2017 PFIG Recipient Gabrielle Levet

Career Administrator
2017 PFIG Recipient Gabrielle Levet

Journal Entry #1

Hello everyone! My name is Gabby and I am a rising fourth year student at UVA. Over the past few years I have had the absolute privilege of studying about and exploring throughout this fascinating world in which we live. I embraced these studies and adventures in an effort to seriously confront the vast range of challenges our species has endured in the past, faces in the present and should anticipate in the future. With this global perspective, I have developed into a passionate climate activist, implementing sustainable actions on the individual, community and political level. While deciding on an internship for this summer, I chose to hone in on my interest in international affairs while branching out from my typical climate-related work. I decided that I wanted to discover how other change agents within the international realm are thinking and acting in order to address global concerns.

I stumbled upon Global Peace Foundation, an international NGO, while browsing through UVA Career Center’s Handshake resource. I was attracted to Global Peace Foundation’s mission of “engaging and organizing a global network of public and private-sector partners who develop community, national, and regional peace building models as the foundation for ethical and cohesive societies”. Also, I was intrigued by the opportunity to participate in an international entity that serves populations across regions of Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas.  Lastly, I chose this internship for the chance to work on an international project--the International Young Leaders Assembly (IYLA). IYLA is a “partnership-driven leadership development program that empowers young leaders to positively impact their communities, nations, and the world” that will take place this August in DC, Philadelphia, and NYC. I have been excited to play a role in a tangible effort that would come to fruition throughout the duration of the summer internship, despite recognizing that my contributions only amounted to a small portion of the planning and time needed to execute such a massive production.

I began my internship a few weeks ago as the International Outreach and Public Relations intern with Global Peace Foundation (GPF), jumping into various roles and many exciting opportunities.  GPF emphasizes the importance of personal development and has made significant efforts to provide a valuable internship opportunity for all of the interns. Every day is unpredictable and fluctuating, and thus the experience has already been quite an adventure. I have attended events at the World Bank and the Malaysian Embassy as well as explored the Library of Congress and a Senate hearing. In the office, I am responsible for developing the corporate donor database and corresponding with accepted applicants to IYLA. In addition, I am working with another intern on embassy outreach to enhance our partnerships with as many countries as possible! Last week we visited nine different embassies to develop these partnerships and extend an invitation for the embassies to participate in IYLA. Moving forward, we plan to continue nurturing those relationships and branching out to other embassies as well. In the coming weeks, I hope to contribute to program development for next year’s IYLA. Since the Assembly is coming up in August, there is a lot of work to get done which makes for an exciting experience in the office!

In addition, the office hosts “lunch and learns” in which the interns share a meal and learn about the efforts of staff members in the office. Last week we learned about the Safe Haven Campaign, an effort to raise awareness about human trafficking. This week we completed a personal development training on the concepts of ‘influencers’ and ‘values-based’ work. And next week there will be a presentation on their Korean Unification campaign. These "lunch and learns" have inspired me to brainstorm ways to incorporate what I learn into this coming semester. While interning in the non-profit sector, I hope to delve deeper into the obstacles, benefits, and avenues for improvement. I have truly enjoyed the diverse opportunities that I have already experienced and look forward to the rest of my time with Global Peace Foundation! 

Journal Entry #2

Hello all! I am approximately halfway done with my internship and it has been quite a roller coaster of an experience, with endless learning at every twist and turn. I was told from the beginning that I would need to be flexible and adaptable while working with Global Peace Foundation and thus I’ve embraced my spontaneous side over the course of this summer. While interning, I have learned how to balance the fine line between asking questions when directions are unclear and taking the lead when I feel confident. It is totally crunch time in the office as we scramble to solidify last minute logistics such as participants, speakers, and events for the International Young Leaders Assembly, starting August 7th in DC.

