Buckman International Internship Program

Initiated in 1994 through a generous gift of the Buckman family, the Mertie W. Buckman International Internship Program provides the opportunity for five to six outstanding International Studies majors to broaden global understanding through living and working abroad during the summer months. The program includes an eight-week internship with an additional travel stipend and two hours of Rhodes College credit. Qualified applicants are rising junior or senior International Studies majors (including International Studies interdisciplinary majors) with a minimum overall/major GPA of 3.3 and relevant foreign language skills. The program is coordinated by the Director of International Education, the Director of Career Services, and faculty members from the Department of International Studies.  

Rhodes International Studies students have travelled to all areas of the world with the Mertie W. Buckman International Internship Program. Some countries include Singapore, Hong Kong, Germany, Argentina, and Ireland, with internships with a variety of employers ranging from multinational corporations such as FedEx to local human rights organizations.

a young man with a hat rides a bicycle on a pier

The Department of International Studies is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Mertie Buckman International Internships Program! 

2019 Buckman International Interns

head shot of Joon Swang

Hometown: Chiang Mai, Thailand & Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Major(s): International Studies 
Internship location (city, country): Hong Kong SAR, China
Employer: PAKT
 

This summer I had the unique opportunity of working for PAKT, a start-up in Hong Kong that specializes in luxury wardrobe concierge services. During my eight weeks at PAKT, I worked on research projects, including one where I calculated the potential market for clothing rentals in Hong Kong. Other projects included writing an updated investor deck, formatting countless spreadsheets, and taking staff portraits for the company. Due to the small size of the company, I worked directly with the CEO and other upper management, which allowed me to learn from their experiences in marketing and business development. 

In addition to my internship, I was able to experience Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests for the entirety of my two-month stay. The protests started out as peaceful marches along the city’s main roads, but police brutality and attacks from local gangs angered citizens into more violent riots. During my last week, hundreds of flights were cancelled as aviation unions went on strike, the city’s transportation was paralyzed by protestors blocking subway doors and occupying roads, and my apartment street was filled with brick-hurling protestors, riot police, and tear gas. Witnessing Hong Kong’s dedication to its freedoms and rights was an eye-opening experience, and one that will undoubtedly influence my future studies and work in International Studies. I am so thankful to the Buckman family and Rhodes for this opportunity.

head shot of Phyu Thin Khine

Hometown: Mandalay, Myanmar
Major(s): International Studies
Internship location: Essen, Germany
Employer: Caritasverband für die Stadt Essen (CSE) 


This summer, I had the privilege of working for CSE, a nonprofit organization located in Essen, Germany, that focuses on resettling asylum seekers and refugees. I worked at a camp that hosts about 45 women and children who were previously victims of some form of gender-based violence. They were mostly from Syria and African countries such as Gambia, Ghana, and Guinea. As an intern, I was able to see for myself the workings of the European refugee policy and listened to stories from real refugees. This experience greatly supplemented the theories I have learned in classes at Rhodes, making for a holistic learning experience. One of my duties included planning and executing The Women Cafe on Wednesday afternoons. Some of the activities planned included a mini spa day, a baking tournament, and some meditation exercises. The Women Cafe featured some of my favorite moments of the internship, as it allowed me to get closer to the women living in the camp.

I am constantly in awe of how tolerant and accepting the German society is of different peoples. During the weekends, I also had the chance to travel within and around Germany, which gave me invaluable insight to the country’s culture and history. I will forever be grateful to the Buckman family for providing me with an opportunity of a lifetime. 

head shot of Sarah Eiland

Hometown: Mobile, Alabama
Major(s): History and International Studies double major
Internship location: Cape Town, South Africa
Employer: Streetscapes, Khulisa Social Solutions
 

