My belief that a failing education system is one of the biggest problems faced by many societies is what compelled me to pursue an internship at the Department of Education. Working in the international affairs office (IAO) has offered me the perfect opportunity to combine my two passions: international affairs and education policy.
I have learned more about improving access to a quality education and that education can be an effective tool in eradicating poverty, advancing gender equality, ensuring healthy lives, supporting environmental sustainability, promoting good governance, and enhancing peace and security.
Engaging with numerous organizations such as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Organization of American States (OAS), and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) has provided me with a substantial body of knowledge.
As an intern, I am exposed to the multifaceted ways ED engages with the international community to improve education.
During my first couple weeks, I was able to meet the Chinese Vice Minister of Education and his delegation during a meeting to discuss issues such as student exchanges, K-12 policy development, and higher education collaboration. I also met representatives from the Center for Universal Education, Save the Children, and Women Thrive Worldwide to discuss post-2015 education goals and targets to enhance equitable education for all.
I’ve seen the IAO’s involvement with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the State Department, and the Peace Corps, and I have worked on updating and developing new content for the APEC Education Wiki that spans decades of cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. I believe education initiatives within APEC are particularly important and timely, as President Obama’s “Pivot to Asia” stresses the significance of enhanced partnerships and diplomatic ties in the region. I am so humbled by this experience and I feel as though I’ve already become a more globalized citizen — and this is only the beginning.
Even though I have grown up during a time where Facebook, Twitter, Skype, and smart phones are the norm, I’ve never questioned that we are more interconnected today than ever before. But accepting how inextricably tied we are to each other can be daunting. I can confidently say that interning in the IAO has already strengthened my ties to the world outside of Peachtree Corners, Georgia.
After graduation, I plan to apply for a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Grant in the Asia-Pacific region so I can utilize the skills I am acquiring during my internship within the framework of a totally new education system.
In the long-term, I plan to be a lifelong international nomad in hopes that I can continue to learn about the people and cultures with whom we share this earth. In a society running toward innovation and advancement, there is no telling where we will be decades from now. To quote Secretary Duncan, “expanding educational attainment everywhere is the best way to grow the economic pie for all.”
Wherever we go from here, we’re going together as an interconnected network of nations. I’m excited to see what’s to come.
Rebecca Nasuti is an intern in the International Affairs Office at the U.S. Department of Education.