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Nicholas Hilgeman

Posted on September 22, 2014

Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, D.C.

This summer I interned for the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a non-partisan think tank located in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1962, CSIS has since grown to become a leader in foreign policy analysis and regional specialization. I applied to CSIS because of the diverse nature of the institution’s projects as well as the strength of the Middle East Program.

A large portion of my time was spent working on cultural intelligence for the United States Marine Corps. In an attempt to update both the content and presentation of the information soldiers receive about foreign countries, the Middle East Program designed four new learning products for specific areas of the Middle East that related to the region’s history, politics, culture, and military. My contribution to the project was two-fold. First, I was involved in researching and writing commentaries on key political actors and organizations in Lebanon. Second, I assisted in securing and editing video clips that pertained to particular aspects of society in Yemen and Jordan. As a whole, the project allowed me to more easily ascertain the connection between policy and practice. By equipping soldiers with a stronger understanding of unfamiliar surroundings, they are better able to make difficult decisions that may save lives.

In addition, I was also able to complete research on several aspects of Egypt. My first undertaking was an investigation into the regional role that Egypt plays in the Middle East, including its political, economic, and religious impacts. The second piece of research focused on the public health efforts of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Egypt. With the termination of all USAID programs in Egypt at the end of 2009, I explored what projects had been implemented since USAID first began work in Egypt and their eventual outcomes on aggregate public health in the country.

In the end, the internship provided me with pertinent work experience and also enabled me to expand my research, writing, and presentation skills. Whether it was relaying weekly updates to the Program Director or writing an article for the program’s newsletter, the academic and vocational knowledge I gained will be an invaluable tool as I graduate from Case and progress into the next stage of my life.

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