National Council Administers Summer Arab-U.S. Relations Student Educational and Career Development Program

Washington, D.C., U.S.A.: The National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations’ (“National Council” or “Council”) Annual 10-week University Student Summer Internship Program is successfully underway for 2022. It includes professional development opportunities, an academic seminar on the Arab region, and visits to central policymaking institutions in Washington, D.C. The program has resumed its in-person meetings and visits this summer after being administered exclusively online for the past two years. Serving as the lead lecturer and resource specialist for the program is the Council’s Founding President and CEO, Dr. John Duke Anthony.

Students gathered together at George Washington University with National Council President and CEO Dr. John Duke Anthony

Participants in the National Council’s 2022 University Student Summer Internship Program together with Council Founding President and CEO Dr. John Duke Anthony (center front) following a lecture at the George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs. In addition to professional development opportunities, the program includes an academic seminar heavily focused on Arabia and the Gulf as well as visits to a variety of Washington, D.C., institutions with international portfolios.

Twenty-one students and young professionals from as many schools across the United States are taking part in the National Council’s Summer Internship Program. Their backgrounds and areas of study are diverse, representing majors and minors from Mechanical Engineering to Political Science to Economics, Marketing, International Relations, and beyond. Four of the participants are alumni of the Council’s Youth Leadership Development Program / Model Arab League. Council Student Programs Coordinator Katie Grandelli is herself an alumna of that educational activity.

Throughout his presentations, Dr. Anthony has placed a special emphasis on empathy with the Arab and Islamic countries and peoples analyzed and examined. He has simultaneously stressed the need for the development of leadership skills that are vital to success in whatever path the students’ futures take.

Academic Seminar

A core component of the summer’s program is a twice-weekly academic seminar. This feature of the experience has the participants interacting with Dr. Anthony and National Council staff plus an array of internationally renowned scholars on the Arab region, the Middle East, and the Islamic world.

In keeping with recent years, the seminar’s substantive focus is mainly on Arabia and the Gulf. Each session examines one or more facets of this sub-region’s governments and politics in addition to its people’s respective needs, concerns, and interests, and their continuing quests for modernization and development.

Man delivers lecture to students who are taking notes

National Council Founding President and CEO Dr. John Duke Anthony serves as the Lead Lecturer and Resource Specialist for the University Student Summer Internship Program. Dr. Anthony is pictured here delivering a lecture on “Lenses for Learning: Constancy and Change in America’s Interest in the Arab Region” to program participants.

The seminar’s emphasis on critically reading, writing, and assessing the written work of others is an integral part of the curriculum. According to Dr. Anthony, “The goal of improving any facet of the U.S.-Arab relationship, and vice versa, cannot be achieved by accident or coincidence. Rather, the demonstration of the following skills is required: (1) a mastery of the relevant issues, challenges, and opportunities; (2) a capacity to examine, analyze, assess, and organize one’s thoughts rationally and effectively; and (3) the talent for effective oral and, especially, written communication. One among the seminar’s benefits is the opportunity to practice and strengthen all three of these skills.”

To this end, in advance of each session, the students read, critique, and respond to publications written by an array of specialists with first-hand experience in the region. In the process, the participants are able to work quickly and effectively in honing the requisite analytical and writing skills that will serve them well in the future.

Dr. Anthony has emphasized that the program has a special focus on three “E“s: (1) Education about the Arab region, Arabia and the Gulf, United States policymaking, and career opportunities in international affairs; (2) Empirical Experience, with students having the opportunity to hear from and interact with real-life foreign affairs practitioners and others—those who work day-to-day toward the goal of strengthening and expanding the U.S.-Arab relationship at both ends of the foreign relations spectrum; and (3) enhancing students’ ability to harness and practice Empathy as they explore another people’s cultures, economies, societies, structures, and systems of governance.

Opportunities for Growth and Development

Pursuant to providing the interns opportunities to improve their communications and critical thinking skills, the participants get to visit the Executive and Legislative branches of the United States government together with centers of national security policymaking, diplomacy, and international business. The visits introduce the interns to behind-the-scenes views of policymaking processes in Washington, D.C.

A museum curator explains exhibits behind glass cases on one side and women sit in the stands at a ballpark on the other side.

Participants in the National Council’s University Student Summer Internship Program are provided opportunities to explore Washington, D.C., in a less formal manner via films, cultural events, embassy and museum visits, off-the-record conversations, and suggestions for exploring the sights and sounds of the nation’s capital. This summer, program participant activities have included, among others, a guided tour of exhibits at the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center (left) and attending a Washington Nationals Major League Baseball game (right).

Hundreds of American, Arab, and other countries’ emerging leaders are alumni of this program. Some have joined the U.S. or an Arab country’s Foreign Service, or the diplomatic and international affairs institutions of different countries. Others work at various U.S. Executive Branch agencies. Still more work as staff to Members of Congress or Congressional committees dealing with matters of foreign policy. Many others have proceeded to graduate school to obtain their masters degrees or doctorates. Those who have done so have often pursued studying the sub-region, countries, and issues that they researched, analyzed, and wrote about in this National Council program. Still others have become professional foreign affairs journalists or work with multinational corporations. These are just a few of the paths for which the program has served as a springboard.

Leadership in Practice

A highlight of the program participants’ preparation for their future careers is a one-of-a-kind full-day leadership development experience. Occurring midway through the program, the interns are provided a hands-on opportunity to utilize what they have learned up to that point. They assume the positions and roles of real-life diplomats representing individual Arab countries and the Secretariat of the League of Arab States. In so doing, acting in the mirror image of an actual Arab ministerial and heads of state summit, they have a chance to exhibit and apply what they have learned about Arabia, the Gulf, and other parts of the Arab region.

Students in business attire have a group discussion in a classroom

Participants in the National Council’s 2022 University Student Summer Internship Program took part in a one-of-a-kind full-day professional development exercise—the Council’s Youth Leadership Development Program / Model Arab League. There, they were provided an experiential learning opportunity to assume the positions and roles of real-life diplomats representing individual Arab countries of the League of Arab States. In so doing, acting in the mirror image of an actual Arab ministerial and heads of state summit, they had a chance to exhibit and apply what they had learned about the Arab region while also practicing valuable leadership skills that will serve them in whatever path their future takes.

This particular activity is a part of the National Council’s flagship youth educational, training, and leadership development program: the Model Arab League. A key feature of the program is that the participants are provided an opportunity to explore and learn beyond what is typically offered or taught in their university-level academic studies. Through their role-playing as Arab diplomats, the students work at strengthening their public speaking, writing, and editing skills, practice parliamentary procedure, try their hand at drafting resolutions, and learn the art of forming coalitions in support of the policies they believe should receive serious and favorable consideration by their fellow summiteers.

The National Council Needs Your Help

Together with the National Council’s other programs, projects, events, and activities, the Council’s Summer Internship Program is made possible by financial contributions from supporters of the Council’s cross-cultural and bridge-building mission.

To help sustain and grow the National Council’s educational activities, please consider donating to the organization at The Council is recognized as a 501(c)(3) public charity and supporters’ contributions are federally tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.