This summer I had the unique opportunity to work for an NGO named Streetscapes, a project of a larger NGO, Khulisa Social Solutions. Streetscapes aims to uplift the homeless population of Cape Town by providing meaningful job opportunities, a monthly income, and social work services to the homeless men and women with whom they work. They currently operate three urban gardens, a street sweeping operation in the tourist heavy area of town, and recently opened a safe house and rehab facility outside of town. During my time with Streetscapes I had the chance to fill a variety of roles. Some days I swept with the homeless men and talked to them about their life stories. Other days I filled the role of a garden supervisor or completed reports for stakeholders. My project in the latter half of my time in Cape Town consisted of me collecting a visual story of Streetscapes to share with donors and for the archival integrity of the organization. It culminated in a “Celebration of Streetscapes” where our pictures were hung, beneficiaries spoke, and all 45 of us in attendance ate from a giant pot soup I made in my tiny apartment. My most memorable day was my first day, when I visited the home of a notorious South African prison gang leader. Working with Streetscapes exposed me to troubles and people I would never have encountered otherwise. I learned about homelessness, apartheid, current South African political affairs, drug addiction, South African gangs, Cape Town crime, and so much more just through my daily interactions with people who are affected by these issues. My internship turned out to be much more field experience than I anticipated, but I would never have gained the knowledge and personal growth that I acquired through any other type of internship. I am forever grateful for this life changing opportunity. I will surely think of my time in Cape Town and the lessons I’ve learned for years to come.

head shot of Sara Weeks

Hometown: Nashville, TN
Major(s): International Studies and Political Science
Internship Location: Mytilene, Greece
Employer: Municipality of Lesvos at Kara Tepe

This summer I had the honor of working as an intern with the Municipality of Lesvos at a refugee camp called Kara Tepe on the island of Lesvos. Kara Tepe is a hospitality center that offers temporary housing to refugee families and vulnerable populations while they go through their registration and asylum process. Because I worked for the municipality and not one specific NGO, I had a diverse range of responsibilities within the camp. In fact, one of my favorite things about working in Kara Tepe was that every day was a different surprise. Due to the constant shifting needs of the residents and the management, I was always kept on my toes with what tasks would need to be completed. As a result, I experienced almost every aspect of running a refugee camp, from installing shading on the roofs of the units to teaching English classes to going on patrols at night to ensure the safety of the residents. Every day was a new challenge and an unexpected adventure that pushed me past my comfort zone and allowed me to grow in ways I never imagined.

I will be forever grateful to the Buckman family for affording me this incredible opportunity to gain a better understanding of the impact of the refugee crisis, not only on the refugees themselves but also that of the communities, like Lesvos, that are receiving them. Kara Tepe will always hold a special place in my heart and I will always cherish the time I spent there!

head shot of Kristin Morris

Hometown: Little Rock, AR
Major(s): International Studies
Internship Location: Rabat, Morocco
Employer: Foundation Orient-Occident

This summer, I spent two transformative months in the coastal Moroccan capital of Rabat. With historical, religious, and geographic connections to Europe, Middle East, and Africa, Morocco is a culmination of diverse influences, languages, and cultures. Through my internship with Foundation Orient-Occident, I created and supervised a summer school program for Moroccan youth, taught adult English courses to migrants and Moroccans, and researched migration origins, causes, and integration.

My most impactful experiences, though, came from honest and personal conversations with Moroccan and migrant friends. I received a deeper understanding of Moroccan daily life and gender norms as well as the inherent societal issues related to wealth disparities, acquisition of jobs, interactions with female foreigners, and feelings toward migrants. I also learned about the Moroccan migration approach and the migrant impact on Morocco’s labor market and insufficient resources.

I am forever grateful to the Buckman family for giving me this opportunity to immerse myself into the beautiful chaos of the Moroccan culture. My favorite memories include a night spent in the Sahara, evening walks down Mohammed 5 Avenue with my Moroccan friends, being packed like a sardine in taxis to and from my internship, consuming 3-4 daily doses of mint tea and bread with honey, and journaling on my host-family’s rooftop terrace as the sun sets over the city that stole my heart. 

head shot of Jessica Frankl

Hometown: Foster City, CA
Major(s): International Relations and Education
Internship location (city, country): Cape Town, South Africa
Employer: Just Grace

This summer I had the pleasure of working at Just Grace, an education supplementing NPO in Cape Town, South Africa that works to assist high school students in the underprivileged Langa township. In my time there I was able to design and run several lessons of a variety of topics including study skills, women’s rights, and future career choices. I also designed and ran a one-week camp for around 100 learners during the break. In addition, I did individual tutoring sessions, after school homework help, and a variety of administrative tasks to reorganize the records and translate them to a digital format. However, my largest and most fulfilling project was my independent initiative to develop a program to track and support students applying to university. I devoted myself to this effort and it was a success. When he noticed what I had done the head of the NPO decided to implement my plan for future years as well. I am so deeply grateful to Rhodes and the Buckman family for this opportunity. I loved my students and being immersed in Xhosa culture. I learned a tremendous amount about what it takes to support students in a segregated disadvantaged ESL school district and most of all I felt that I really made a difference to the community.

