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2019 Summer Interns

The Susan Casey Brown Fund for McGill was established by Garvin Brown (BA'91) in honour of his mother, Susan Casey Brown.Administered through the Dean’s Office in conjunction with the Faculty of Arts Internship Office, this award is meant to provide partial funding to assist students with travel and other expenses related to their international internship. The Susan Casey Brown Fund for McGill is part of the McGill International Experience Awards. For more information, click here.

The Internship Offices Network is pleased to announce the selected McGill students for the 2019 summer internship at the Permanent Missions of Canada to the International Organizations in Vienna, and the recipients of the Susan Casey Brown Fund for McGill.

Ashton Mathias, BA Honours Political Science

Ashton is pursuing honours in political science, and a double minor in economics and history in the Faculty of Arts. This summer, he will be interning at the Permanent Missions of Canada to the International Organizations in Vienna. As a Policy Intern he will be drafting policy reports relevant for distribution to Ottawa, attending civil society seminars, and editing data related to the IAEA, CTBTO, and UNODC. Ashton hopes this experience will give him more insight into the international legal regime and the foreign services.

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I am writing this letter to express my profound sense of gratitude for Mr. Garvin Brown's establishment and continual funding of the Susan Casey Brown Fund, which is part of the McGill International Experience Awards. This year, your generous support enabled me to spend a summer in Vienna, while interning for the Permanent Mission of Canada to the International Organizations (herein referred to as VPERM).

VPERM is responsible for the management of Canada’s participation and relationship with a host of multilateral organizations all headquartered in Vienna. These organizations include (but are certainly not limited to) the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), as well as various global export control arrangement groups.

In terms of my personal responsibilities, the vast majority of my duties involved attending meetings of the aforementioned organizations, in addition to those of Vienna-based civil-society groups, followed by drafting reports and analysis pieces for distribution to relevant stakeholders in Ottawa. In performing such duties, I not only gained valuable analytical skills while gaining first hand-experience with Canada’s role in global non-proliferation efforts, but I also enabled my superiors to concentrate more intently on crisis issues (ex. Iran’s non-compliance with the JCPOA) at times, allowing Canada’s voice to be fully represented at the table.

There were quite a number of highlights from my summer, but I will briefly mention four. The first was the CTBTO Science & Technology Conference in late June 2019, where over 1000 scientists, journalists, youth, and academics met to discuss the practical scientific and civil applications of the CTBTO IMS Data Centres. There, I was exposed to presentations on the usefulness of the IMS data for disaster preparedness and climate change, and was introduced to influential leaders of the CTBTO Youth Group.

The second such highlight was the IAEA technical briefings, where we received updated and detailed information on the status of Iran’s breaches of the JCPOA, as well as on the latest nuclear safeguards technology. Such briefings greatly increased my knowledge of the nuclear fuel cycle, among other topics.

The third such highlight was the UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) in late May 2019. The side events for the Congress covered a broad range of topics, including the European migrant crisis, and methods for combatting cybercrime and child pornography.

The final such highlight was when I was tasked with drafting the first round of Canada’s Opening Statement to the IAEA General Conference (September 2019). The GC is the pinnacle of Canada’s participation in Vienna as the resolutions drafted at the GC (on personnel issues, areas of investigation) are binding upon the IAEA Secretariat. Being assigned such an important task as a mere policy intern is reflective of the unique opportunities I was afforded this summer, all through the Susan Casey Brown Fund.

Given the sheer number and quality of the conferences and events I was able to attend as part of my time at VPERM, the internship clarified potential future avenues for my career. For one, over the course of my internship, I met with dozens of diplomats from the various missions, in addition to receiving personalized advice from various departments at VPERM. Each of these persons took incredibly different paths to arrive at the place that they were at today, reaffirming that a) the path ahead to entering the Foreign Service, should that end up being my future career, is not a linear one, and b) diligence, humility, integrity, and creativity are among the top traits to possess in any career. Second, the ability to attend various high-profile events, seminars, and conferences spiked my curiosity in a diverse range of fields – namely re: nuclear geopolitics in the Middle East, integration programs of refugees in central Europe, defence arrangements and Russian disinformation campaigns in the Balkans, etc. The internship further underscored the importance of committing to two of my goals to the fullest: a) to learn as many languages as possible (and not just because knowing someone’s native tongue is an easy entry point to a personal connection), and b) to be as informed as possible about the world (my internship inspired me to start learning a lot more about the latest political developments in various countries across Eastern Europe, the Maghreb, and Southeast Asia).

