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CEAS student participates in Stanford Global Studies' Virtual Internship Program

Alyssa Ma 'ili Yee at a desk working

Ma 'ili Yee working at her virtual summer internship

Oct 14 2020

Posted In:

Students
East Asia

Every year, hundreds of students apply to participate in the Stanford Global Studies Internship Program, which offers undergraduates and graduate students an opportunity to extend classroom learning while engaging in immersive cultural and professional experiences around the world.

Open to students in all majors, the eight-week program features internships in a wide range of fields, including business, non-profit, media, education, medicine, art, science, and government.

This past summer, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the program pivoted to offer 35 students virtual internships with 14 host organizations in countries scattered across the globe. Below, six students reflect on their virtual internships. This year, CEAS student Alyssa Ma 'ili Yee (M.A. 2021) participated in the internship program and shared her thoughts about the experience:

Alyssa Ma ‘ili Yee

B.A. in International Relations ’20 & M.A. in East Asian Studies ’21

University of Auckland, New Zealand

Conducting community-based research through the Global Studies Internship Program has been an impactful and invalu­able experience for me at Stanford. I now look forward to continuing community engagement and research important to Pacific Islander communities.

This summer I remotely interned from Honolulu for Dr. Margaret Mutu of the University of Auckland and her tribe, Ngati Kahu. I conducted research regarding Dr. Mutu and her tribe’s recent experiences with Chinese foreign developers. We examined the positive experiences of the mana whenua (ances­tral stewards) of the Karikari peninsula under Chinese as opposed to American developers. In 2015, the tribe and the Chinese executives of Shanghai CRED Real Estate Co. success­fully negotiated a development plan that respected Ngati Kahu ancestral sites on the property. This was considered a great success after years of contention with the previous American owners of the property who refused to respect ancestral burials.

During my internship, I examined the cultural exchanges and practices that have allowed for this positive relationship to grow over the years. It appears that Shanghai CRED recognizes and upholds the te mana te rangatiratanga (authority and power) of the indigenous stewards of the area. However, I also discov­ered that aboriginal descendants in North-Western Australia had an opposite experience with the same company. In 2019, Shanghai CRED allegedly cleared land without first consulting the Nyikina Mangala Traditional Owners. In comparing these two cases, I learned of the diverse effects of Chinese develop­ment for the indigenous peoples of Oceania.

My M.A. thesis examines the potential implications of the Belt and Road Initiative on indigenous Pacific Islander communities. Through my internship with Professor Mutu, I learned the complexity and breadth of Chinese growth in the region. I have thoroughly enjoyed gathering data, conducting interviews, increasing my interpersonal communication skills, and respectfully learning about another culture. This internship has given me an opportunity to apply my personal interests to a comprehensive research project with real implications for culturally appropriate research. I have learned crucial research and writing skills that will prepare me for graduate school and a future career in law.


Visit theGlobal Studies Internship Program websitefor more information about internship positions, deadlines, and ways to get involved. In 2021, SGS is planning to offer a hybrid of virtual and in-person internships in the spring and summer quarters, depending on the evolving nature of the global pandemic.