News

Introducing the 2021 Class of Edmund S. Muskie Interns

WASHINGTON (June 16, 2021)– Cultural Vistas is pleased to announce the 2021 class of Edmund S. Muskie Interns. This group of participants will be the seventh cohort since the program’s start in 2014.

The Edmund S. Muskie Internship Program is a summer internship program funded by the U.S. Department of State. It 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 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 300 graduate students over the last seven years.

“Every year, the Muskie Program brings together people who are very similar and at the same so different. We are all from post-Soviet countries, decades ago bounded by some utopian ideas and then separated by numerous political, economic, and legislative conflicts. What unites us today is the passion for future success and positive changes that we are to bring to the modern world – the world that certainly needs a new generation of empowered leaders with nontrivial ideas for the sustainable development of our society,” said Anton Boltachka, a 2021 Muskie Intern from Belarus working with the World Bank Group over the summer.

The 2021 program cohort brings together 37 current graduate students studying in the United States through the Fulbright Foreign Student Program. Our 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.

The Muskie Internship Program holds a partnership with a multitude of host organizations that are at the forefront of bringing innovative talent to the U.S. workplace and play a critical role in fostering mutual understanding. The organizations hosting this summer’s interns span various fields and industries. They include the United States Institute of Peace, Future Earth, Wisconsin Watch, Georgetown University Medical Center, Birds Nest Foundation, Council Rock, Inc., and the Wilson Center.  This year the Muskie program is happy to continue collaborating with numerous host companies from previous years and establish new partnerships with organizations. These new partners include the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, and the American Councils for International Education.

Katherine Scodova, Regional Educational Advising Coordinator for EducationUSA in Europe and Eurasia, discusses the importance of cross-cultural communication and highlights some vital aspects of U.S. work culture.

Jakhongir Azimov, a member of the 2021 program cohort, is a journalist from Uzbekistan who will be interning at public relations and media strategy company, Reimagine Media. Reimagine Media focuses on the solutions that people and organizations bring to their local communities regarding health, the environment, women empowerment, and technology.

“Essentially, I will be writing long-form stories that celebrate people, especially women, who found courage and strength to bring solutions to the people during the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Azimov. “I am excited to elevate my storytelling skills and explore ways journalists can help point at solutions.”

As we continue to navigate the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the Muskie Program team worked diligently to organize and execute the 2021 program orientation in a virtual format. This year’s virtual orientation seminar took place on May 20-22, welcoming participants to connect with fellow cohort members and engage with exciting sessions and guest speakers. Throughout the orientation, participants learned more about summer program requirements and were involved in hands-on sessions in preparation for their three-month summer internships. In addition, the Program team was pleased to welcome a variety of guest speakers, including U.S. Department of State representatives and the EducationUSA Regional Educational Advising Coordinator for Europe and Eurasia.

This year’s presentations covered the rich history of the Muskie Program and Cultural Vistas and included a detailed informational session about writing policy briefs. Additionally, Muskie participants were informed about volunteer opportunities in their host communities available throughout the summer. They also had the chance to learn more about the nonprofit sector and learn about volunteering in the United States from Mary Beth Healy, the Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer of the Capital Area Food Bank. To headline the event, we welcomed David Siegel, the CEO of Meetup, who discussed U.S. work culture, networking, and “the loneliness pandemic” that has accompanied the coronavirus pandemic.

Mary Beth Healy, the Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer of the Capital Area Food Bank talks about food insecurity in the U.S. and provides volunteering resources to participants.

Mariam Gamdlishvili, a 2021 Muskie Program participant from Georgia, will be interning at the Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communications at George Washington University and looks forward to the opportunity to work for her dream university.

“The Muskie Internship [Program] not only provides us with an excellent chance to engage with American companies and organizations,” says Gamdlishvili, “but to grow as individuals, learn more about the U.S. working culture and become world-class professionals with highly developed global competency and understanding.”

Learn more about the Edmund S. Muskie Internship Program at culturalvistas.org/muskie and follow real-time social media updates through our program hashtags: #MuskieFellows, #ExchangeOurWorld, #ExchangeAlumni, #MuskieIntern, and #CulturalVistas.

About the Edmund S. Muskie Internship Program

The Muskie Program 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.