head shot of Caitlin Gaine

Hometown: Long Island, New York
Major(s)International Studies 
Internship location: Dublin, Ireland
Employer: CBM Ireland 

This summer I was fortunate enough to intern with CBM Ireland over the course of eight weeks. Christian Blind Mission Ireland is an international development NGO which works towards providing support to people with disabilities in some of the poorest countries in the world. I served as their program and marketing intern, working directly with the CBM staff to write grant proposals and plan upcoming fundraising events. These experiences greatly helped me understand how NGOs may effectively work with international institutions, such as the European Union, to achieve worthy goals. Additionally, I enjoyed the process of planning a large-scale fundraising event, productively contributing to the efforts by designing logos and a website to advertise for the event. My internship at CBM Ireland provided me with the unique experience of working in the international development sector from the perspective of a European NGO. I am confident that my time spent with the CBM team has greatly advanced my understanding of this professional field. I am endlessly grateful to Rhodes and to the Buckman family for making this personal and professional growth possible. I am confident that the lessons I learned will continue to further me in my professional development and I will cherish the memories I made forever.

2018 Buckman International Interns

A portrait of Bella Harden near a tree

Hometown: San Antonio, TX
Major: International Studies
Internship Location: Brussels, Belgium

Employer: The German Marshall Fund of the US 

This summer I had the privilege of working in the Brussels office of the German Marshall Fund (GMF) of the United States, a prestigious think-tank that works to strengthen the transatlantic partnership between the U.S. and Europe. I was able to pursue my interests and my studies at Rhodes through the research I conducted on topics such as women’s representation in the workforce and Russia’s interference in Western Europe. I also set up events at the GMF with the other trainees, allowing me to form close bonds and friendships with my peers. The most enjoyable facet of my job was attending events hosted by other think-tanks, which allowed me to pursue interests outside of my research. This also enabled me to network with influential people in the European and international communities who are based out of Brussels. Brussels’ central importance to European politics makes it an incredibly interesting place to foray into the field of international relations, a quality strengthened by its charming citizens, legendary french fries, and endless green spaces. 
I am forever grateful to Rhodes and to the Buckman family for affording me this opportunity. This was an experience I will cherish for the remainder of my time at Rhodes, and for long after. 

Portrait of Zach Thornton outside by a tree

Hometown: Lexington, KY
Major: International Studies & History Internship

Location: Mumbai, India
Employer: Bombay Leprosy Project 

This summer I had the unique opportunity of combining my major in international studies with my interest in medicine through an internship at Bombay Leprosy Project (BLP). BLP is an NGO that provides free treatment to leprosy patients throughout Mumbai and the surrounding areas and aims to reduce the stigma surrounding the disease through community involvement and education. As an intern, I was able to learn a great deal about leprosy and health care in developing countries through observing patient care. After developing an understanding of the disease, I worked to gather patient data to be used in several studies that will help to better the understanding of leprosy, including a longitudinal study on leprosy patients as they develop symptoms and undergo treatment. I was also able to interact with patients and practice a little bit of Hindi while working with a pharmacist to give patients correct doses of medication. BLP allowed me the perfect opportunity to gain medical experience through an international lens. 
While in India, I was able to gain a better understanding of the vibrant and diverse culture that exists throughout the country. From my daily commutes on the local train to exploring colonial palaces and forts, each day was a new challenge and adventure. Being able to spend the summer in an unfamiliar culture and society pushed me constantly and allowed me to develop skills in problem solving and cultural literacy. Though my mouth has recovered from the constant spicy food, my summer in Mumbai will remain with me my entire life. 

Portrait of Ben Tracy outside by a tree

Hometown: Germantown, TN
Majors: International Studies and Chinese Studies Internship

