Introducing the 2020 Class of Edmund S. Muskie Interns

WASHINGTON – Cultural Vistas is pleased to announce the 2020 class of Edmund S. Muskie Interns.

This marks the sixth year of the Edmund S. Muskie Internship Program, a summer internship program funded by the U.S. Department of State that provides emerging leaders from Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia with the opportunity to gain real-world experience complementing and enriching their graduate studies in the United States.

Since 1992, the U.S. Department of State has provided thousands of graduate school fellowships for students from across Eurasia in order to build democracies, strengthen the transition to market economies, and establish strong civil societies. Cultural Vistas has built upon that foundation by providing hands-on, professional skill-building opportunities across the United States for nearly 250 graduate students over the last six years.

The class of 2020 brings together 49 graduate students currently studying in the United States through the Fulbright Foreign Student Program. This year’s interns hail from all 12 countries in the region: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

“Belonging to a community of inspired, passionate, and talented individuals is what really defines the Muskie internship for me. It is empowering to realize that Muskie cohort unites so many people who are bound to be the drivers of both local and global change. Each of us comes from a developing democracy, facing its own unique challenges,” ” says Tatsiana Ziniakova, a current participant from Belarus. As Muskie Interns, we all gain experience and confidence to gradually overcome these challenges. Maintaining the sense of solidarity and support in our shared missions (and struggles) is invaluable.

“As an intern at World Justice Project, I am hoping to learn more about bridging non-governmental organizations with the public sector and grassroots movements, making all actors heard and incentivizing them to cooperate. Immensely grateful for the guidance of my experienced supervisors, I am planning to champion the rule of law and respect for human rights on academic and professional platforms.”

#MuskieIntern Goes Virtual: Due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s internship program has transitioned to a remote format and delivery. The quick transition was a team effort between Cultural Vistas, the U.S. State Department, and IIE, that took place earlier this spring.

The Muskie Internship Program’s partner host organizations are not only at the forefront of bringing innovative talent to the U.S. workplace, they also play a critical role in fostering mutual understanding.

The organizations hosting this summer’s interns span a variety of fields and industries and include the Media Education Lab, World Wildlife Fund, Human Rights Watch, the World Bank Group, Voice of America, the Vermont Agency of Education, the International Bar Association, and the University of Tennessee Center for Sport, Peace, and Society, among others.

On the Job at Council Rock (Source): “It’s not every day we are fortunate enough to welcome a commemorative medal recipient from the President of Uzbekistan. Sardorbek Mamadjanov will be with our team through the summer and will be focused on supply chain management. We look forward to his fresh ideas that are sure to spark inspiration and motivation. Ishlarga rivoj!”

The coronavirus pandemic curtailed the original plans for this year’s program, but through coordination earlier this spring between the U.S. Department of State, IIE (implementing partner of the Fulbright program), and Cultural Vistas, a new path forward for the program to continue beginning in a fully virtual format was created.

“Even though my journey is proceeding remotely, my advisers are making every effort to create a productive experience by connecting me with their team through individual and group teleworking, and including me in weekly meetings of the department,” shared Janyl Madykova, an environmental toxicology scholar from Kyrgyzstan who recently began interning with the Atmospheric Chemistry and Modeling department (ACOM) at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

“Since I started my internship I have met enthusiastic and hardworking professionals in atmospheric sciences that are willing to share their knowledge and available for collaboration. It also opens up a possibility for cooperation in the future with the wonderful ACOM team, which will help to find the right direction in mitigation of air pollution issues not only in Kyrgyzstan, but in the Central Asian region as well.”

On May 21-22, the Muskie Internship Program held its virtual orientation seminar to welcome participants and provide them with opportunities to connect with other members of the 2020 class, learn more about the new program requirements, and receive helpful information in preparation for their internship journey.

During May’s two-day virtual orientation, Muskie program alumni around the world, including Oksana Moroz, a 2017 participant and currently a PhD candidate in Composition and Applied Linguistics at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, shared advice and experiences with participants.

The orientation featured an array of guest speakers including State Department representatives from the Office of the Coordinator of the U.S. Assistance and the Office of Central Asia Affairs, the Founder and Executive Director of the Idealist Network, the EducationUSA Regional Educational Advising Coordinator for Europe and Eurasia, an international remote work expert and strategist, and others.

