer, a political columnist for The Philadelphia Daily News who has won numerous statewide and national awards for political journalism. He provided insight on campaign strategy, the news cycle and political polarization.

Kat Atwater, a 2007 Gettysburg alumna who serves as the chief of staff of BlueLabs, a firm that focuses on polling, fundraising and communication. She discussed issues that drive voters to the polls, turnout and political advertisements.

The panel was conducted “off the record” to allow panelists to speak more freely about issues pertaining to the upcoming election and share uncensored opinions. Two Fielding Fellows, seniors Mariam Aghayan and Taylor Beck, moderated the discussion and the ensuing question and answer session. Topics of discussion included the enthusiasm gap between supporters of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the perception that Clinton’s election is inevitable and how that can hurt her and the potential for a close election decided by voter turnout. First-year Elay Echavarria said of the panel, “I definitely was introduced to some new ideas I wasn’t thinking about before, particularly when they were talking about whether this would be a high voter turnout or low voter turnout election.”

At about 8:50 the discussion was promptly adjourned to allow the political junkies in the room to go watch the vice presidential debate.

Click here to view additional photos from this panel discussion.

Fielding Fellows Oct. 4 2016 Panel

This article originally appeared in The Gettysburgian on October 8, 2016. Reprinted with permission; click to view the original article.

Thu, 17 Nov 2016 03:56:56 EST
Fielding Fellows Discuss Clinton & Trump Prior to Election http://eisenhowerinstitute.org/news/news_detail.dot?inode=c25e845d-2342-4479-8565-88d38289d38c&pageTitle=Fielding+Fellows+Discuss+Clinton+%26+Trump+Prior+to+Election http://eisenhowerinstitute.org/news/news_detail.dot?inode=c25e845d-2342-4479-8565-88d38289d38c&pageTitle=Fielding+Fellows+Discuss+Clinton+%26+Trump+Prior+to+Election Eisenhower Institute Fielding Fellows discuss what Trump, Clinton stand for

By Jeremy Porter, Contributing Writer, The Gettysburgian

On Tuesday, Nov. 1, the Eisenhower Institute’s fellows of the Fielding Center for Presidential Leadership Study hosted a discussion entitled “Trump vs. Clinton: What do they really stand for?” The discussion was moderated by Fielding Fellows Taylor Beck ’17 and Rachel Haskins ’17 and featured commentary about the presidential candidates from three expert panelists: Carl Cannon, David Shribman, and Christopher Weyant ’89. Cannon is the Executive Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of RealClearPolitics. He was a fellow at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics and has covered every presidential campaign since 1984. Shribman is currently the executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and has served as the national political correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, and studied at Dartmouth College and Cambridge University in England. Weyant is a cartoonist for The New Yorker whose works have been published in hundreds of magazines and newspapers worldwide. A Gettysburg graduate with degrees in political science and economics, Weyant is a published children’s book illustrator and a Harvard Nieman Fellow.

The discussion was divided into two sections, broken up by a brief intermission during which a sample of Weyant’s cartoons was displayed on the projection screen. The first section consisted of discussion questions generated by the Fielding fellows. When asked if they thought that Clinton and Trump were catering to party lines rather than adhering to their own beliefs, the panelists agreed that it is difficult to determine what party lines are because of demographic changes in voting records (i.e. blue collar workers voting more Republican). They also explained how some of the biggest issues of this election have been about proper courtesy, language and behavior rather than concrete issues or plans, leaving many voters in the dark about Clinton’s and Trump’s actual political beliefs. Not since the days of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, the panelists said, has there been such a large emphasis on moral issues in a national election. Therefore, it is a tricky question to answer even for political experts. One of the biggest questions of the night was whether widespread distrust of Clinton and Trump is justifiable or exaggerated by political rhetoric. The panelists admitted that the distrust is largely justifiable and that the candidates’ actions have rightfully raised concern amongst voters. Regarding Trump, they explained how he has, on multiple occasions, been caught contradicting himself (i.e. falsely claiming he met Vladimir Putin; his confusingly varied stances on abortion in the past). They also explained how his involvement with controversial business ventures such as Trump University has added to voter distrust. The panelists then discussed how Clinton has her fair share of controversy, from the e-mail scandal to the Goldman Sachs speech (and suspected ties to Wall Street) to Huma Abedin and the Clinton Foundation, all of which have led some voters to lose faith in her and question her progressivism.

