Notes from the Field: Danny Li '19

Danny Li '19 interned at the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training for the 2017 winter term. The following is an excerpt from his internship report.

During this winter I had the opportunity to intern with the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training (ADST) which is an independent nonprofit organization that advances understanding of American diplomacy and supports the training of foreign affairs personnel at the NFATC’s Foreign Service Institute (FSI) through a variety of programs and activities. In a time when national and international relationships and conversations are becoming increasingly polarized and complex, the need for qualified Foreign Service officials has never been greater. ADST not only provides training and development programs to Foreign Service personnel but also serves a critical role in being a public informant on U.S. foreign policy. ADST has several ongoing activities: – The Foreign Affairs Oral History Collection, which grows by some 80 histories per year, conveys the experiences, analyses, knowledge, and wisdom of both career and non-career foreign affairs practitioners. Moreover, ADST provides advice on publishing to serving and former foreign affairs personnel. Almost 80 books have been published in the two series, and more are forthcoming.

As an  ADST  Intern,  I  had  the  opportunity  to  research  and  engage  with distinguished  foreign  scholars,  retired  or  active  Foreign  Service  experts  and  diplomats,  and  foreign policymakers  and  political  leaders  who  are  active  and  influential  in  the  foreign  policy  community.  My responsibilities were  to:  assist  the  organization  in  writing  event  summaries  on  the  ADST  website, interview  and  write  up  interview  summaries,  edit  and  compile  oral  histories  and  book  manuscripts, research  and  monitor  current  regional  and  global  issues  relevant  to  the organization’s  goals,  plan  and facilitate  program  events  with  visiting  Foreign  Service  officials  in  D.C.,   help  with  organizing  and implementation ADST’s events, and update databases and publications. Besides  fulfilling  the  above  responsibilities,  I  was  chosen  to  work  on  a  special  project:  the publication  of  an  e-book  detailing  the  history  of  the  Foreign  Service  Institute.  The  book  was presented  on  March  13th,  2017  to  celebrate  the  70th anniversary of the Foreign Service Institute and American diplomacy.

The experiential opportunities I encountered during my internship at the Foreign Service Institute put to the test the skills and knowledge I learned at Dartmouth and apply them to practical situations. For example, I interviewed the Director of the Foreign Service Institute Ambassador Nancy McEldowney to gather her thoughts on the future of U.S. diplomacy; several of her talking points illuminated themes and concepts that I had learned about and discussed with Professor Michael Mastanduno last term in my U.S. Foreign Policy class. ADST’s location at the National Foreign Affairs Training Center and close proximity to the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) have allowed me to interact with Foreign Service personnel almost daily. On the shuttle ride to FSI, I frequently sit next to Foreign Service officers in training. The stories and world perspectives that they share are truly awe-inspiring. My director is a retired Ambassador who has served in six countries during a twenty-five year career. During my conversations with her, I often find myself connecting her experiences to international relations concepts and events I read and wrote about in my international relations class freshman fall or my comparative politics class last spring. In the long-term, the experiences and wisdom that I learned from the Foreign Service Officers I encountered will help me in my own quest to find the right path for me to conduct public service either through local government or through the Foreign Service.

I have greatly benefitted from my experiences with Rockefeller programs such as D-LAB and MLDP. Participating in D-LAB last year allowed me to reflect and think about leadership in application to work, life, and academics. Thus, I arrived at my internship confident and comfortable in my qualities and skills. Furthermore, I participated in the Management and Leadership Development Program last fall. MLDP equipped me with the tools to succeed in the workplace when interacting with Foreign Service Officers and other government officials. I deeply value the lessons I learned in the program and fully appreciate their impact on my internship experience. As I have accumulated these experiences, I have slowly realized that these learnings build upon one another and strengthen my foundation; this has allowed me to tackle new knowledge and facilitate understanding.