Location: São Paulo, Brazil
Employer: Sidera Consult 

I had the honor of interning at Sidera Consult in São Paulo, Brazil, with the Mertie Buckman Internship Program. Sidera is a consulting firm dedicated to market access in Brazil, international trade, WTO disputes, and economics. Our office was small, with about nine full-time employees and five interns, including myself. Our main project of the summer was working with APEX, an initiative started by the Brazilian Ministry of Commerce and Agriculture to research how to incentivize foreign direct investment. I mainly worked on “benchmarking,” which involves researching where particular Brazilian crops are grown or produced and then creating a report on where investment should go for that particular product. I was also heavily involved with communicating with Chinese companies and writing articles on China-Brazil trade relations. It was amazing to be able to use my Portuguese, Mandarin, and Spanish language skills in the of ce. This internship also allowed me to work with the two countries I am most interested in, China and Brazil. During my time at Sidera, I learned a lot about international trade, economics, and the potential of the Brazilian economy. The country has so much potential to become not only an agricultural superpower, but an industrial power as well. I also had the opportunity to travel around Brazil by visiting Recife, Rio de Janeiro, and Curitiba. Brazil is such a diverse country, and each region has its own distinct culture and way of life. São Paulo is the commercial center of the country, with awe-inspiring skyscrapers and a multiethnic population, from the Japanese district of Liberdade to the Lebanese neighborhoods. I believe that I have built a great connection with São Paulo and met many new friends. I hope that I can use what I learned in my internship for my future career! See you soon, Brazil! 

Portrait of Alex Schramkowski outside by a tree

Hometown: Brentwood, TN
Major: International Studies
Internship Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Employer: South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) 

 

During my two-month stay in Cape Town, South Africa, I had the honor of working within the Heritage Objects Unit of the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA). SAHRA operates as the national government agency responsible for maintaining the country’s cultural heritage. This means, on a day-to-day basis, I found myself researching and examining important cultural artifacts and historical sites, drafting protection and preservation agreements known as Heritage Agreements, interacting with other domestic and international government organizations ranging from the Master of the High Court to the Government of Qatar, to even having the chance to visit important heritage sites throughout the country. I traveled throughout the city of Cape Town, throughout the province of the Western Cape, and even into the country’s financial hub of Johannesburg. Working with SARHA afforded me fundamental experience in dealing with international relations, legal work, and government work in South Africa. Thanks to the amazing opportunity the Buckman family so graciously provides through the Mertie W. Buckman fellowship, I was able to truly immerse myself in a cultural, political, and social environment different from my own. I would not sacrifice this experience for the world! 

Portrait of Austin Schmude by a tree

Hometown: Hope Mills, NC
Major: International Studies
Internship Location: Tianjin, China
Employer: Doctor Management Consulting Company 

I spent three months this summer interning with Doctor Management Consulting Company. I worked with the team consulting for the Tiens Group, a billion-dollar multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology conglomerate operating out of Tianjin, China. My tasks often involved translating material between Chinese and English. The upper management of Tiens had decided to conduct as much of their business in English as possible, and I was sometimes given documents written by the directors to translate into English before the company disseminated them. However, my favorite assignment was a series of presentations I was asked to give on American business English and etiquette. 
My internship experience was fantastic; I was able to gain insight into both business management through Doctor and the pharmaceutical industry through Tiens. The commute to Tiens was over two hours long, so during the week most of the Doctor employees stayed overnight at Tiens, resulting in a tightly knit group of coworkers. Immersing myself completely into a new culture and language with my coworkers was an unforgettable adventure. 
During my free time, I was able to explore all the sights that a city of 15 million has to offer. The sheer scale of everything in the city often left me dumbfounded. I’m incredibly grateful for the chance to experience first-hand how large the world really is. 

Portrait of Hamid Shirwany by a tree

Hometown: Germantown, TN
Majors: International Studies & History and Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Internship Location: Rabat, Morocco
Employer: Organisation Panafricaine de lutte contre la Sida 


I spent the summer in Rabat, Morocco, interning at Organisation Panafricaine de lutte contre le Sida (OPALS), a nonprofit, NGO that focuses on combating AIDS and promoting sexual and reproductive health. OPALS provides free and anonymous care, psychological support, and screening for persons suffering from AIDS. And through educational and social activities and programs, OPALS seeks to prevent the transmission of AIDS and STIs among populations at risk, including youth, women, sex professionals, and migrants. At OPALS, my responsibilities were mainly administrative, translating documents and the organization’s website and assisting in organizing tasks. Outside of the internship, I traveled throughout Morocco on free weekends, visiting various cities and staying overnight in the Sahara. And considering how near it is to Morocco, I even spent a weekend in Madrid, Spain, meeting up with a friend who was also abroad at the time. 
I am immensely grateful to the Buckman family for making this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity a reality. For by going on this journey, I have developed a sense of independence that was previously lacking and I have enhanced my ability to be adaptable to challenges. But, more importantly, I have further expanded my understanding of a different culture and place, thus helping me nurture cultural humility and empathy for the immigrant experience. Ultimately, I hope and trust that the qualities I have cultivated through this experience will make me a better person, someone who can connect with and understand others better.