During the second half of the discussion, the panelists answered a few questions from audience members. When asked what the candidates must do in order to ameliorate the current political turmoil brought on by the election, they said, in essence, that the candidates must stick to their fundamental ideas and not get bogged down by the kind of controversy and questionable activity that has plagued the campaign season. Naturally, no matter who wins, a large portion of Americans will not agree with these views. However, the panelists agreed that national stability after such a wild election is essential. One student asked whether the recent resurgence in the FBI investigation of Clinton’s emails will have a significant effect on the election next week. Another question raised towards the end of the discussion was about neither Trump nor Clinton, but instead referred to third party candidates such as Gary Johnson and Jill Stein. A student asked the panelists if a third party “protest vote” is a waste of time. All three agreed that third party support has tanked in the past month (despite the fact that these candidates are generally more likeable than Clinton and Trump), and that “protest nominees” only take away votes from the Democratic or Republican candidate with whom they align politically.

The panelists expressed sympathy for college students because the candidates who will have a significant effect on students’ futures have run campaigns mired in scandal and controversy. One thing the panelists know is that our nation must not be crippled by this election season. Americans, and specifically the generation of budding professionals soon to enter the workforce, must remain optimistic and continue to fight for what they believe in.

Following the conclusion of the discussion, the EI Fielding Fellows invited students to join them in the Junction at 8:00 p.m. on election night to watch live coverage of the results.

Click here to view additional photos from this panel discussion.

Fielding Fellows

This article originally appeared in The Gettysburgian on November 5, 2016. Reprinted with permission; click to view the original article.

Thu, 17 Nov 2016 04:09:34 EST
Student Spotlight: Maihan Wali '18 http://eisenhowerinstitute.org/news/news_detail.dot?inode=f39add7b-1a81-4358-9369-8c0b84af61c6&pageTitle=Student+Spotlight%3A+Maihan+Wali+%2718 http://eisenhowerinstitute.org/news/news_detail.dot?inode=f39add7b-1a81-4358-9369-8c0b84af61c6&pageTitle=Student+Spotlight%3A+Maihan+Wali+%2718 Maihan Wali ’18 asks “why not me?” and empowers women in Afghanistan

The year was 2002. It was the year following the fall of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Maihan Wali ’18 was eight years old. As she sat in the classroom surrounded by her classmates she realized something unnerving: her peers were having difficulty reading and writing, and in some cases, her classmates couldn’t write their names. Wali decided to act. She looked for empty classrooms and after school, established a peer-to-peer literacy program.

At ten, she had her next idea. After watching men playing sports on the news she turned to her sister and said “we should do that!”

Despite never playing a sport in her life, she spoke to her principal about starting an afterschool basketball program for girls.

But the principal warned her it wouldn’t be easy and the program was not without its challenges or risks. She was told it defied cultural and social norms in Afghanistan and that the Minister of Education, who oversees all schools in Afghanistan, would never allow the program in their school.

But Wali was persistent, and the principal allowed her and six of her friends to quietly start a program. They used a basketball that was donated by a local organization and played in the school’s outdoor court.

“It was challenging finding players. Families weren’t ready to let their daughters play sports,” said Wali. “People still had fear from extremists, such as the Taliban, and were afraid.”

By creating the program and actively promoting it in their school, they motivated many other students to join. Two years later, Wali’s program caught the attention of the Afghan Women’s Network, whose mission was to ensure men and women in Afghanistan live in a justice and discrimination free society.

“Through their connections, we were able to get approval through the Minister of Education for the sports program and we also created volleyball teams in Kabul schools,” said Wali. In 2008, she was nominated via a YouTube contest to attend the British Council’s Global Changemakers Conference in London.  

