AS student spends summer building bridges in U.S.-China relations

By: Yvette Lisa Ndlovu,  AS Communications
Thu, 07/27/2017

Zhangmin Abigail Chen ‘19, a College Scholar focusing on government and China Asia-Pacific studies, is pursuing her interests in international affairs and non-profit management as an intern at the Carter Center’s China Program this summer.

The Carter Center, founded in 1982 by President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter, is a nongovernmental organization commited to human rights and the alleviation of human suffering.

“It’s been a pleasure to work with an extremely driven group composed of more than 40 interns, and very approachable staffers who have extensive experience as development practitioners,” Chen said. “I think I have really grown professionally and personally during the internship.”

Chen is working on multiple research projects and events guided by the program’s core mission to build bridges and reduce misperceptions about U.S.- China relations today. Chen writes articles for the center’s U.S.-China Perception Monitor website, as well as policy briefs on Chinese economic engagement and peacekeeping initiatives in Africa. Chen has also assisted with visiting business delegations and is helping to organize the center’s Young Scholars’ Forum that is taking place in October.  

“A typical day of my internship also consists of different educational events,” Chen said. “I’ve attended events such as archives tours, gender workshops and career panels featuring practitioners in the international development field.

Chen said her courses in China and Asian-Pacific studies prepared her for her internship.

“The courses I’ve taken have given me a nuanced understanding of complex realities in U.S.- China interactions,” Chen said. “The courses on Chinese and Cambodian politics that I took with Professor Andrew Mertha especially taught me how to approach Chinese foreign policy-making from historical and bureaucratic perspectives.”

Chen said her involvement with service learning programs, the Cornell International Affairs Society and AIESEC Cornell (an organization that promotes international understanding and global citizenship among college students) have also greatly enhanced her passion in international development.

“I got to have lunch with former President Jimmy Carter,” Chen said (see photo at right of the group with President Carter). “It was a rewarding experience to listen to his China stories at his boyhood home.”