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Anna Blue ’16, is an International Relations major from Washington D.C. She is SIG’s Vice Chair of Programming for the 2015-2016 school year. Previously, she served as Director for SIG’s Public Policy Forum. This summer, Anna interned as a SIG fellow at the Innovation Section of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, Switzerland.

After my summer at the U.S. State Department last summer (where I learned a lot and met a lot of inspirational people), I was a little bit disillusioned with how slow and bureaucratic the U.S. government could be. As someone passionate about human rights and international development, I still felt like the place that I could make the most positive change was in the public sector, but I wanted to find an internship where I could fuse the creativity and “outside-of-the-box” thinking I had learned at Stanford with the mission and the purpose of humanitarian aid.

Anna Blue at the UNHCR office in Geneva

Anna Blue at the UNHCR office in Geneva (image source: Anna Blue)

The Innovation Section has turned out to be the perfect place for me! It is a fast-paced unit that uses innovation to solve refugee crises and connect refugee communities. The Innovation Unit implements human-centered design thinking into their problem-solving and I have been amazed at how the unit uses cutting edge technology to bring refugees access to sustainable energy, higher education, and home security.

Anna Blue at the United Nations main office (image source: Anna Blue)

Anna Blue at the United Nations main office
(image source: Anna Blue)

I especially admire how the Innovation Unit uses the world as their resource: they are not afraid to reach out to private companies for funding and partnerships, or to organize conferences with local universities in third world countries to brainstorm new ideas, or to crowd source opinions from the media and the public.

My specific role has been as an Engagement intern, so I have been working with and for refugees. All in all, it’s shaping up to be a great summer. I think the coolest thing that I did was drink champagne with the Deputy High Commissioner of UNHCR, Alexander Aleinikoff! It was a Tuesday morning and I had just grabbed some coffee when the DHC wandered into the Innovation office. The office broke out some fancy wine glasses and popped a bottle of champagne and everyone was drinking away! It was a little weird to adjust to, since I’ve never had alcohol at work, nonetheless on a Tuesday morning! — Anna Blue

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