The presentations spanned the history of the Muskie Program, insights into writing policy briefs, remote volunteering, U.S. work culture, tips on working remotely, and best practices for participants to share their internship experience on social media. The group even took part in some online trivia.

Nearly all of the 49 participants have started their summer internship remotely with the aim to transition to in-person work once it is safe to do so.

Day one at Olga Khokhryakova’s dream internship at The Center for Sports, Peace, and Society at the University of Tennessee.

About the Edmund S. Muskie Internship Program
The Edmund S. Muskie Internship has established meaningful connections between Americans and nearly 5,000 emerging Eurasian leaders over the last two-plus decades. Named after the late senator from Maine and preeminent U.S. environmental leader, the original academic program was established by Congress in 1992 following the dissolution of the Soviet Union to help ensure that countries in the region continued healthy economic and democratic growth. This new iteration of the Muskie program provides professional exchange opportunities for current Foreign Fulbright Scholars to continue furthering these goals and promoting collaboration and mutual understanding.

Learn more about the Edmund S. Muskie Internship Program at culturalvistas.org/muskie and follow updates in real time at #MuskieIntern.

Meet the Edmund S. Muskie Internship Program Class of 2020

Asmar Aliyeva, Azerbaijan
Field of Study: Forensic Biology
University: University at Albany, SUNY
Host Organization: University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Biological Sciences

Salome Apkhazishvili, Georgia
Field of Study: Communications
University: University of Southern Indiana
Host Organization: Media Education Lab

Anna Arganashvili, Georgia
Field of Study: Law
University: University of Texas at Austin
Host Organization: World Justice Project

Inga Banshchikova, Russia
Field of Study: Public Policy
University: Oregon State University
Host Organization: World Wildlife Fund, U.S. Arctic Program

Elizaveta Belova, Russia
Field of Study: Biomedical Engineering
University: Temple University
Host Organization: Fox Chase Cancer Center

Levan Berianidze, Georgia
Field of Study: Public Administration
University: Arizona State University
Host Organization: OutRight Action International

Olena But, Ukraine
Field of Study: Anthropology
University: Northern Arizona University
Host Organization: Homes Not Borders

Natalia Davlianidze, Georgia
Field of Study: Geography
University: Ohio University
Host Organization: FutureEarth

Natia Gaprindashvili, Georgia
Field of Study: Education
University: Northern Illinois University
Host Organization: Northern Illinois University, Division of Student Affairs

Mariam Guniava, Georgia
Field of Study: International Relations
University: Fordham University
Host Organization: Institute for Conscious Global Change

Eteri Gvritishvili, Georgia
Field of Study: Law
University: University of Colorado, Boulder
Host Organization: Human Rights Watch

Viktoriia Ishchenko, Ukraine
Field of Study: International Law
University: University of Texas at Austin
Host Organization: National Energy Services Reunited Corp.

Aidar Ismailov, Kyrgyz Republic
Field of Study: Education
University: Syracuse University
Host Organization: Syracuse University, Instructional Design, Development, and Evaluation Department

Roman Ivasiy, Ukraine
Field of Study: Public Health
University: Georgia State University
Host Organization: George Washington University, LGBT Health Policy & Practice Graduate Certificate Program

Davit Janunts, Armenia
Field of Study: Education
University: Lehigh University
Host Organization: Lehigh University, College of Education

Rinat Kapev, Russia
Field of Study: International Relations
University: North Carolina State University
Host Organization: World Bank Group

Mekan Karayev, Turkmenistan
Field of Study: International Law
University: Penn State Dickinson Law
Host Organization: Penn State Dickinson Law, Office of Non-J.D. Programs

Ramil Kazimov, Azerbaijan
Field of Study: International Relations
University: Texas A&M, College Station
Host Organization: The Middle East Institute, Frontier Europe Program

Marina Khachatryan, Armenia
Field of Study: Business
University: Rochester Institute of Technology
Host Organization: ServiceTitan

Olga Khokhryakova, Russia
Field of Study: Public Health
University: University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
Host Organization: The Center for Sports, Peace, and Society at the University of Tennessee

Vladyslav Klymchuk, Ukraine
Field of Study: Filmmaking
University: Ohio University
Host Organization: CreateCulture

Alina Komisar, Ukraine
Field of Study: Arts Administration
University: Indiana University, Bloomington
Host Organization: Palacio, Inc.

