A Passion for Local and Global Concerns: Interview with Mohamed Alharbi

Mohamed Alharbi, a senior at SUNY New Paltz. Photo: Rozina Zeidan.

Both this fall and last, CIANA has hosted interns from the SUNY Global Engagement Program, where college students complete an internship at a global-oriented organization while completing coursework related to international politics.

Mohamed Alharbi, our case management intern this fall, participated in the GEP, where he worked directly with clients from his first day and engaged with our many Arabic-speaking clients. Mohamed spoke about his experiences interning at CIANA and the GEP with our last year’s GEP legal intern, our current VISTA Micah Dicker.

Micah Dicker: What did you do during your time here at CIANA?

Mohamed Alharbi: I worked as the Case Management Intern under Kim. I helped dozens of clients with various tasks, from basic everyday needs, to building resumes, to finding employment, housing, benefits, or whatever else they may need.

MD: Why were you interested in interning at CIANA? MA: Your advertisement. It was very appealing to the eye and made this organization feel like it made a lot of difference and change on the ground, which it does. That was the main reason I applied. What I want to do is help people who are underprivileged, in poverty or who don’t have the same opportunities that I might have had when I was younger or that I have now. So I came here, and I got to do that, maybe not in the field that I originally intended to do it in. But there are many ways to get to a goal and to finish a job.

MD: Did your own background tie into wanting to work here?

MA: Yes! A big part was when Emira emphasized how we have dozens of clients that speak Arabic, how they have no one to translate for them, and how I am much-needed for this job.

MD: Do you feel that you put your Arabic skills to good use?

MA: Yes, interning here helped me build my Arabic language skills, which is something I wanted to do as well. As time went by, there were more and more and more Yemenis that came in here looking for help, which was cool because my family comes from Yemen.

MD: Were there any cases that stand out in particular as significant?

MA: Probably my first case, where I was immediately sent out on my first day to go escort a client to his citizenship exam.

MD: Overall, what was something that you liked about interning at CIANA?

MA: I liked the relationships that I built with not only my coworkers but the clients, and the connections I made with other organizations that you constantly have to refer to. It was the first step in my professional career and was overall a good time.

MD: How was it balancing the Global Engagement Program with your internship here?

MA: It was pretty difficult. The workload for the GEP is pretty hefty, and it’s a lot of work every single week for the whole semester, and then it only gets harder when it gets towards the end.

MD: What kind of field do you see yourself working in after CIANA?

MA: I either want to be a policy influencer in the UN or a diplomat in the U.S. Foreign Service. I’d also consider doing humanitarian work in Yemen.

MD: That sounds cool. Is there anything else you’d like to add about your experience here at CIANA?

MA: I feel like CIANA has a really strong office chemistry right off the bat, a more friendly environment, and not much conflict.

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