During CentreTerm 2020, politics major John Anderson ’20 (Cheraw, South Carolina) took advantage of two aspects of the Centre Commitment—study abroad and an internship—and spent the three-week term working at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Most of the work Anderson did with USAID consisted of researching economic development in Ethiopia. His research had three objectives.
“Ethiopia, according to USAID, is a regional economic success story,” Anderson said, explaining his objectives. “I want to find out how true this really is. To find this out, I set out to analyze the economic development of Ethiopia, not just on the national level but also on a regional level. Are some parts of Ethiopia receiving proportionally more funding for economic development? Who is providing funding? Is one particular region a success story to the extent that it classifies Ethiopia as a holistic success story when on the ground that is not true?”
Anderson’s second objective focused on the following questions: What is the U.S. foreign policy and what role does it play in Ethiopia? What programs are working in boosting economic development there? How closely are international organizations such as USAID working with local Ethiopian organizations?
Lastly, he wanted to learn what it is like to be a foreign service officer (FSO), specifically the day-to-day aspects of the career.
“I am interested in potentially pursuing a career in the foreign service, so seeing what kind of work foreign service agents do will help me determine my future career goals,” Anderson said.
Throughout his Centre experience, Anderson said he has focused his efforts toward studying African affairs.
“Whenever possible, whether in a science class or a history class, I try to tailor research papers and projects toward African affairs when appropriate,” he added. “I have also lived in South Africa and have spent a lot of time in southern Africa and wanted to experience a different part of the continent. I am also interested in economic development, which is the main purpose of USAID.
“This past summer, I had an internship in Japan, on behalf of the South Carolina Department of Commerce, that focused on economic development in South Carolina through foreign direct investment,” he continued. “This internship with USAID is similar to my previous internship, because it focused on a wide array of industries to bring regional economic development.”
Anderson also points to his first-year studies course, “Exceptional Ethiopia” as being impactful. The class was taught by Lori Hartmann, Frank B. and Virginia B. Hower Professor of International Studies and interim director of the Center for Global Citizenship, and Mulat Zinabu, who was a former co-worker of Hartmann when she was a Fulbright Scholar at Wollo University in Dessie, Ethiopia.
“This course focused on Ethiopian politics, economics and culture—all of which inspired and prepared me to research economic development in Ethiopia through USAID,” Anderson said. “It also marked one of the times when I was most impressed with Centre because the College put forth the effort to send Mulat Zinabu Assefa from Ethiopia to come co-teach an excellent class for only seven students. This shows Centre’s commitment toward ensuring that all of its student have unique learning opportunities.”
Researching Ethiopian economic development at USAID has provided Anderson with a better understanding of America’s role in aiding underdeveloped countries and the struggles those countries face. Anderson said this internship has also given him insight on life as a FSO.
“Living in Ethiopia for four weeks provided me a unique and first-hand onsite experience that would not have been possible by researching just from the U.S.,” he added. “Since I am interested in pursuing a career in the foreign service, this internship has also been beneficial to me, because I now have more realistic expectations about life as a FSO.”
by Kerry Steinhofer
February 27, 2020
Header photo: John Anderson ’20 visits the Dallol in the Danakil Depression during his internship in Ethiopia.