For Michael Lui (MAIPS ’15), his summer internship working for the nonprofit organization Global Compassion in Cameroon was a transformative experience that he hopes to continue to build upon as he completes his degree in International Policy Studies, with a certificate in Conflict Resolution. For two and a half months Michael worked in the rural municipality of Santchou working on a grant proposal to implement a water project. His work involved researching existing wells and water taps, meeting with stakeholders, consulting with water experts and lots of writing.
The internship was exactly the missing piece Michael had been searching for. “I have always been amazed at the breadth of experience many of my fellow students bring to the class,” he shares, adding that he is a “California boy” who is really interested in conflict resolution as it relates to development issues, but before this summer had no experience working in a developing country. “It changes everything,” he says. Despite having studied poverty, development and conflict case studies for many years, he now says he finally understands what issues such as lack of access to potable water really mean.
Michael learned about the internship opportunity through the Center for Advising and Career Services. They in turn heard about it from recent alumnus Mohammed Makhlouf (MAIPS ’13), who had encouraged the president of Global Compassion to hire MIIS students and notified CACS staff of the position. Mohammed is a part of the very active international Monterey Institute alumni network.
Back in Monterey, where he has just started his third semester of studies, Michael has plans to build on his Cameroon experience as part of his class projects. His language of study is French, and during his time in Cameroon he says he was able to greatly improve his language skills. “Being able to talk to people in French really helped me a lot in my job because I was able to communicate directly and establish rapport with people.” Michael admits the experience was not without its challenges, but he learned a lot about himself and the field to which he aspires. “My main take away,” he says earnestly, is that “the world is full of opportunities and we have the ability to make a big difference if we do things right.”