“The conference empowered me; I learned I was not alone and not the only one who faced challenges,” said Wali.

Afterwards, she was able to network with other global changemakers through Facebook and her sports program was officially established as a non-profit organization, Women Empowerment Through Sport (WETS). Wali had expanded the program to include basketball, volleyball, and soccer, with over 700 participants across Afghanistan.

“Playing basketball makes me happy,” said Wali. “It teaches women they are not alone.  As part of a team, you have the same goals. I have seen the positive changes in participants’ lives. I have personally witnessed their smiles and happiness daily.”

Her family supported her venture, but was concerned about her safety. As a founder of WETS, Wali spends time fundraising, building connections through networking, and being interviewed in the news. At one point, she had received threats to her personal safety.

“My mom would ask, ‘Why you? Why not someone else?’” said Wali. “Why not me?” she would ask her mom.  “If I give up, I don’t think anyone would dare to do it.”

Her persistence and motivation have presented global opportunities for Wali and the girls in the program. She’s traveled internationally to speak about WETS and has met organizations that have donated resources, such as uniforms, for all the girls. She was recently invited to represent WETS in the category of Peace and Human Rights at the 2016 Clinton Global Initiative University in April. This summer, WETS is working with orphanages in Afghanistan to empower them through sport.

At Gettysburg, Wali is a political science major and Middle East & Islamic Studies minor. She regularly plays intramural sports such as basketball and soccer. She also participated in the Eisenhower Institute's Inside the Middle East program.

Her advice to others wanting to create change?

“If you think something can happen in a better way, fight for it. Bring positive change, work hard for change. Don’t wait for someone else to do it.”

 Contact: Shawna Sherrell, associate director of creative services, 717.337.6812

Posted: Sun, 23 Oct 2016


Fri, 28 Oct 2016 03:28:10 EDT
Inside Politics Alumni Impact National Election http://eisenhowerinstitute.org/news/news_detail.dot?inode=0f4ea035-57a0-49f5-ab24-00aafb69b600&pageTitle=Inside+Politics+Alumni+Impact+National+Election http://eisenhowerinstitute.org/news/news_detail.dot?inode=0f4ea035-57a0-49f5-ab24-00aafb69b600&pageTitle=Inside+Politics+Alumni+Impact+National+Election Impacting national elections: Three alums work for the RNC (including two past Inside Politics participants!)

When envisioning a dream career, most college students have one thing in common: they want their work to matter.

They want to have an impact, speak up about causes that are important to them, and stand for something meaningful—no matter if it helps one person or one million.

So imagine being fresh out of College and having the ability to impact millions, if not billions, of people through a cause that is important to you.

For three Gettysburgians, that is exactly what they are doing. Harry Fones ’15, Liz Oberg ’15, and Mia Phillips ’16 are currently working for the Republican National Committee (RNC), creating media strategy and analyzing data for political races at the national level.

Working in the field

Both Oberg and Fones work in the same department as research analysts. It was Oberg who connected Fones with his position after bumping into him on the Metro.

“So much of D.C. is being in the right place at the right time,” Fones said.

No two days are the same, he explained, as breaking news and developing events can shift their priorities in an instant.

The excitement of working at the RNC during a presidential election year is contagious, too.

“The Convention in Cleveland was hands down the thing I enjoyed the most,” Oberg said. “Not only was it a remarkable experience to be part of, it was also a total blast.”

Phillips works as a data analyst, and while she loves her day to day routine, the aspect of her work that appeals to her the most is the organization she is a part of and the values it represents.

“Everyone at the RNC is working towards the same goal, and everyday, I am surrounded by passionate, intelligent, and very hard working people,” said Phillips, who works as a data analyst. “It’s such an awesome environment to work in, and it’s what really drew me to working for the RNC after my internship.”

Personalizing politics

While their studies varied, they all cite the political science department as being instrumental in expanding their civic activism.