I have realized, alongside my boss, that my role as International Outreach and Public Relations intern is slightly inopportune since the Assembly is coming up so soon. In addition to doing last minute outreach, she has assigned me to projects surrounding program, funding and outreach development for next year’s IYLA. I am soaking in all of their approaches to planning and analyzing how to improve those processes based on my own research and past experiences. I have compiled an extensive manual, including past IYLA resources and future documents that other interns and I have created. I have applied my previous experiences of event planning, community outreach and fundraising to these development documents. Although it has been disappointing to not be able to contribute my ideas to this year’s program, I am excited to know that my input will hopefully be applied to planning and implementation for years to come. I should have foreseen that this untimely situation would occur, which is a problematic feature of summer internships--students come in and out with lack of continuity.

This short span of time working in the ‘real world’ has reminded me that I am close to the point in which I will need to make a longer term commitment to a job within the next year. That’s mind boggling! Working with this broad, globally minded human rights oriented organization reinforced my notion that my career must directly involve environmental sustainability yet intersectionality remains essential. Environmental issues, among other issues, should not and do not exist in a vacuum--we must acknowledge and work alongside one another to address social issues through comprehensive, interwoven approaches. Although I believe the mission and vision of this organization is high quality and exceptionally moral, I am becoming convinced that in order to affect significant change, you must start on the local level with a more direct focus. Also, I have learned a lot about funding and the absolute necessity for financial stability in any organization. I learned from a Lunch and Learn speaker that every non-profit should be run like a business with a strategic plan for how to bring in funds to support their programs. That is another key takeaway from the last few weeks.

 I believe that this experience was necessary to reaffirm these previously held speculations about how to 'make change'. However, my search to understand how to positively influence local and global communities is not over, in the least. In fact, I am in the processing of proposing a “Global Peace Climate Sector” as a side project that I think is a missing piece to this organization. Hopefully, I will present this idea to the bosses and staff at the end of the summer, once IYLA is over. This experience, alongside other inspirational factors, has influenced me to create my own environmental sustainability business with one of my best friends! I have begun working diligently over the last few days to brainstorm and plan out how this will come to fruition. Needless to say, I am learning more than I ever could’ve imagined and am so ecstatic to continue an optimistic career in public service, related to environmental protection for the rest of my life. I want to challenge anyone reading this to:

1. Find a passion that keeps you up at night because you are so excited about it. The world is a fascinating place--there's bound to be something intrinsically motivating that drives you!

2. Immerse yourself in every way possible--read, take action, write, discuss etc about your passion to anyone and everyone.

3. Think outside the box about your opportunities for a lifelong vision, branch outside of the normal prism in which you are taught to think about careers and dream as big as you can because now is the prime chance you’ve got to make a difference in the world around you as an educated college student with the world at your fingertips!

 Also, if you have a chance, check out Daniel Quinn’s inspirational and mind boggling book Ishmael--a secular, apolitical book about how to understand the world in which we live. It has certainly transformed my mindset over the last few weeks and I'd love to discuss with others!

Journal Entry #3

My internship with Global Peace Foundation has officially come to a close! In this final blog post I will describe my experience at the Assembly and analyze what I learned through IYLA as a whole.

 The International Young Leaders Assembly began on Monday, August 7 and I was able to attend the DC portion of the program, from August 7-11. The program began with an orientation and dinner at the hotel as guests arrived. There were icebreakers and team building games to acclimate the guests who had traveled from all across the world for this program. We had delegates from Nepal, Australia, Pakistan, Malaysia, Japan, Jamaica, Peru, Uganda, South Korea, the Philippines, etc. The delegates were split into teams to keep track of everyone for the journey. The GPF staff selected different team leaders each day to be responsible for their teams. The next day we began with a workshop at the Hall of States hosted by the Sustained Dialogue Institute. The President of SDI spoke and led an activity focused on the importance of dialogue. After lunch we went to Great Falls for team bonding activities and a hike. On Wednesday we took a tour of the US Supreme Court and the US Capitol building, along with a viewing of the Senate gallery. We spent the afternoon practicing public speaking skills in the Kennedy Caucus room. There was an evening event at the Philippines embassy. We spent Thursday morning at the State Department for briefings and discussion on North Korea as well as youth engagement efforts. Then we had an interactive training at the Red Cross on International Humanitarian Law. Following the Red Cross, we spent time at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars hearing more briefings on North Korea, as well as a presentation from USAID. That evening, the delegates took a tour of the monuments and participated in a cultural night. The DC portion concluded with a Youth Summit at the World Bank with many speakers and hundreds of community members. It was a very jampacked week of exciting events and stimulating conversations.

