Campus News

Internships allow undergrads to see international training firsthand

UGA students Jess Johnson and Zachary Smith received internships this summer in the Sino-American Joint Training Program coordinated by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government’s International Center for Democratic Governance. The internships are sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach.

In June, Johnson and Smith spent two weeks in Beijing and Nanchang, China, as members of the training program delegation. They helped the program coordinators organize the agenda for the training and could interact with the municipal official-trainees.

“We felt it was important to design an intern experience that would give the participants both an understanding of what is involved to make a program like this work and the value of international collaborative efforts,” explains ICDG faculty member Peter Gess. “Jess and Zach left China with a better understanding of its governance, history, and culture.”

Johnson and Smith are both third-year students in the School of Public and International Affairs. A native of Snellville, Johnson is double-majoring in political science and sociology. He is president of the China Information Network, a student group that arranges for China experts to come to UGA. He is particularly interested in China’s economy and plans a career as a China or Asia analyst in the federal government. Smith, who is from Lilburn, is a Foundation Fellow who is double-majoring in international affairs and Chinese studies. He has focused on Chinese literature, history and religion and hopes to earn a doctorate in Chinese political science and introduce Chinese study programs at major universities.

ICDG recently celebrated the fifth anniversary of its joint training program with Beijing Administrative College. Approximately 100 municipal civil servants from Beijing have participated in the annual instructional experience, which consists of three weeks of public administration classes followed by a two-week study-tour of the United States.

ICDG also provides similar training programs in other provinces around China. This year, for the second time, ICDG collaborated with the Jiangxi Administrative Institute in Nanchang. Instructors are always a mix of academic faculty and government professionals, says Gess.

The June training was provided by Rusty Brooks, ICDG; Wes Clarke, Vinson Institute; Jerry Legge, SPIA; Wendy Ruona, department of lifelong learning, administration, and policy; Sean Brandon, City of Savannah; and Tom Berry, City of Monticello.