Thursday, January 12, 2012

J-Term at Sagamore

My school, Covenant Christian High School, offers a January Term or J-Term where juniors
and seniors can go into the “real” world and pursue an internship. I was unsure
of what I wanted to do, but I eventually just settled on the Sagamore Institute
because it sounded fun. Starting out my internship at the Sagamore Institute, I
didn’t quite know what to expect.

The internship soon exceeded my expectations. First off, Sagamore is located in the
Levey Mansion and just spending time in this historic building was an
experience that many people don’t get to pursue often. I learned more during my two weeks at the Sagamore Institute than I learn in the majority of my semester or yearlong classes. Most importantly, I learned a lot about developmental economics, the conditions of poverty, and African economic development. I value this because I am deeply interested in becoming a
Developmental Economist, possibly focusing on African development. My
internship not only allowed me to pursue and learn more about this occupation,
but it also reconfirmed my desire to pursue it. Whether I was learning about
the myriad of issues and causes of poverty or writing my research analysis on
the US-Rwanda Bilateral Investment Treaty, I was continually engaged. It was
also cool to work in the “real” world and actually do something that could be
impactful, instead of arduous memorization of mundane facts.

I also enjoyed interacting with the people that I met during my internship experience.
Whether I was listening to them tell of their adventures in foreign countries
or discussing my research and learning with them, it was a productive and
interesting use of time.

The Sagamore Institute and my internship experience will continue to have profound
impact on my life as it has helped shaped my desire for being a developmental
economist and has my view of development/poverty. As I continue my education in
college and begin my career, my two weeks at Sagamore will stay with me and continue
to shape my perspective on developmental economics; it truly has been a life changing experience.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

From Singapore Intern Timothy Thong

Spending 2 weeks at Sagamore institute has been an experience like no other. The experience I have gained, both social and intellectual, will no doubt stay with me through the rest life. My main project during my stay at Sagamore was to investigate how Singapore could be used as an effective development model for African nations. Being from Singapore, my background gave me an advantage in tackling this task.

However, not all my time at Sagamore was spent on this one specific objective. On Thursday, my supervisor Donald Cassell introduced me to his fellow Sagamore colleague, Larry Ingraham who then took me to the city of Muncie to see the mayor of Muncie as well as the city’s president of the chamber of commerce. The mayor was interested in my academic life but we did touch briefly on some of the positive policies of Singapore. But because of  the approaching elections and the vast amount of work any mayor must have, the time I spent with her was short. On the other hand, my time with the president of the chamber of commerce was much longer. I learned a lot about the economic problem and aims of the city’s leaders from the president of the chamber of commerce.  We talked about how a small city like Muncie managed to attract foreign direct investment. One particularly interesting method was how they use US citizenship as a carrot for foreign investors. As long as investors spent anywhere between half a million to a million dollars supporting 10 US workers for 3 years, they would be granted US citizenship.

Upon my return to Sagamore Institute from Muncie, I attended an alumni reception for Eureka College. I learned there that confidence was key. I spent that Thursday night pondering over the concept of confidence, not understanding why one would think confidence was a superlative piece of skill. Only after 2 weeks did I realize the truth of his words.

All my experiences at Sagamore can hardly fit into words. Besides learning more about the history of my own home country as well the vast developmental problems facing Africa, I also learned basic social skills of communication and have grown more confident. I do not think I have ever shaken so many hands in my life, or talked to so many people I have never met. Sagamore did not just develop my mind; it also developed my social spirit.

Now, back in tropical Singapore, the most valuable asset I brought back from my 2 weeks in Sagamore was confidence. I now meet new people without fear of sounding ignorant or tedious; I can now look at people straight in the eye from beginning to end. It is this confidence that is important in the world we live in now, where social skills are of utmost importance. One must have the confidence to meet new people, to question mistakes, and ultimately learn from any shortcomings.

Sagamore has been an unforgettable experience and has shaped my life, at least for the near future.

Thank you Sagamore.  

Friday, August 12, 2011

Sad Day

        It is my last day here at the Sagamore Institute in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Words cannot even begin to explain the experience I have had during my time here.  It has been hard for me to realize that I am actually leaving this place.  When you are living somewhere for a month or so you begin to develop an understanding of your surroundings.  If you like what you are surrounded by, you begin to identify with it.  That is what Indy and the Sagamore Institute has done for me.  I truly love this place and everyone who works here and contributes to the think-tank's mission.  I have grown to fit in very well with every here at Sagamore and I have no intentions of breaking any of these relationships even when I return to Eureka.

       I have had a different feeling leaving this place that I cannot describe but I know that this experience, even though it was only five weeks, has been one of the most profound experiences in my life.  I have learned a lot from genuine people in how to interact with others and how to be a leader.  I also feel I have learned a lot that I have not yet accessed.  I cannot explain the feeling but I know I am taking a lot more out of the Sagamore Institute than I put in; although I plan to continue my efforts in helping Sagamore in any way I can.