Throughout the course of this summer, I have observed many positive elements of IYLA as well as areas for improvement.

I will start with ideas for how to improve the program:

  1. Start planning earlier.

    1. This is a massive program, with many different stakeholders to juggle and logistics to organize. Planning should start in the fall directly after the previous IYLA has concluded. This should entail a year round planning process in order to fine tune details and increase quality of programming. I do recognize the limited capacity of a non-profit to dedicate all their time to one initiative since there are other programs throughout the year. However, I think it is imperative to view each program as a continual work in progress, rather than focusing on one effort at a time. I believe each project requires a significant and lengthy planning process.

  2. Expand intern and staff support.

    1. IYLA could benefit from fall and spring interns as well as another full time staff member. Throughout my internship, I identified many tasks that should have been completed months earlier in order to reduce stress and last minute chaos. In order to plan earlier, as mentioned above, this project requires more attention from interns and staff members throughout the year, rather than just the few months leading up to the program.

  3. Acquire funding.

    1. This is an expensive program to participate in, thus alienating young leaders from around the world who simply can’t afford such a venture. There is clear feedback about this barrier from applicants who weren’t able to attend. I believe that IYLA could be beneficial to people of all socioeconomic classes and should be more accessible to low income applicants. Global Peace Foundation should take on this role to apply for grants and funding from the public and private sector. Hopefully through grant funding the program would be able to subsidize the costs and create a more economically diverse delegate cohort.

  4. Establish a direct focus for each event.

    1. The programs throughout the week were mostly enriching and valuable but certain activities ran the risk of being too vague and oversimplified. For example, the Youth Summit was an awesome event with a diverse crowd of hundreds but the speakers seemed to repeat the same generalizations over and over again. These programs need to have a more specific focus because broadly speaking about ideals such as service and entrepreneurship for youth empowerment does not add value. I can translate this lesson to any work related to planning events.   

Despite these potentials for improvement, there were many positive aspects of the International Young Leaders Assembly.

  1. Brings people together from around the world.

    1. I was impressed and enthralled by the many different countries, occupations, and educational backgrounds represented by the cohort of delegates that participated in IYLA. It is beautiful to be a part of such a uniting force.

  2. Provides a dynamic and diverse experience for young people to travel and learn.

    1. Although I criticized the lack of funding for scholarships, I do believe that this is a beneficial educational program for people to partake in especially if they were already planning to travel abroad. This is a great way to see the United States, learn about this country and the world alongside other passionate individuals.

  3. Fosters a reflective, interactive and supportive atmosphere.

    1. IYLA, in line with Global Peace Foundation, functions on the values of respect, love and kindness (among others). I admire the tangibly positive atmosphere created within this Assembly of young people. The good vibes allowed all participants to be contemplative and introspective while still sharing those thoughts with the others. The strong group dynamics proves to be a key aspect of the program.

  4. Offers the opportunity to learn in key US institutions from key US stakeholders.

    1. IYLA provides participants with a firsthand look at many decision making institutions that lead our country and world. Although many east coast residents take our location for granted, there is a lot to learn from the institutions that surround us. I’m grateful for getting the opportunity to explore powerful buildings and meet many dedicated leaders of our country.

Since it is impossible to depict my entire experience over the past few months in this blog, please reach out to me if you have any questions or would like to converse about any aspect of public service in general. I'd love to chat! My email is grl5wa@virginia.edu.

Lastly, I wanted to thank the UVA Career Center and the Parent’s Fund for providing me the funds to participate in this internship. I am extremely grateful for their generosity and compassion for those students seeking a career in public service. This is an invaluable opportunity and I would like to extend my gratitude to all of those involved who made this a reality.