Washington, D.C.: The National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations' ("National Council") Annual 10-week University Student Internship and Summer Scholars Program began on May 24, 2021. Keynoting the inaugural session – and serving as the lead lecturer and resource specialist for the duration of the program – was Dr. John Duke Anthony, the National Council's Founding President and CEO.
Dr. Anthony provided background, context, and perspective regarding the National Council's vision and educational mission. In addition, he highlighted the Council's achievements over the course of its 38-year history. This year, 26 students from academic institutions around the globe are participating in the program. A special emphasis and benefit for the participants is the program's emphasis on leadership development.
The National Council's 2021 Summer Internship and Scholars Program is being administered entirely online. The rigorous, digitally-driven program and agenda provide a range of rich, beneficial, and career-enhancing opportunities for the participants.
This National Council initiative provides a fertile educational and training environment for the students. It is an invaluable experience for young leaders interested in pursuits devoted to bridging divides and enhancing the U.S.-Arab relationship.
A core component of the summer's program is a twice-weekly academic seminar. This feature of the experience has the participants interacting with Dr. Anthony and National Council staff plus an array of internationally renowned scholars on the Arab region, the Middle East, and the Islamic world.
In keeping with previous years, the seminar's substantive focus is mainly on Arabia and the Gulf. Each session examines one or more facets of this sub-region's governments and politics in addition to its people's respective needs, concerns, and continuing quests for modernization and development.
The seminar's emphasis on reading and writing is an integral part of the curriculum. According to Dr. Anthony, "The goal of improving any facet of the Arab-U.S. relationship, and vice versa, cannot be achieved by accident or coincidence. Rather, the demonstration of various skills is required. Among them, three in particular are beneficial: (1) a mastery of the relevant issues, challenges, and opportunities; (2) a capacity to analyze critically; and (3) the talent for effective oral and written communication. One among the benefits that this seminar provides the students is an opportunity to practice and strengthen these skills."
To this end, in advance of each session, the students read, critique, and respond to publications written by an array of specialists with first-hand experience in the region. In the process, the participants are able to hone the requisite analytical, writing, and public speaking skills that will serve them well in whatever paths their future careers might take.
National Council Founding President and CEO Dr. John Duke Anthony serves as the Lead Lecturer and Resource Specialist for the University Student Internship and Summer Scholars Program. Dr. Anthony is pictured here delivering a lecture on "Lenses for Learning: Constancy and Change in America's Interest in the Arab Region" to participants in the 2019 University Student Internship Program.
As the students convened last week, Dr. Anthony emphasized that the program has a special focus on three "E"s: (1) Education about the Arab region, Arabia and the Gulf, United States policymaking, and career opportunities in international affairs; (2) Empirical Experience, with students having the opportunity to hear from and interact with foreign policy practitioners and others who work day-to-day toward the goal of strengthening and expanding the Arab-U.S. relationship at both ends of the foreign relations spectrum; and (3) enhancing students' ability to harness and practice Empathy as they explore another people's cultures, economies, societies, structures, and systems of governance. In the process, the participants take advantage of the seminar's meetings, projects, and lectures to examine the implications of these and other phenomena for key American, Arab, and other foreign policy objectives.
A Virtual Experience
The National Council's 2021 Summer Internship Program is being administered online for the second consecutive year. Virtual visits to institutions of the Executive and Legislative branches of the United States government, national security policymaking, diplomacy, and international business are part of the program. Combined with the academic seminar and the opportunities to improve their communications and critical thinking skills, the program provides the participants a rich and varied educational experience.
Among American, Arab, and other countries' emerging leaders, hundreds are alumni of this program. Some have joined the U.S. or an Arab country's Foreign Service or the diplomatic and international affairs institutions of different countries. Others work at various U.S. Executive Branch agencies. Still more work as staff to Members of Congress or Congressional committees dealing with matters of foreign policy. Many have proceeded to graduate school to obtain their masters degrees or doctorates. Those who have done so have majored in international relations, often with an emphasis on the sub-region, countries, and issues that they researched, analyzed, and wrote about in this National Council program. Some work at the Council and other non-governmental organizations. Still others have become professional foreign affairs journalists or work with multinational corporations. These are just a few of the opportunities for which this program has served as a springboard.
A highlight of the program's preparation of the participants for their future careers is a one-of-a-kind two-day leadership development experience. Occurring midway in the program, the interns and scholars are provided not only a hands-on opportunity to utilize what they have learned up to that point. The participants are required to assume the positions and roles of real-life diplomats representing individual Arab countries and the Secretariat of the League of Arab States. In so doing, acting in the mirror image of an actual Arab ministerial and heads of state summit, the participants have a chance to exhibit and apply various aspects of what they have learned about Arabia, the Gulf, and other parts of the Arab region.
League of Arab States Secretary General His Excellency Ahmed Aboul Gheit delivered the keynote address to the National Council's 2021 National University Model Arab League / Youth Leadership Development Forum on March 26, 2021.
This particular activity is a part of the National Council's flagship youth educational, training, and leadership development program: Model Arab League. A key feature of the activity is that the participants are provided an opportunity to learn what is typically beyond what is offered or taught in their university-level academic studies. Through their role-playing as Arab diplomats, the student interns and scholars work at strengthening their public speaking, writing, and editing skills, practice parliamentary procedure, try their hand at drafting resolutions, and learn the art of forming coalitions in support of the policies they believe should receive serious and favorable consideration by their fellow summiteers.
The National Council Needs Your Help
Together with the National Council's other programs, projects, events, and activities, the Council's University Student Internship and Summer Scholars Program is made possible by financial contributions from supporters of the Council's cross-cultural and bridge-building mission.
To help sustain and grow the National Council's educational activities, please consider donating to the organization at ncusar.org/donate. The Council is recognized as a 501(c)(3) public charity and supporters' contributions are federally tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.
About the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations: Founded in 1983 and based in Washington, D.C., the National Council is an American non-profit, non-governmental, educational organization. The Council pursues its educational mission through nine programs, projects, events, and activities. Each is dedicated to enhancing American awareness and appreciation of the extraordinary benefits that the United States has long derived from its special relationships with countries in the Arab region – and vice versa.
At the center of the National Council's efforts to advance American knowledge and understanding of Arab culture, societal dynamics, and systems of governance are the Council's flagship education, training, and leadership development programs. These are designed to elevate the leadership skills and empirical Arab-centric educational experiences of the emerging generation of young Americans and Arabs. Upon their shoulders will rest the responsibility for ensuring that the relationships between the American and Arab peoples are continuously strengthened, improved, and sustained far into the future.
Information about the Council can be found at ncusar.org.