As my junior year as a Political Science and International Studies double major drew to an end, the search for my first internship commenced. With the COVID-19 epidemic severely impacting and restricting job opportunities and educational experiences, my expectations of finding an internship were bleak. I was set to participate in the University of California Washington D.C. Internship Program and was tasked with securing an internship for the fall quarter. With my regional focus being in Africa and the Middle East, I began researching organizations specialized in Middle East politics. When the National Council on United States-Arab Relations appeared in my search bar, I knew it was exactly what I was looking for. Michael Ader, the Student Programs Coordinator, was quick to provide me with information regarding the fall internship cycle when everything seemed uncertain. While he didn’t know what the future held for the fall, he offered me the opportunity to participate in the Council’s Summer Scholar Internship Program. The ten-week program was designed to provide interns with academic and professional development opportunities while conducting research on the Arab Gulf countries and the Middle East. Dr. John Duke Anthony, along with several experienced guest speakers, presented energizing and specialized academic seminars to supply us with invaluable information regarding the Gulf states, the Middle East, and the role of the United States in the region. Our research was then supplemented  through the composition of analytical pieces of writing regarding a multitude of topics. 

My overall experience with the council provided me with the occasion to bolster my intelligence and understanding of the Arab world from a perspective outside my own as a Syrian-American. The National Council granted me the chance to interpret the cultural, economic, and political distinctions among Arab states, in addition to the examination of the United States and the complexities of its relations with Arab states. The Summer Scholar Internship Program presented me an amazing opportunity to broaden my horizons and discover more about international affairs from new perspectives, and allowed me to further embed myself within my career interests. Although I participated remotely, Michael and the Council worked hard to provide us with the full Washington experience as best they could. After all, there is no better environment for education about the many roles of our government than at the main headquarters of the institution itself. The intellectual challenge, professional development, and cultural exploration supplied by the National Council allowed me to build upon the academic and social expertise that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. The skills learned and connections made were surely worthwhile, and are considered as investments in my career in international relations and political science. 

Nora Beik is an undergraduate political science and international studies major at UCI. In addition to her time with UCDC, she has been an active participant in the UCI Diversity, Inclusion and Racial Healing Ambassador Program and in the School of Social Sciences Dean's Ambassadors Program. 

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