The Mroz Institute’s Global Ambassadors Take on Washington, D.C.

Brandon Eichelberg ’23, Adeline Ríos ’25 and Claire Turner ’24 share their experience as Global Ambassadors for the 2022-23 academic year, and in particular, their field trip to Washington, D.C., funded by the Mroz Global Leadership Institute Global Ambassadors Fund. You can also check out the Global Ambassadors’ Youtube video, where students share about their experiences in Washington, D.C.

Brandon Eichelberg is a recipient of the Johnson-Vest Scholarship.

Adeline Ríos is a recipient of the Casa Hispana Scholarship, International Scholars Program Scholarship, Lucian W. and Peter G. Pinckney Endowed Memorial Scholarship, Boykin Scholarship, Burnet Rhett Maybank Award in Political Science, Beatty Family Scholarship and the Beatty Alumni Scholarship.  

Do you have what it takes for an international career? Do you have the skill set to succeed in the global realm? Prior to joining the Mroz Global Leadership Institute’s Global Ambassadors Program, many of us thought we had the answers. After traveling to Washington, D.C., for a field trip over spring break, we actually did. 

The year-long Global Ambassadors Program allows internationally minded students to explore governmental and non-governmental career opportunities. Our studies included unique interactions with guest speakers, writing foreign service-style memos covering current events abroad, and learning about foreign policy and international theories through the prism of zombie apocalypse. The field trip to Washington, D.C., is often described as the pinnacle of the program – yet in our opinion, this could be the world’s biggest understatement. We brought our newfound, international skill set to the nation’s capital, where we visited non-governmental and governmental organizations, learned about their work, and gained real professional experience through networking. Many of us hope to become tomorrow’s foreign policy leaders, and the trip to Washington was a life-changing opportunity to meet the policy experts of today. 

Our visit began with a tour of one of the most prominent sites in the United States, where many of America’s international decisions are made — the White House. While being led by a Secret Service agent, we strolled through the building’s vast halls and were reminded of the power associated with United States history. Similar sentiments surfaced during our trip to the Pentagon. We met Brigadier General Darrin Slaten for a discussion about the National Guard’s role in maintaining U.S. interests abroad through the State Partnership Program. The program, established in response to the fall of the Soviet Union, plays an integral part in fortifying relationships between the U.S. and fellow partner countries to promote democratic norms. The highlight of our visit to the Pentagon was our meeting with four-star General Daniel R. Hokanson, Chief of the National Guard Bureau, who briefed us on the National Guard’s role in supporting Ukraine against Russia’s aggression. The National Guard has been involved in training the Armed Forces of Ukraine, as well as providing supplies and strategic counsel.  

During our trip to the EU Delegation to the U.S., we spoke with Deniz Houston ’16, a digital economy and technology policy advisor and College of Charleston international studies alumna. The EU Delegation to the U.S. represents the European Union and promotes their policies through academia, media, and business, working closely with local embassies of the EU Member States to maintain a strong relationship between the EU and U.S. Deniz provided us with a unique outlook on international work and showed us non-traditional foreign service career paths.

We continued our exploration of careers with a visit to the German Embassy, which was a highlight for many of us who dream of working in embassies. The architecture of the German Embassy, built within a hill in the 1960s, fascinated us all. We met with Admiral Ristau for a conversation on Germany’s outlook on international affairs, his role at the embassy, and his motorcycle experiences. He highlighted Germany’s foreign policy maxim: never alone, never again. With a lifetime of military expertise, Admiral Ristau provided expert knowledge of military policy and relations regarding the importance of a partnership between the U.S. and Germany.  

We visited the National Endowment for Democracy and the Stimson Center, where we met with researchers and foreign policy experts and gained invaluable career and professional advice. The NED is a non-governmental organization that provides grants to global, national, and grassroots organizations, which promote core elements of democracy. NED’s team members encouraged us to remain flexible, pursue international experience while young, and stay true to our passions. At the Stimson Center, a think tank focused on international prosperity, justice, and security, we conversed with the president and CEO, Brian Finlay, alongside early- and mid-career team members to hear their experiences as recent graduates working in Washington. As young professionals, they emphasized the importance of concise writing, resume building, and networking. By hearing such insight from the Stimson team, we were all encouraged to chase our professional interests. 

In addition to professional visits, we indulged in the unique and diverse culinary scene of the city. The group meals at Uyghur and Ethiopian restaurants revealed new cuisines to most of us. Based on Han Chinese and Turkic cuisines, Uyghur food contains many exciting dishes — from hand-pulled noodles to kidney kebabs to dumplings, along with the artwork around the restaurant, this Central Asian experience impressed everyone. Because of the familial style of Ethiopian cuisine, with its shared platters of stews, curries, and injera, we formed stronger bonds as a group. In our free time, we explored Indian, Guatemalan, and Peruvian cuisines throughout the city. Besides expanding our palates, we explored some of the beautiful sites of the area, such as the Library of Congress, which gave us library cards to their immense catalog of material. We also visited the Arlington Cemetery, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Holocaust Museum and enjoyed the walks on the National Mall. 

After eating, exploring, and learning together, we all discovered something new. This once-in-a-lifetime trip granted us the experience of building a network that we hope to use in the future. We have developed a stronger understanding of our possibilities in international careers, from think tanks and NGOs to embassies and the Pentagon. Besides the critical skills acquired during the trip, such as networking, communication, and the exploration of an unfamiliar environment, we created closer, in-depth connections with each other, which we will cherish throughout our undergraduate and professional careers.