Problems & Solutions

My internship with Democracy for Development (D4D) had to adapt to continuing restrictions in place for COVID-19.  Kosovo is a small country with a population just shy of 2 million people, and it is young with a relatively undeveloped economy.  Given its size and lack of resources, Kosovars have had a difficult time accessing vaccines, and so the decision was made to move my internship online as opposed to in person with the D4D team in Pristina.

This decision was of course a difficult one.  I am an avid traveler, and the prospect of spending a summer living in and exploring a new country was obviously exciting.  Nevertheless, I am very fortunate to be working with such an amazing and accommodating organization.  Everyone I have worked with has gone to great lengths to make my experience as genuine and productive as possible, and their efforts have made me feel like a valued member of the team. 

After it was decided that my primary responsibility would be researching and writing a paper, the next step was choosing a research question.  This process proved more difficult than expected and required fitting a topic of interest to me within the framework of an issue important to D4D.  The common thread between D4D and my own background was international affairs and foreign policy, and it was from this commonality that we settled on a research question: How can the foreign policy schemes of previous presidential administrations, from George H.W. Bush to Donald Trump, inform President Joe Biden's foreign policy approach to Kosovo?

The next step proved even more challenging, and I am actively working on a solution.  Specifically, how can I incorporate a legal angle to my larger research question?  Because D4D is an NGO concerned primarily with advocacy and policy work, it is up to me to discover where U.S. foreign policy in Kosovo and American jurisprudence overlap.  I think the answer is Kosovo's contested sovereignty following its declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008.  Kosovo's status has implications for membership in important strategic and commercial organizations aligned with the West, and I think the argument should be made that continued support for Serbian recognition of Kosovo's independence is in our foreign policy interest.