CAPAL Intern Spotlight Xiong Her ’18

Xiong Her is recent graduate of Marquette University with a double major in International Affairs and Political Science. He has studied abroad in China three times —Nanjing, Beijing, and Xi’an—through the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE), Loyola University of Chicago – The Beijing Center, and the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS). This summer he will be interning with the Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS).

What are you excited to learn about during your internship this summer?

I am excited to learn about the US Department of Agriculture’s mission and its role in improving the US’ agricultural exports and trade relationship with foreign countries. Coming to the USDA with no background or knowledge about agriculture, I was surprised to learn that the USDA does more than just farming activities. It oversees so many programs domestically and internationally that impacts millions of lives around the world, ranging from the SNAP program to the farm bill to food inspection to food security for developing countries that people often take for granted every day. This internship opens my eyes to see the benefits of public services, helping American people as well as developing countries that are in need of improvement.

What are some things that you did not expect coming into the internship?

I was not expected to meet and attend conferences or events with so many high-profile figures. This past Monday, June 18, 2018, I had the opportunity to volunteer at the World Food Prize event where I had the opportunity to greet and meet with both US and foreign Ambassadors or scientists who make great contributions to agriculture. It was an amazing experience to meet, talk and learn from these honorable leaders around the world. At first, I thought agriculture will be boring, but I always learn something new, and that is always fun!

What are the projects that you’re working on this summer and how are they connected to your interests in public service?

This summer I was assigned to help the Rural Development and Natural Resource Branch within the Office of Capacity and Building Development to conduct research on a Southeast Asia proposal for the USAID. The project is called Enhancing Capacity for Low Emission Development Strategies (EC-LEDS) in Agriculture, where I conduct research on five Southeast Asian countries—Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam—on their development, agricultures, and climate change strategies. These strategies will help the US understands the importance needs of those countries and to create development programs that will improve those countries’ infrastructures and capacities in order to increase US agricultural exports in the future. At the same time, the US helps those countries to reduce greenhouse gas and to become green economic countries.xi1

What do you do in your free time?

During my free time, I like to explore new places and try new things around DC such as going to different Smithsonian museums or try new food. There is always free event going on every day in DC, and so far, I really enjoyed the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center. Also, I love watching the World Cup! Go Brazil!

What is the best piece of advice you have received?

“It’s not time to be shy, but it’s time to shine,” by my second internship supervisor, Clemen. She is a wonderful and amazing woman who barely know me, but she is willing to mentor and teach me how to maneuver around this bureaucratic system.

Meet all of our CAPAL Scholars & Interns here.

Sharon Le is a rising third-year student at the University of Virginia, double majoring in Psychology and Spanish, on the Pre-Law track. Sharon served as the External Vice President for the Vietnamese Student Association (VSA@UVA) the past year, and is also involved in Phi Alpha Delta – the International Pre-Law Fraternity, and the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Team at the University. She was greatly exposed to the Asian Pacific American representation not only through her involvement with the Vietnamese community in Northern Virginia with VSA but also through her background – having grown up in Vietnam and moving to America in high school. Sharon hopes to promote Asian Pacific American leadership with her commitments and to give the community a bigger voice in the country.