Mar. 22, 1999
Volume 51, No. 24
Carter Center Update:
Carter Center internships enhance learning at home and abroad
Saika Uno of Japan, a member of The Carter Center's internship program, returns today from a weeklong trip to Central America. The purpose of her journey: to learn more about the relation between business practices and human rights there.
"In school, you learn a lot," said Uno, "but being part of efforts that are actually helping to change people's lives is very exciting. My experience at The Carter Center has added a great deal to what I learned academically." Having also traveled earlier this year to Indonesia with the center's Democracy Program, Uno believes that such hands-on learning opportunities help students of all levels reach their full potential.
Debbie Palmer of Great Britain agreed. "A Bobby Jones scholarship to Emory from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland afforded me the opportunity to become an intern at The Carter Center. As part of my internship I worked on election monitoring efforts in Venezuela," she said. "For months preceding the trip I translated documents, analyzed electoral laws and researched various papers and speeches," Palmer explained. "So to be in Venezuela on election day and see how my work helped make a difference was very rewarding. I served as part of the delegation and visited various polling sites to see firsthand how the election process worked. What I learned was invaluable."
Uno and Palmer are among 35 participants in the center's internship program this semester. "We currently have 13 students from eight countries at the center working in various areas, including the Democracy and Latin America and Caribbean programs," said Cynthia Hooks, director of educational programs at the center. "We work with local, national and international academic institutions in an effort to attract the best applicants and educate the academic community about the center's mission and activities," she added. "About half of the 100 students who work at the center each year attend Emory."
All interns at the center work with supervisors in each program area to establish weekly projects and long-term assignments, committing a minimum of 15 hours a week for at least one semester. Many receive academic credit and some are allowed to extend their internships. Interns are typically given a broad range of duties focusing on issues addressed by their programs. To augment the work experience, educational and social opportunities are provided as well.
Carter Center internships are offered throughout the year to juniors, seniors, graduate and professional school students, and recent graduates. Although most interns are not paid, the center offers a limited number of stipends through a summer graduate program open to graduate and professional school students.
"The Carter Center's educational programs build upon the institution's emphasis on action and results," said Hooks. "Overall I think participants in the internship program not only learn more about particular areas of interest but about themselves as individuals--and as future leaders." That sentiment is reflected in advice both Uno and Palmer have for their peers. "I would tell students that if they have a particular subject of interest to explore programs that can help them get actively involved in that area," said Palmer. "When my internship ends in May I will have spent nine months at The Carter Center. What I am coming away with is a clearer understanding of my capabilities--and a clearer vision of what I want to do professionally."
"It is always helpful to expand knowledge in as many ways as possible," added Uno. "What is interesting about different learning opportunities such as internships is that you never know where they might lead."
"The experiences Saika and Debbie have had are just two examples of how much students can accomplish and learn through an internship," said Hooks. "What The Carter Center's internship program repeatedly demonstrates is that it helps fill the gap between the classroom and the real world."
Applications for The Carter Center's internship program can be downloaded from the center's web site at <www.cartercenter.org>. The application deadline for fall internships is June 15.
Ann Carney is assistant director of public information at The Carter