Jamie Bergstrom '15

Monday, March 6, 2017

I am a rising junior double majoring in AMES and ICS with a concentration in the Middle East; I am also pursuing a certificate in the study of Ethics. My freshman and sophomore years at Duke featured international travel to Egypt, Turkey, Israel and Palestine. These travels grew out of my studies—of the Middle East, global governance and human rights—and allowed me to participate in immersive research. One such research opportunity was through the DukeImmerse LEAPED (the Law, Ethics, and Political Economy of Displacement) Program, in which I examined international displacement with Iraqi refugees living in Egypt.

Through two internships this summer, I am expanding my experience of the Middle East and refugee populations. I am currently interning in Southfield, Michigan with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, one of the nation’s largest civil rights organizations. One of our goals is to improve Islamic accommodations in various institutions, such as workplaces, schools and hospitals. My current work approaches this goal by increasing understanding and dialogue. By writing detailed guides for distribution in these settings, we provide an introduction to Islam, necessary accommodations (such as offering halal food and prayer space, as well as accepting differences in attire), and legal precedents outlining the need for such cooperation.

My other internship this summer is a research position with the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services in Dearborn, Michigan. This organization primarily works with resettled Iraqi refugees, of whom the highest US percentage live in the Metro-Detroit area. Refugees can face many barriers related to language, finding employment, and navigating public services. My primary work in this context is collecting and analyzing local and national research and statistics for a concept paper aimed at local politicians, which will explain the needs of the population and relevant information. I also work on internal research, grant-writing and assistance with presentations to policy makers.

This summer was not limited to professional experiences through internships. My coursework at Duke to date has exposed me not only to culture and language but also to the global connections between nations and politicized international relations. Building on such classroom experiences, I participated in the Summer School on International Diplomacy through the United Nations Institute on Research and Training. This program, hosted at UN headquarters in New York, connected me with a multitude of professionals ranging from ambassadors to international lawyers and professors. The curriculum included speakers, a private tour of the United Nations as well as informative skills-building workshops on negotiations and resolution-writing. The program also included a session dedicated to UN research and projects in multilateral diplomacy. I am now working on a research project on opium production in Afghanistan.

In addition to my experiences at the UN, I am also taking a national and international security law course offered by the Duke Law School Summer Institute on Law and Policy in Washington, DC. This course has served as a brief introduction to law school, and it has clarified my understanding of national security in the legal sense. I am currently writing my paper on Homeland Security and refugee populations.

This summer has been filled with opportunities to learn, grow and explore. Continuing this trend, I decided to pursue another immersive educational experience for my junior year. I am excited to participate in a study-away program this coming fall in New York City at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts. I will explore the Iranian revolution through social and artistic activism. Collaborating with an Iranian artist, I will work on my own art project to elucidate the understanding of social rights in Iran. This coming semester will integrate art, the Middle East, and professional work, and I look forward to continuing my varied studies as an ICS major at Duke.