REFLECTIONS FROM AN INTERNSHIP AT THE ASIA PACIFIC CENTER FOR SECURITY STUDIES
By Tristan Raub (UNG, ’16)
Editor’s note: Tristan Raub completed his B.A. degree in International Affairs with an Asian concentration at the end of the fall semester.
Aloha my UNG Ohana. I would have never thought my international internship would consist of Hawaiian beach volleyball with generals in the mornings and then interacting with high-ranking foreign diplomats in the afternoons, but this turned out to be an average day working at the Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies. Interning at the APCSS can be a competitive internship, but the process for applying is easy. After meeting with the Center for Global Engagement to sign up, candidates meet directly with the APCSS’s intern coordinator through a Skype-based interview. The APCSS is looking for enthusiastic interns who show the confidence needed to work with senior U. S. and foreign representatives, as well as interns who have general knowledge of international politics.
Working at the APCSS on a day-to-day basis is like being a teacher’s assistant, but, instead of students, the class is full of senior military and civilian officials from across the Asia Pacific. Rather than quietly help, an APCSS intern is expected to fully engage in discussion and prepare seminar workshops for the APCSS fellows. Interns work with the professors by previewing lectures and developing group discussion questions for after the lectures. This allows interns to grow very familiar with the material and to seek one-on-one assistance from professors as needed. While this continued education fits in very nicely with political-science majors seeking to develop their understanding of the Asia Pacific, the real learning happens during the discussions themselves.
In most APCSS courses, foreign diplomats, politicians, and military officers come from every region of the Asia Pacific to learn more about Asian politics. Discussing things like territorial disputes and geopolitics in class is one thing, but hearing the perspectives of men and women from Nepal, India, Vanuatu, China, Pakistan, Japan, and Thailand all at once amplifies the learning experience in a unique way. Getting people to feel comfortable with openly discussing heavy issues is something the APCSS excels in, and interns play an important role in generating this trusting environment. One of the tools used for getting strangers comfortable with each other is weekend events, like trips to the beaches or some of Oahu’s major tourist attractions. Interns help facilitate these out-of-class activities and socialize with the fellows to build the APCSS bond. Getting to know APCSS fellows professionally and socially is a transformational experience that every intern receives, and may be the best part of the internship.
If you want the experience of a high-level political internship with a dash of aloha, then APCSS is for you. Go to the Center for Global Engagement in Price Memorial Hall, Room 218, to learn more about how to apply for an internship at the Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies. Mahalo.