Current Issue

Master’s student studies civil conflict via internship in the Sudan

When GSIS master’s degree candidate Andrea Connell told her parents that she was spending a summer in South Sudan, they were more than a little apprehensive.

“I tried not to elaborate on the security risks,” says Connell, noting that the Sudanese people have lived amidst civil unrest since 1955, with a brief period of peace from 1972–83.

Connell interned for the Adventist Development Relief Agency (ADRA) from June to August 2003. She learned of the internship through a professional contact, and her previous experience in the field of international development paved the way.

“I wanted to better understand what perpetuates civil conflict,” she says.

In the Sudan, Connell worked with the United Nations’ Operation Lifeline Sudan, focusing on security and political affairs between the Sudanese people and their government. Using a security checklist based on UN protocols, she assessed security compliance at development projects such as schools and health centers. ADRA also requested organizational assessments from Connell, who evaluated the effectiveness of development project operations.

While most of her time was spent in three areas that were “relatively peaceful,” Connell did spend 11 days in a conflict zone in the Upper Nile province that borders Ethiopia.

“I would wake up in the middle of the night and think that I heard something,” recalls Connell. “I wondered if I would see militia conflict or inter-tribal conflict. But I never felt unsafe.”

The Patterson International Internship Fund awarded Connell $1,400 for her work in the Sudan. Each year, the fund provides a total of $20,000 to 15–25 GSIS students, allowing them to pursue unpaid internships like Connell’s.

Based on what she learned in the Sudan, Connell will write her master’s thesis about the conflict, focusing primarily on multi-level issues that impact conflict and development. Terrorism, she explains, can be one of many consequences of low-intensity conflicts. She hopes that her experience in the Sudan will help her shed some light on regions of instability around the world.

“I hope for an end to the conflict,” Connell says. “When there is peace, people don’t need as much development help. Peace brings development.”



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *