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2022 DHRC Student-Initiated Summer Internship Fellow

Ayla Kaufman

Ayla Kaufman
BA Public Policy; minor, Modern Middle Eastern and North African Studies ‘24

“The Donia Human Rights Center Student-Initiated Fellowship financially supported my 10-week internship this summer at the U.S. Libya External Office (Embassy), which is based at the U.S. Embassy to Tunisia. Specifically, I interned in the embassy’s Public Affairs Section (PAS), which executes the Embassy's public diplomacy goals.

In the mornings, I worked on the Daily Media Summary, a daily report compiling all news in or about Libya from the past 24 hours. In the afternoons, I created an Alumni Engagement Strategy for engaging Libyan alumni of U.S. exchange programs. The strategy involved creating an annual calendar and framework for alumni engagement by planning monthly events, devising an annual social media strategy with drafted posts, creating monthly newsletters, and establishing an Alumni Volunteer Council. Over the summer, I had the unique opportunity to manage the summer alumni programming, craft a new strategy, work firsthand with Libyan alumni, and learn about the embassy's strategic communications.

Interning at the LEO was vital for my professional development. I walked away each day with a better understanding of U.S. foreign policy, more clarity over my future career, and new skills. I truly received the best possible introduction to U.S. foreign policy and left with a stronger understanding of the logistics for implementing foreign policy, the functions of different sections of embassies, how embassies and DC interact to produce foreign policy, and the day-to-day lifestyles of FSOs. Following the internship, I also feel more capable in program design and management, media analysis and messaging, writing, and public-speaking. Additionally, living alone in a foreign country with a very different culture and limited English facilitated personal growth and independence. I also had the amazing opportunity to explore Tunisia’s history and culture by traveling throughout Tunisia’s cities, ancient ruins, and the Sahara Desert. With each adventure, stroll through souks and art streets, trial of Tunisian food, and conversation with Tunisians, I gained more insight and a non-western perspective of North African culture and history.

My internship, professional development, and personal growth would not have been possible absent the Donia Human Rights Center Student-Initiated Fellowship. The generous financial support empowered me to explore foreign service and Tunisia without financial strain. I am eternally grateful to have had this life-changing opportunity.”