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Meet the Edmund S. Muskie Internship Program Class of 2021

Gunel Alasgarova, Azerbaijan
Field of Study: Education
University: Kent State University
Host Organization: Code Ninjas

Akbota Ashirbek, Kazakhstan
Field of Study: Aerospace
University: Arizona State University
Host Organization: Massachusetts Department of Transportation

Akmalidin Asoev, Tajikstan
Field of Study: Public Health
University: Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Host Organization: Southern Illinois Healthcare – Continuous Improvement Department

Yslam Atayev, Turkmenistan
Field of Study: Education
University: Saint Cloud State University
Host Organization: The Saint Cloud State University Writing Centers and Center for International Studies

Jakhongir Azimov, Uzbekistan
Field of Study: Journalism
University: University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
Host Organization: Reimagine Media

Aidana Bauyrzhan, Kazakhstan
Field of Study: Engineering
University: University of New Mexico
Host Organization: National Regulatory Research Institute

Anton Boltachka, Belarus
Field of Study: Economics
University: American University
Host Organization: The World Bank Group

Diana Butsko, Ukraine
Field of Study: Political Science
University: Southern Illinois University
Host Organization: Wisconsin Watch

Silvia Chalkou, Moldova
Field of Study: Marketing
University: Bentley University
Host Organization: Council Rock Inc.

Oleksandra Chuprina, Ukraine
Field of Study: Arts
University: University of Illinois at Chicago
Host Organization: Public Media Institute

Olga Dubey, Ukraine
Field of Study: Biology
University: University of Iowa
Host Organization: Shepherd Center

Mariam Gamdlishvili, Georgia
Field of Study: Communications
University: University of Southern Indiana
Host Organization: Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication at the George Washington University

Aytan Garayusifova, Azerbaijan
Field of Study: Public Health
University: The University of Washington School of Public Health
Host Organization: International Training Center and Education for Health

Lesman Ghazaryan, Armenia
Field of Study: Economics
University: Vanderbilt University
Host Organization: The World Bank Group and The Wilson Center

Mykhailo Ivashchenko, Ukraine
Field of Study: Computer Science
University: University of Nebraska – Lincoln
Host Organization: Department of Computer Science and Engineering at University of Nebraska – Lincoln

Elvira Kalmurzaeva, Kyrgyzstan
Field of Study: Public Administration
University: Texas A&M University, College Station
Host Organization: The Oxus Society for Central Asian Affairs

Anastasiia Kulikalova, Ukraine
Field of Study: Film
University: Ohio University
Host Organization: CreateCulture Inc.

Ala Marciuc, Moldova
Field of Study: Education
University: Binghamton University
Host Organization: American Councils for International Education

Tigran Margaryan, Armenia
Field of Study: Computer Science
University: Stevens Institute of Technology
Host Organization: DeepCast, LLC

Vitaliy Nabukhotny, Ukraine
Field of Study: Law
University: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Host Organization: United States Institute of Peace

Stepan Pikul, Ukraine
Field of Study: Geology
University: Michigan Technological University
Host Organization: Michigan Technological University

Mariia Plotnikova, Ukraine
Field of Study: Fine Arts
University: School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Host Organization: High Concepts Lab

Niko Rekhviashvili, Georgia
Field of Study: Business
University: Arizona State University
Host Organization: The Routing Company

Hayasa Tahmazyan, Armenia
Field of Study: International Relations
University: Ohio University
Host Organization: Blumont, Inc.

Zhanar Tostubayeva, Kazakhstan
Field of Study: Education
University: Lehigh University Graduate College of Education
Host Organization: Summit Camp

Daviti Tsintsadze, Georgia
Field of Study: Music
University: Northeastern University
Host Organization: Neste Live!

Mariami Tsiskarashvili, Georgia
Field of Study: Economics
University: Tulane University
Host Organization: Columbia Law School

Akbar Vokhidov, Uzbekistan
Field of Study: Law
University: University at Buffalo
Host Organization: Greenberg Traurig, LLP

Illia Yakovenko, Ukraine
Field of Study: Arts
University: Portland State University
Host Organization: The City Repair Project

Georgi Zohrabyan, Armenia
Field of Study: Environmental Sciences
University: State University of New York
Host Organization: Future Earth