Janyl Madykova, Kyrgyz Republic
Field of Study: Environmental Toxicology
University: Texas Southern University
Host Organization: National Center for Atmospheric Research, ACOM Laboratory

Sardorbek Mamadjanov, Uzbekistan
Field of Study: Business
University: Lehigh University
Host Organization: Council Rock Enterprises, LLC

Ana Mazmishvili, Georgia
Field of Study:  Public Administration
University: Texas A&M, College Station
Host Organization: The Center for Growth and Opportunity at Utah State University

Sarmat Misikov, Russia
Field of Study: Journalism
University: University of Nevada, Reno
Host Organization: Voice of America, VOA News Center

Anna Mytcul, Russia
Field of Study: Architecture
University: SUNY at Buffalo
Host Organization: Higharc, Inc.

Kamala Nasirova, Azerbaijan
Field of Study: Education
University: St. Michael’s College
Host Organization: Vermont Agency of Education

Ivan Nichitenko, Russia
Field of Study: International Economics
University: Valparaiso University
Host Organization: Peanut Butter, Inc.

Yuliia Popyk, Ukraine
Field of Study: International Relations
University: Syracuse University
Host Organization: United States Institute of Peace

Olena Protsenko, Ukraine
Field of Study: Law
University: Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis
Host Organization: University of Virginia Institute of Law, Psychiatry and Public Policy

Antonina Rakhmatova, Azerbaijan
Field of Study: Educational Psychology
University: Mississippi State University
Host Organization: The Sunshine Method

Olga Romanova, Kazakhstan
Field of Study: Natural Resources
University: University of Missouri-Columbia
Host Organization: The United Nations Office for Project Services, GEF Small Grants Programme

Nurbek Sabirov, Kyrgyz Republic
Field of Study: Law
University: University of Cincinnati
Host Organization: International Bar Association

Galina Seregina, Russia
Field of Study: Law
University: University of Cincinnati
Host Organization: University of Cincinnati, College of Law

Demetre Shanshiashvili, Georgia
Field of Study: Computer Science
University: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Host Organization: re: Charge-e, Inc.

Anna Shchetinina, Russia
Field of Study: Public Health
University: University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Host Organization: Proof Alliance

Olga Shermadini, Georgia
Field of Study: Law
University: Wake Forest University
Host Organization: International Foundation for Electoral Systems

Aizhan Smagulova, Kazakhstan
Field of Study: Education, Counselling
University: Ohio University
Host Organization: The Sunshine Method

Aleksandr Strekalov, Russia
Field of Study: Sustainable Energy Systems
University: SUNY Cortland
Host Organization: Texas Solar Integrated, LLC

Mirbek Sydygaliev, Kyrgyz Republic
Field of Study: International Law
University: University of Washington
Host Organization: University of Washington School of Law

Lutfullo Tagoev, Tajikistan
Field of Study: Education
University: Syracuse University
Host Organization: Hyland Software, Education Services Department

Shushanna Tevanyan, Armenia
Field of Study: Peace and Justice
University: University of San Diego
Host Organization: The Partnership for Public Service

Anastasia Trofimenco, Moldova
Field of Study: Data Science
University: Texas Tech University
Host Organization: Texas Tech University, Rawls College of Business

Vladimir Vakhter, Russia
Field of Study: Electrical and Computer Engineering
University: Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Host Organization: Cadence

Xeniya Volkova, Kazakhstan
Field of Study: Educational Technology
University: Lehigh University
Host Organization: Lehigh University, College of Education & Human Resources Department

Karina Zaiets, Ukraine
Field of Study: Journalism
University: University of Missouri-Columbia
Host Organization: USA Today

Zhanna Zakirzianova, Russia
Field of Study: Urban Studies
University: Fordham University
Host Organization: ONE Architecture and Urbanism, Inc.

Tatsiana Ziniakova, Belarus
Field of Study: International Law
University: Wake Forest University
Host Organization: World Justice Project