In the depths of another snowy winter, Gershwin’s Summertime provides a pleasant outlet. A large part of the Masters of Arts in International Relations program is summertime. While the next round of MPA’s are slaving through public budging, some MAIR students will be fighting actual slavery. Yes in this century, slavery is still an issue in Ghana. I am not talking about the slave castles in Cape Coast and Elmina but children forced to fish on Lake Volta.

Back to summertime, MAIR students are required to do a Global Internship between the summer and their final fall semester.  The program is very flexible on what students do and even when. There are Global Programs in Washington, D.C. for the summer and for the fall. You can even find your own internship. Many students opt to do both, simultaneously look for their program while applying to one of the university’s programs.

Syracuse runs a fairly new program called Survey of Current Issues in African Migration with International Organization for Migration (IOM)’s Ghana office. If migration sounds dry, check out what is actually going on in Ghana. There are many development issues tied to displaced populations. From educating students on the dangers of child slavery on Lake Volta to assisting displaced foreign nationals from Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria and other neighboring countries, IOM works to address a host of migration issues.

What do students actually do? IOM offers placement in the field or within their local headquarters in Accra, Ghana’s capital. Field work usually supports local staff with their projects which draws on new knowledge and skills from two semesters of practical coursework. There is also a possibility of creating a community needs assessment under the supervision of a local supervisor. Presenting the assessment to relevant community leaders caps off the experience. It is the sort of work which international development organizations find relevant during the hiring process and serve almost as a more practical version of a thesis.

Stay tuned for more. Regardless of where I go, there will be blog posts!