In conclusion, I am extremely, extremely grateful and humbled to be a recipient of the Susan Casey Brown Fund. I have already talked about the benefits of my internship on my personal development, my skills set, my academics, and my career prospects above.

However, on a more primary level, even being afforded the opportunity in general (irrespective of its positive outcomes that I am now benefitting from) is humbling. Being able to walk on the UN grounds, let alone being able to travel to Europe, is something I would have never imagined earlier this year, let alone a decade ago (when my concept of a “big” trip was Quebec City or Niagara Falls). Interns from other Missions were not paid nor did they receive any institutional funding, and so, this internship is generally an experience usually meant for those from a wealthier background. Accordingly, I cannot thank you enough for enabling me to experience what I experienced this summer through your generosity – I will forever remember this summer as I advance in my career.

Ashton Mathias during his internship at the Canadian Permanent Mission to the International Organizations in Vienna.


Elina Qureshi, BA Economics and International Development Studies

Elina Qureshi is currently pursuing a double major in economics and international development in the Faculty of Arts. This summer she will be interning at the Permanent Missions of Canada to the International Organizations in Vienna, Austria. She will have the opportunity to attend meetings and seminars with the UN organizations, write policy reports, and conduct research. She hopes to learn more about Canadian foreign policy through this experience.

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I am deeply grateful for the support of the Susan Casey Brown Award, which is part of the McGill International Experience Awards, provided me this summer as I completed an internship at the Permanent Mission of Canada to the International Organizations in Vienna. As an Economics and International Development students, I have always been interested in multilateralism and foreign policy and this internship enabled me to see these processes from the inside.
The Permanent Mission of Canada in Vienna deals primarily with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN Office for Drugs and Crime, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and several export control agreements. As my interests lie mainly in development, I was able to work on two extremely relevant files- the IAEA’s Technical Cooperation programme, which consists of development projects employing nuclear technology, and the UNODC file, which was concentrated on trafficking and drug control. Later in the summer, I was also able to work with colleagues across the hall at the Canadian Mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, focusing on key security issues such as the Russian annexation of Crimea.
As an intern, I conduct research, draft and deliver statements on behalf of Canada, attend meetings, and provide reports and policy recommendations to colleagues in Ottawa. In addition to being part of shaping and communicating national foreign policy, I have been able to participate in multilateral discussions. This has allowed me to understand both the challenges and the benefits of consensus-based international cooperation. Gaining firsthand experience has been both interesting in an academic sense, and informative for me as a citizen. My academic knowledge was of practical use here. As an Economics student, budget discussions that would otherwise not have been one of the most engaging events, fascinated me. I have a particular interest in international organizations, and I was able to learn about how Member States’ contributions and political positions shaped the Agency’s work from a financial point of view. As a Development student, I was particularly intrigued while carrying out the task of evaluating the Agency’s Technical Cooperation programme.
There were a few moments that stood out for me in particular. The first occurred in my second week, at the UNODC’s annual Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. Canada had introduced and had been negotiating a resolution on cybercrime, and I had been present in the last two weeks of the preparation, observing negotiations, taking notes, editing the text, and keeping the other delegations informed of updates. When the resolution succeeded in being passed, after several months of preparation and many hours of negotiation in the previous days, it felt like a victory for our entire delegation. Another highlight was when I got the privilege of reading a statement on climate change at the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs to a full room of delegations. Advocating for something I am personally passionate about on behalf of Canada and declaring our commitment towards the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals was a remarkable experience. Finally, towards the end of my internship, I was given the responsibility of representing Canada at Treaty negotiations. Without prior guidance, I conveyed Canada’s positions and amendments to the text, responded to other delegations’ questions and concerns, and achieved the outcome that my colleagues in Ottawa had hoped for. Though this was stressful, as I was working with experienced diplomats, it turned out to be one of the most memorable experiences I have had here.
This internship was without a doubt a unique and valuable opportunity. It has certainly had an impact on my future plans. Though diplomacy is crucial to our foreign policy, I have learnt that I am a more results-oriented person, and as such, I want to be able to see my impact. I do hope to work in the foreign service, although in Development. This also involves a certain element of negotiation, but I believe that it will allow me to make more direct change. Personally, I believe this award and the internship I was able to take has impacted me significantly. I am more confident in my ability to adapt quickly, to assess the needs and expectations of others, and to think about long-term impacts and strategies. I have also built upon my ability to take initiative, to ask for clarification, and to reach out to contacts and build on the network of accomplished, dedicated people I have met here. I am immensely grateful for the opportunity I have had to learn and grow.

Elina attending the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty’s Science and Technology conference with colleagues from the Norwegian and American missions.

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