Student takes on Asia, global policy in Washington, D.C.

For Kendra Mysore, ’20, meeting a former U.S. secretary of state was just another day at the office during her internship last summer in the nation’s capital.

Like many Stanford students, Kendra Mysore, ’20, has a profound interest in global policy issues, particularly those related to Asia. So when she came across a summer internship at The Asia Foundation’s (TAF) Washington, D.C., office, she jumped at the opportunity.

Kendra Mysore with Madeleine Albright.

Kendra Mysore, ’20, with former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in Washington, D.C. (Image credit: Courtesy of Kendra Mysore)

TAF is an international development nonprofit that works to improve lives across Asia. It addresses critical issues facing the continent, including strengthening governance, expanding economic opportunity, increasing environmental resilience, empowering women and promoting international cooperation.

The internship at TAF – as well as several opportunities in other countries­ – is available to Stanford undergrads and graduate students through the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center and the U.S.-Asia Security Initiative, which are part of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. Interns receive a stipend to cover travel and living expenses, and receive faculty mentorship from former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry for the duration of their internship. Applications for summer 2019 internships are due Feb. 8. A list of opportunities is available here.

The Roundabout caught up with Mysore to learn about her work with The Asia Foundation, meeting a former U.S. secretary of state and what it was like living in the nation’s capital for the summer.


Why did you choose to work at TAF?

I’ve always been interested in other cultures. This manifested in high school when I went to South Korea to study the Korean language through a program offered by the U.S. State Department. That introduced me to the government sector. When I came to Stanford I took a lot of economics classes and became interested in economic development. This opportunity at TAF seemed right up my alley.


Tell me about the job.

As an intern, I would attend panels, hearings or other events related to international development, then write memos or reports for the head of TAF’s D.C. office. The events included congressional hearings and Senate meetings to discuss anything from foreign relations to national security to the State Department’s budget.

I also attended events held by think tanks around D.C., including the Brookings Institution, the United States Institute of Peace, and others, where they’d discuss topics like globalization, religious freedom or family planning.


Kendra Mysore standing in front of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Kendra Mysore at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C. (Image credit: Kendra Mysore)

What was it like working at TAF’s Washington, D.C. office?

The D.C. office is quite intimate. There are only about 15 to 20 employees, and many of them travel for work. My direct supervisor mentored me throughout the internship and helped me get acclimated. She also assigned projects.


Can you talk about an interesting project that you work on?

One was a bilateral dialogue between the U.S. and Thailand. It was a week-long conference for Asia and U.S. interests, as well as academics, to discuss historical relations between the U.S. and Thailand. I helped with preparations for the conference, which included writing biographies of participants and transcribing the discussions. It was really amazing to see this dialogue take place. I gained a lot of insight into that social and political climate.

During the dialogue I met former U.S. secretary of state Madeline Albright. Getting to meet and talk to her was amazing. She has a great sense of humor!


What was it like living in the nation’s capital for eight weeks?

Washington, D.C., is such a vibrant city at the forefront of global issues. I got to spend my weekends sightseeing and I’m pretty sure I saw all the major monuments. My favorite museum was the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The great thing about D.C. is that a lot of things there are free, including the museums and even the zoo!


Any advice for Stanford students considering a global policy internship?

It’s OK not to know everything. It’s OK to ask questions. There was definitely a lot that I didn’t know when I arrived at TAF. But being open and asking questions helped me be a better intern.