by Jaylin Small

During the fall semester of 2021, I participated in the Washington Semester Program and interned at the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies (AICGS). Under the supervision of Elizabeth Hotary, I carried out daily, weekly, and monthly tasks that ranged from conducting media reports to assisting Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) fellows with their research. My most important task was defense briefs that focused on the Biden administration, China’s Belt and Road Initiative, as well as Germany’s involvement in the project.

Since my internship took place during the German Bundestag 2021, the topic controlled most of AICGS’s content towards the end of the year. Similar to the 2020 Presidential Election, the German Bundestag saw the party-in-power ousted in both the majority and chancellorship. Former chancellor, Angela Merkel of the Christian-Democratic Union, promised to step down after her win in the 2017 elections. This led to her replacement, Armin Laschet, competing against Olaf Scholz, for the chancellorship/majority. Olaf Scholz and the Social Democratic Party’s win was historic for many reasons. One, the Social Democratic Party received its worst vote results in history during the 2017 federal elections. Two, considering the current political climate in Europe, the results in Germany’s election were quite the opposite.

Towards the end of my internship, I wrote an article for AICGS on “Xenophobia in East Germany.” The article discusses xenophobia in East Germany (the former German Democratic Republic), specifically towards people from Vietnam, Mozambique, Angola, and Cuba. The article also draws connections between East Germany’s treatment of foreigners and the Alternative for Germany (AFD). The article can be found here: ​​

Overall, my time at AICGS was extremely formative to my future career plans. There, I developed a passion for foreign policy, which inspired me to continue working in the field. My upcoming goals include obtaining more internships within this field, and eventually attend law school to specialize in International and Comparative Law.