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Korbel Students Land Unique Internship Experiences Through IGLI Oxfam Partnership

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Korbel Communications

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The Sié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security and Diplomacy has a unique partnership with Oxfam America that has grown over the years. Several years ago, the Sié Center hosted Oxfam America’s Dr. Kimberly Pfeifer, Acting Knowledge for Impact Director, as a visiting practitioner-in-residence. These days, Oxfam America and the Sié Center co-host a joint post-doctoral fellow and are exploring additional opportunities for collaboration. Dr. Elizabeth Brannon is the current joint post-doctoral fellow. She serves as a bridge between the two organizations through collaborative research on policy-relevant questions related to women’s leadership and feminist U.S. foreign policy. Last year, the growing partnership also announced a new internship program between Oxfam America and the Sié Center’s Inclusive Global Leadership Initiative (IGLI). Two Korbel students, Evan Waddill and Xuan Nguyen, were the first interns of the nascent union. 

This collaboration provides an internship for Korbel students at Oxfam America’s Gender, Justice, and Inclusion Hub. IGLI’s mission to initiate research, education, and programming aimed at elevating and amplifying the work that women-identified activists are doing at the grassroots to promote peace, justice, and human rights around the world aligns perfectly with the work being conducted at this Oxfam hub.

Regarding the internship, Oxfam America provides the internship experience, IGLI provides partial funding for students, and the Sié Center manages the administrative logistics. When designing the internship, the Sié Center prioritized providing funding for the interns, recognizing the stress unpaid internships can place on graduate students.

 For Waddill, applying to the internship almost made too much sense. Waddill, already a Sié Center fellow, focuses much of her academic work on the intersection of human rights and gender. Throughout her internship with Oxfam, Waddill worked on three types of tasks: collaborating with the GJIH on various policy and research projects, researching gender ministries, and supporting advocacy work through the Big Ideas Coalition for Women and Girls. With her work in the GJIH, Waddill helped staff on projects on unpaid care work, parental leave policy, and this year’s Commission of the Status of Women. Her second project was “supporting Ms. Brannon and a few Oxfam colleagues on their research looking at gender ministries around the world and their impact in their country.” Finally, she worked with the Big Ideas Coalition, which, according to Waddill, “is a group of policymakers in the DC space that work on women and girls’ rights issues.” Throughout the internship, Waddill sought opinions from those in the sector, and the diverse work informed her about the current best practices in the non-profit world.

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Waddill credits the African Women and Revolution class at Korbel with shaping her outlook throughout the application process and the internship. The class emphasized a feminist framework, which Waddill repeatedly referenced throughout her application process.  Looking ahead, Waddill appreciated “the insight into a bigger, international NGO and how the projects connect around the world as well as how gender fits into an institution like Oxfam.” The insight she gleaned from the internship will help shape her future career. 

Nguyen’s experience mirrored Waddill’s in meaningful ways. As the first intern of the partnership, she too worked on three projects during her internship. Nguyen said that “the first project I worked on was to revise and draft and update the Gender Policy document for 2020…to be more justice-focused and inclusive in line with the current political climate.” For her second project, Nguyen said she was tasked to “create a comprehensive guide on intersectionality in feminism/gender justice and how to mainstream it in the actual work [Oxfam America] does.” Ms. Nguyen’s final project involved creating a way to measuring how much time Oxfam employees spend supporting gender work.

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Nguyen credits her role as a research assistant for associate professor and IGLI director, Marie Berry with providing her the “skills for literature, researching, and writing critically through a gender-focused framework of understanding.” Nguyen also credits her classes with honing her writing and communication skills, a vital skill throughout her experience. Echoing the Sié Center, Nguyen expressed appreciation for the funding component of the internship, stating, “the mere fact that the internship includes a stipend and funding…is actually huge. It’s the principle of it.”

Both Waddill and Nguyen expressed gratitude for the partnership and the partnership’s focus on gender. Gergana Kostadinova, the Program Manager for the Sié Center, expressed satisfaction with the partnership as well, saying “both of these partnerships have gone very well… so the Sié Center is renewing the agreement to host a post-doc for next year and the Sié Center is renewing the agreement to host interns as well”. Oxfam, according to Kostadinova, has been “very impressed by the interns they have been able to recruit from Korbel.” As the two sides contemplate ways to expand the consortium, both sides agree that providing an in-person option will be the next step.


This article was written by Korbel School MA student Colin Babikian.