 “I always had an interest in politics, and had volunteered on campaigns in high school, so I jumped at the opportunity to take Dr. Shirley Anne Warshaw’s American Government course my freshman year,” said Oberg.

“From there, I was hooked.”

The political science major and Spanish minor took every course she could, avidly supplementing her classroom learning with programming offered by the Eisenhower Institute.

“The caliber of the professors that students are fortunate enough to interact with on an “open door” daily basis is incredible,” Oberg said. “They are dedicated to connecting students with alumni who work in DC to be sure that they leave the College ready to understand their options after school.”

Phillips agrees, citing the commitment of her professors to her educational and professional success as nothing short of transformational. Her advisor, Prof. Bruce Larson, was particularly influential, helping her to pursue new opportunities and tackle new challenges.

“Dr. Larson really encouraged me to go after what I wanted,” the history and public policy double major and political science minor said. “I would talk to him about the opportunities I would find online or through the Gettysburg network, and he would share ideas for how we could turn that work into research for my classes. It really shaped how I ended up at the RNC.”

For Fones, his professors became his greatest mentors—not because they shared similar political beliefs, but because they disagreed—respectfully—more than they agreed. In fact, his greatest mentors at Gettysburg—Profs. Don Tannenbaum and Ken Mott, to name a few—all fell on different ends of the political spectrum. Some of his favorite moments were the debates they would get into.

“No one cared what I thought as long as I could explain why,” Fones said.

It’s that foundation that Fones has found the most useful when speaking with voters, political field organizers, and more. A history and political science double major, Fones is not only familiar with the issues, but he also knows their historical roots, can look at them from multiple perspectives, and can explain why they are important, too.

“Iron sharpens iron,” Fones explained. “I’ve been able to put the knowledge and the skills I’ve learned to practical use.”

Enhancing their experience

Of course, there is so much more to a Gettysburg education than what takes place in the classroom.

Both Phillips and Oberg participated in the Eisenhower Institute’s Inside Politics program with renowned political expert and Bush speechwriter Kasey Pipes. Oberg calls her involvement with the Institute the “best decision I’ve ever made.”

“For me, it was more than just panel discussions, experts in residence, fellowship opportunities and networking,” said Oberg, who later became one of the Undergraduate Fellows and headed up the Campus Communications team at the Institute. “Having the opportunity as an undergraduate to see projects through with a team of motivated peers under the leadership and guidance of the Institute’s Executive Director Jeffrey Blavatt ’88 makes it a treasure for students.”

The Institute’s unparalleled networking opportunities did more than just provide Phillips with an insider’s look at the complexities of policy making. It was also how she first learned of the internships that would propel her political career.

“I had connected with Matt Kirincic ’13 and Jim Fellinger ’14 at an event held by the Institute,” the Tri Sigma sister and active College Choir member explained. “After my first internship with the Republican Party of Pennsylvania during the midterm elections, I wanted to expand my experience working with campaigns. They were able to connect me with the program at the RNC.”

Phillips’s connections to the Republican party extended beyond her state- and national-level internships, though. She also served as the Gettysburg College Republicans secretary her junior year—an organization that Fones was deeply committed to during his collegiate years as well.

“College Republicans was one of the biggest things that I was involved in at Gettysburg. It really meant a lot to me,” the Lambda Chi Alpha brother said.

Through the College’s support of College Republicans, he was able to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC)—the “birthplace of modern conservatism” and one of Fones’s more formative experiences as a student.

“That’s where I really started to dip my toe into the political arena,” Fones said. “I got to meet all of the big names—Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, FOX News personalities and presidential candidates—and that’s when I really started to get involved.”

Just a few short years later, Fones is doing more than rubbing elbows with the “big names.” Instead, he is working on the strategy that advances their party.

“If you had told me when I first got to Gettysburg that I would end up working for the RNC, I never would have believed you,” Fones said. “Now, I get to do what I love. And that’s a really neat feeling—to be 23 and to be doing something I love.”

Click here to view the article on the Gettysburg College website.