        This place was special.  Even as an intern you are given important tasks that actually matter and are usually specialized to exactly what you are interested in.  My Assignment Detroit project is now nine single-spaced, 11 font, pages long and I have not even spoke on my personal reflections of the project.  Who would have known I would get an assignment that is dealing with exactly what I am interested in?  I also wrote a piece on the nonprofit sector in Elkhart, IN, another city that has been devastated by the economy.  That piece was published in a booklet for the Office Depot Foundation and it is now a two page spread and I was able to see a copy of the booklet.  I believe they will send me a copy when Jay returns with extras.  On top of all that Wes and Jay wanted me to create a discussion for the Detroit project and I have been working on that this week and it should become a web feature for Sagamore's website in the near future.    The opportunities here are endless.

       It still feels weird that I am leaving today but I have confidence that I will stay in contact with Sagamore and be able to contribute to the Institute.  I have also met some good friends here.  One of the interns will become a friend who I will keep in contact with for time to come.  We have shared some good experiences during my time here at Sagamore.  My roommates were also very good guys and I am glad I was able to foster a good relationship with them; especially since they work for the National sector of my fraternity... Despite that being true I still believe we have created a genuine friendship that will prove to endure over time. 

 Being here in Indianapolis reminds me of how great the Midwest really is.  I have lived in Michigan and Illinois and now I will always consider Indiana another home to me.

Thanks for following us interns at the Sagamore Institute, 
Brent Glass

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Summer Internship Experience

By Intern Tierney Beck:

This summer I have spent a great deal of time on writing a series of articles in collaboration with my supervisor, Donald Cassell. These articles express the connection between Liberia and Indiana. Before coming to Sagamore I had no idea that various communities in Indiana were so involved in aiding Liberia, including my very own Indiana University. I enjoyed learning and sharing what I learned with others by publishing those articles on the Sagamore website. It has allowed me to improve both my writing skills and my knowledge of development in Liberia.

My favorite part of the internship was meeting Ambassador Bull, the U.S. Ambassador to Liberia. This event allowed me to see that the work I was doing was being heard by someone and appreciated. The lunch and learn seminars were all great learning experiences for me as well. Who would have thought I would ever sit in Jim Morris’ suite at Conseco Fieldhouse? Each speaker we met at the lunch and learn seminars provided me with insight. David Helmer provided a great method for achieving success and completing your goals. His example of turning something so simple into a thriving business was inspiring.

I will walk away from this internship with a greater understanding of just how a think tank works. I was skeptical at how much influence an institution such as Sagamore has on policy. But now I can see that without Sagamore many plans and ideas may not jump off the rug. Sagamore has created awareness and is working to make changes by following through with ideas. Those ideas are made tangible and I enjoyed watching changes being made right in front of my eyes. Sagamore provided me with a great opportunity this summer, and I am so grateful. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

In Jim Morris & Larry Bird's suite at the Fever game: Erin, Tierney, Cassie, and Brian
Jim Morris (President of the Indiana Pacers & Fever), Brent, Tierney, Brian, Erin, Cassie, and Donald Cassell

Summer at the Sag

As a second time intern at Sagamore (having been an intern in January), I had some expectations about what my summer would be like. I loved my first experience here, and was thrilled to be doing actual research and contributing to the work of such an important institution. No intern grunt work here! Even so, this summer rose above and beyond what I had anticipated - an internship at Sagamore has to be one of the best internships around!

By far, one of the best and most exciting parts of being an intern was the Lunch and Learn program. Once a week, we would enjoy a lunch generously paid for by Sagamore and engage in discussions with Senior Fellows, board members, special guests, and one another. We were given challenging, thought-provoking materials to read and watch, then discuss them or listen to a lecture from one of our distinguished guests. It was really a pleasure to have this time designed specifically to encourage our curiosity and learning, and while it was definitely enjoyable, I think it also served to aid us in our research and work for Sagamore. Some of the most outstanding Lunch and Learn experiences were a trip to an Indianapolis Fever game and meeting with Jim Morris, a two-part visit with David Helmer, and a reading of the Theories of Moral Sentiments by Adam Smith. I really enjoyed learning from these people, and engaging in meaningful dialogue with my fellow interns, Sagamore employees, and board members.

Something that was different for me this summer was the number of high profile events I was able to attend and participate in, such as the Indiana-Africa Agriculture Convergence Summit and the visit of William Bull, Liberian Ambassador to the USA. Having done extensive research and writing of articles for these events, it was a thrill to see my hard work in the hands of these people. I knew how important all our work was to Sagamore, but actually seeing it come to fruition and knowing how it would be used in the future was the most rewarding part of this internship.

I have enjoyed getting to know the Sagamore staff so much better this summer and gaining from all they have to teach. I have learned more about my passions, expanded my academic horizons, and really been able to grow as a student and professional member of the community while interning here. Working at Sagamore was the highlight of my summer, and I can only hope that I will have the good fortune to work with them again in the future.