Next stop, Paris!

Hello everyone!

My name is Joseph Montrey and I am a rising senior at Pitt majoring in International & Area Studies as well as Political Science with a minor in French! While I, like many college seniors, do not know precisely where I will end up in the future, it is my hope that this summer’s international experience will give me insight into which field I might want to work in the years to come!

My childhood was spent in central Washington DC where I was born and raised by a family of government workers, who in typical DC fashion love nothing more than talking about politics every night at the dinner table. When I first came to Pitt, I thought that I had no interests in politics, or even anything political and I had even convinced myself that I was going to be an archaeologist. However, as life has a funny way of returning you to your roots, over the past three years I have developed a true passion for public policy. Now, I intend on pursuing an international career working in either public policy research or creation.

In my free time I love to both play and watch, arguably too much, soccer. I started playing soccer when I was around 5 years old and have loved it ever since, and I will admit to watching every soccer match involving my favorite team Chelsea as well as nearly every match in the Champions and Europa League. I hope to continue playing while I am abroad as soccer is a great way to make friends from lots of different countries.

One of my other hobbies is learning languages! I can only claim to truly speak English and French, but I love learning and have started a few other languages in the last couple years. I took Latin for 8 years throughout middle and high-school, and have similarly studied both Spanish and Japanese to an intermediate level throughout college. Moreover, I have started learning Portuguese since December of 2021, but it is very much a work in progress! Other than soccer and languages, I also love to play the vocabulary game Wordle and its many derivative spin offs like Quordle, and watch crime dramas from every corner of the globe.

I decided prior to the pandemic that I would apply to the International Internship Program: Paris (IIP) to broaden both my academic and cultural horizons, however I had to delay for a year due to obvious circumstances. Since the world has mostly opened back up, I applied this year with the hopes of being placed in a non-governmental organization working in or tangentially related to global development, a field that consistently needs policy specialists. To my delight, I recently found out I will be spending this summer working at Libraries Without Borders or Bibliotheques Sans Frontieres (BSF) which is one of the leading global organizations that deals with knowledge-based development in the Francophone world. Specifically, I will be working with the Communication and Education/Formation/Content teams primarily as a translator and editor, because all documents produced by BSF are made available in both French and English. Moreover, I will be working whenever needed on the development of fundraising initiatives with the public and grant making institutions as well as on administrative project management.

From my perspective, this internship has many great benefits such as its potential for increasing my network, improving my French, and helping me gain further familiarity with another culture. As someone who would love to work abroad in the future, it is important to recognize that opportunities are made available not from what you know, but rather who you know. As such, a professional internship in such an international NGO provides a chance to create bonds with my coworkers that will likely prove invaluable in the future. Moreover, it also affords me the chance to truly polish my French both in my workplace, but also in my host family. Practicing my verbal French skills in both high and low pressure environments will be crucial to perfecting bilingual communicative skills, an essential asset to an international career.

On a more personal note, my internship and host family will also allow me to expand my cultural literacy by providing chances to foster close relationships that bridge geographic borders. I believe that every person, regardless of circumstance, has room to grow towards further understanding our ever globalizing world and through collaborative professional work and more intimate domestic connections, I intend to fully immerse myself in the French way of life, which I believe to be the most efficient way to become knowledgeable about French culture. 

Ultimately, I hope to look back on this experience in the future as one of the best summers of my life, where I made great strides in my personal, academic, and professional growth!