Contact: Kasey Varner, assistant director of communications, 717.337.6806

Posted: Wed, 26 Oct 2016


Thu, 05 Jan 2017 10:52:43 EST
Student Spolight: Spencer King '19 http://eisenhowerinstitute.org/news/news_detail.dot?inode=40dbc5e3-bbb9-497c-a5c3-76ba89cc96cf&pageTitle=Student+Spolight%3A+Spencer+King+%2719 http://eisenhowerinstitute.org/news/news_detail.dot?inode=40dbc5e3-bbb9-497c-a5c3-76ba89cc96cf&pageTitle=Student+Spolight%3A+Spencer+King+%2719 “I remember after my first Arabic class at Gettysburg, I called my mom and dad and said, ‘this is what I want to do for the rest of my life—speak this language.’ ”

You could say the linguistic passion was instantaneous for Spencer King ’19. King is already fluent in English and Swahili. That makes Arabic his third language—and possibly the toughest to learn.

“The thing about Arabic is that it takes three times longer for an English speaker to learn than any other language,” King explained.

King’s appreciation of international culture and language stems from his upbringing. He was raised in Kijabe, Kenya, where he lived since he was eleven months old. In his college search, he was looking for a school in the United States where he would be able to thrive in small classes and establish strong relationships with professors and peers—so he chose Gettysburg. With varied coursework focused in Economics, International Affairs, and Islamic Studies, King has quickly become an inquisitive and inspired Gettysburgian.

International Background

“I grew up in Kenya speaking Swahili and English,” King said. “When I came to the US, I realized that I couldn’t speak Swahili anymore. I found that I’m not interested in German, French, or Spanish, but I value language because of communication—and I thought that Arabic looked fun.”

After his two subsequent semesters of Arabic at Gettysburg, King was hooked on the language and applied for the U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship (CLS).

“I applied for the CLS after only taking one year of Arabic, but they accepted me into the program,“ he said.

King was thrilled to have the opportunity to travel to Ibri, Oman, for an 8-week, full-immersion into Arab culture for the summer of 2016.

Traveling to the Arab World

Despite being a quick and eager learner, King explained that the initial communication barrier was hard to overcome.

“The first two weeks were tough. I sat in class and felt so lost because I didn't know the language as well as most of the other people in the program who had taken four or five years of Arabic.

“After about two weeks, I started getting in the mode and I could understand the dialect; everything got easier.”

Once King gained confidence though practicing his Arabic, he was better able to participate in the Arab culture in Oman while making important cross-cultural comparisons.

“The culture of Oman was especially interesting for me because I found it to be very similar to the culture in which I grew up, in Kenya,” King explained. “It makes sense because historically Oman actually ruled a portion of the Kenyan coast; during that time we actually adopted a lot of their culture, including a good portion of their language.”

Despite the linguistic similarities, King was unfamiliar with the dry heat and religious practices of the Arab culture.

“I was living on the edge of the largest sand desert in the world,” King said. “It would regularly hit 122 degrees! For cultural appropriateness, I had to cover my whole body most of the time,” he said. “I wore a dishdasha, an Arab garment similar to a robe, as so that I stayed covered and modest.”

With the religious focus, King experienced a strong sense of cultural affiliation in Ibri. Even as a non-fluent speaker of Arabic from a western society, King was treated as a member of the community.

“It was cool because as long as you somehow knew someone who was invited to a party or an event, you were invited,” King revealed. “I actually went to three weddings during my time in Ibri, and people who I didn't even know invited me to stay in their homes.”

Considering the Future

Even though he is only a sophomore, King has some ideas about how he will take his cultural and linguistic passions into his post-grad life.

“In the future, I would like to work in the Arab world or for the US Foreign Service,” he said. “I think it'd be fun to live like a nomad and travel around for the rest of my life, using my language skills and experiencing new things.”

First Swahili, now Arabic: Spencer King ’19 is passionate about language

Article by Megan Decker, communications and marketing intern

Contact: Carina Sitkus, senior assistant director of communications, 717.337.6803

Posted: Wed, 19 Oct 2016

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 03:33:27 EDT