Virtual diplomacy?

The Whitehead School is launching a new program which will allow students to become “e-Interns” for diplomats in foreign countries.

Working from campus, e-Interns will work for diplomacy agencies that are partnered through the U.S. Department of State’s Virtual Student Foreign Service Program.

According to Karen Lynch, director of Internships and Career Development for the Whitehead School, “students in the program will gain greater expertise in the political, economic and social issues of their assigned region.”

“As active citizen diplomats, e-Interns will exchange ideas with their peers in the assigned region using new media,” she said. “They will be assigned to special projects within their region and will coordinate their research or project with a member of the U.S. Embassy or Consular staff.”

As this program is just starting out on campus, Lynch said only five students have been chosen this year. Jonathan Castaneda, a senior Diplomacy major with a Latin American Studies minor, is among them.

“We had to pick three countries that we would most want to work with,” Castaneda said. “I wanted to focus in the Latin American region because it coordinates most with my studies.”

Castaneda said he hopes the internship will give a new view on today’s diplomacy field.

“I’m hoping this experience will help me gain insight into 21st century diplomatic statecraft and a clear understanding of what it takes to be successful in the intricate arena of international politics,” he said.

Christina Fuerst will be working with the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, to promote green initiatives to Dominicans through social media.

“I am honored to be a part of the program as it has created an opportunity I would have never been able to experience as I do not have the time or resources to do an internship abroad in a U.S. embassy,” she said.

Fuerst said all of the new aspects of diplomacy this program has opened for her have broadened her interest in the field more than before.

“I am getting to experience a new area of diplomacy – digital diplomacy, as I am working with outreach programs to the Dominican citizens through Facebook, PowerPoint and web videos,” Fuerst said.

According to Fuerst, her job as an e-Intern only requires 5-10 hours of commitment per week.

“I communicate with my supervisor in Santo Domingo via Skype and e-mail,” Fuerst said. “It works out well, and she is very open to my questions and making sure I learn about life in the embassy besides just doing work to further their work.”

Lynch hopes to evoke the same enthusiasm Fuerst and Castaneda have for this program for years to come at Seton Hall.

“Next year, the length of the VSFS program will expand from one semester to a full academic year,” Lynch said. “Given additional time on the job, students will have the opportunity to realize greater project outcomes and expertise. I expect this will create even more student interest.”

Rawan Eewshah can be reached at

Author: Staff Writer

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