Andrea Weyneth on the CPD Experience
This feature was included in CPD's 2022–2023 Annual Report. View this and other stories here.
Andrea Weyneth is a CPD Programming & Operations Assistant and USC Master of Public Diplomacy candidate.
What sparked your interest in public diplomacy?
My interest in public diplomacy was sparked by my experience as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine. As someone who has traveled the world extensively and participated in exchange programs, I wondered what influence I could have on others and vice versa. What kind of career would enable me to continue to have those experiences? My time in Ukraine taught me that I enjoy living abroad for extended periods of time, learning new languages and cultures, and engaging in mutual exchange, which led to my aspiration to become a Foreign Service Officer. Since my undergraduate degree was in psychology and biology, I decided to learn more about public diplomacy and how it intersects with international relations at one of the best departments: USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.
Is there a specific insight or lesson from one of your classes that’s stuck with you?
A specific insight I gained from one of my classes in the Master of Public Diplomacy program at USC was that evaluation is possible and necessary in public diplomacy programs. Learning how programs are assessed and what needs have yet to be met interested me the most. As someone with a background in research, I was pleasantly surprised by the push for evaluations for programs implemented by public diplomacy actors. It is critical to explore the impact of these programs and their overall effectiveness in reaching the outlined target goals and audiences. Evaluation will inform future public diplomacy programs and determine significant differences between and across programs. Moreover, a class that had us create programs representing a variety of countries, organizations, and topics taught me how to work with others to implement a successful program. More importantly, it helped me to gain perspective on the goals of other governments abroad and what their public diplomacy goals would look like.
Outside USC, have you had any experience with public diplomacy or foreign affairs? [Your experience in Ukraine might be neat here!]
Outside of my experience as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Ukraine, I feel that I engaged in “unofficial” public diplomacy when I was an Au Pair in France for one year. I lived with a host family and was able to be really ingrained in the French way of life. In addition to this, I studied abroad during my undergraduate degree in New Zealand. Both exchanges taught me how to explain my own habits and values, which I had taken for granted. My particularities were not as apparent to other international friends I met. Sometimes, I would be asked to explain America’s values, traditions, and policies. Through making connections abroad, I was able to share and gain knowledge of our respective home countries. Undoubtedly, these exchanges helped shape my aspirations to become a Foreign Service Officer and led me to the Master of Public Diplomacy program at USC.
What have been the highlights of working at the Center on Public Diplomacy?
The highlights of working at CPD have first and foremost been working with my incredible colleagues. Each one of them took me under their wing to teach me a new practical skill or discuss public diplomacy concepts. I have gained invaluable friendships while working at CPD and hope to take what I learned forward with me. Other opportunities include working during the Summer Institute that CPD hosts. This is a two-week program where diplomats and practitioners from around the world come to learn about public diplomacy. Here, I was able to connect with American diplomats who inspire me to pursue my career aspirations by joining them in the foreign service. I was able to listen to fascinating courses on related public diplomacy topics and learn invaluable insights from esteemed professors. Not to mention, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Elizabeth Allen stopped by!
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