Student Initiated Summer Internship Fellowship Recipient, Ayla Kaufman, reflects on her experience with the U.S. Embassy to Libya
Can you describe your fellowship briefly for us? What tasks do you work on day to day?
The Donia Human Rights Fellowship has financially supported my 10-week internship this summer at the U.S. Embassy to Libya, which is based at the U.S. Embassy to Tunisia. Within the embassy, I work in the Public Affairs Section on a range of media and cultural assignments. Every day is different, but my mornings always consist of contributing to the daily media summary, a compilation of all news in or about Libya from the past 24 hours. In the afternoon, my main portfolio is developing a new strategy for engaging Libyan alumni of U.S. exchange programs, as well as assisting with exchange program implementation.
What has been the most important lesson that you have taken away from your experience?
Although this is not a concrete skill, the most important lesson that I have taken away from my experience thus far is a better understanding of foreign service. Establishing a foundation for how an embassy operates, its role in the foreign policy process, and the lifestyle of Foreign Service Officers is challenging without witnessing embassy work firsthand. I now have a much better appreciation for the logistics of implementing foreign policy, the functions of different sections of embassies, how embassies and DC interact to produce foreign policies, and the day to day lifestyles in and out of the office for Foreign Service Officers.
Do you feel this fellowship will help you pave your future career path? In what ways?
Absolutely! I am most importantly leaving my internship with clarity over my future career path, which will undoubtedly help me seek out opportunities and skills development that will prepare me for my future career. My skill set in program design and management, media analysis and messaging, writing, and public speaking have all improved tremendously this summer. I am also walking away with a stronger understanding of North African culture, which is essential in producing effective foreign policy.
Have you had much time to do any activities outside of your work? What have you enjoyed doing in your spare time?
Every day I try to explore a different part of Tunisia. I have travelled through the old city (medina) of Tunis; the suburbs of Sidi Bou Said, Gammarth, and La Marsa; the ancient ruins of Carthage, Dougga, Bulla Regia, and El Jem; the Cap Bon Peninsula including Hammamet, Nabeul, Kelibia, Kerkouane, and Haouaria; Sousse; and Djerba. I spend most weekdays after work wandering through the souks and art streets, relaxing at the beach, and enjoying Tunisian food.