Intercultural and International Communication | SIS
Our alumni answer the question: what can I do with a degree in Intercultural and International Communication or International Media? Their stories indicate a broad swath of opportunities for putting classroom learning to work in professional settings around the world.
Wendy Belzer Litzke
Wendy works as the Vice President for Government and Community Relations at Goucher College in Baltimore. She served previously as the Special Assistant to the Director at Voice of America, and the Press Secretary / Communications Director at the Office of Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (D-NY). Wendy came to AU from Boston College, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BA in Spanish, having spent a year abroad in Spain. She studied in both the International Communication and Comparative and Regional Studies programs at SIS, concentrating on Latin America and communication strategies in complex humanitarian emergencies. According to Wendy, IC was a “perfect fit,” given her dual interests in communications and Spanish, the interdisciplinary nature of the field, and the flexibility of the program. She was impressed by “the number of opportunities open to me upon graduation.”
Nilar Chit Tun
Nilar came to the IC program to pursue her interest in “the intercultural element that keeps communication between people, cultures and governments so interesting… and delicate at the same time.” After graduating from AU, Nilar’s career has taken her around the world: She worked in Myanmar as a Communications Officer with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, and in Haiti with Chemonics International and with AED in conjunction with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She currently works as a Knowledge Management Specialist at the World Bank/IFC, and has been stationed in Yangon, Port au Prince and Washington. Nilar came to AU from Marymount University in Arlington, VA where she graduated with Honors with a BA in Communication, having spent semesters abroad in Martinique, France and Switzerland.In her spare time, Nilar pursues her passion for cooking as a recipe tester for the Washington Post food section.
Sybille Reinke de Buitrago
Sybille is currently a Fellow at the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg in Germany, where she works on issues of international relations, international security, and peace and conflict resolution. Having experienced firsthand the unification of East and West Germany, Sybille’s interest in International Communication was sparked by her observation of the roles of culture, socialization and identity in different communication patterns among people. At AU, Sybille concentrated on communication patterns across cultures, identity construction and socialization, and perception patterns and their impact on behavior and policy. She held internships at the National MultiCultural Institute, the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies, and People to People International. Reflecting on the IC program, Sybille recounts: “What I liked most was that courses reflected current developments and themes and that faculty often had first-hand practical experience… The international student body is also a great plus, as one can discuss issues with the benefit of different perspectives.”
Hilary graduated in spring 2012 with an MA in International Communication and concentration in Health Communication and Promotion. Hilary came to American University with a BA in Communication Studies and a minor in Spanish Language and Culture from the University of Maryland, College Park. While at Maryland, Hilary studied internationally in Israel and Morocco. She also worked for the University’s Education Abroad Office and interned at the Department of State. During her time at American University, Hilary’s research interests centered on creating culturally and community-appropriate health interventions and strategic communication materials. She assisted faculty member Dr. Maria De Jesus on a federal grant proposal, served as a project coordinator at COTELCO (the Center for Research on Collaboratories and Technology Enhanced Learning Communities), and worked as a Health Education Intern and Contractor with Adventist HealthCare’s Health & Wellness Department. Hilary is currently a Health Communications Fellow with the National Institutes of Health in the National Cancer Institute’s Office of Biorepositories and Biospecimen Research.
Yukiko is originally from Japan and never imagined she would one day study abroad or work internationally. Yukiko completed her undergraduate studies in French at the Sophia University in Tokyo, and spent one year in France as an exchange students at Université Catholique d'Ouest in Angers. After completing her degree in IC, Yukiko returned to Japan and currently works for PwC Japan as a finance and accounting consultant. In this role she advises major Japanese companies and international corporations on issues such as project management, risk management, communication, system design, and human resources management. Working with clients in different fields, Yukiko utilizes her understanding of cross-cultural communication to contribute to project objectives and facilitate intercultural relations between firms operating in Japan. “I truly believe what I learned in the IC program, especially from my classmates, contributes extensively to my career.”
Shanti is the Cultural Affairs Coordinator at the Japan Information and Culture Center (JICC), Embassy of Japan. Prior to joining the Embassy of Japan, Ms. Shoji worked in Japan for six years – two years as an English teacher at public junior high schools on the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program, and four years working for Labo International Exchange Foundation, a Japanese non-profit international exchange and education organization. Besides Ms. Shoji’s passion for intercultural communication and international exchange and education, she enjoys travelling, the outdoors, running, and enjoying all that DC has to offer. A native of Portland, Oregon, Ms. Shoji graduated from the University of Oregon with a BA in Japanese and International Studies. In 2009 she received her MA in International Communication from American University’s School of International Service.
After completing her Bachelor's degree in Spanish and Creative Writing at the University of Miami, Gabrielle earned her Master's in International Communication in May 2010 at American University. She then began work as the International Admissions Counselor in AU's admission office. She now lives in Houston, working as the Assistant Director of Admission at Rice University, where her duties include domestic territories, international recruitment, and application review and staff training, among others. She is also a College Associate for Martel Residential College at Rice, in addition to serving on the Graduate Scholarship Committee at the MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Justis currently serves as both the Program Manager of the Education through Cultural and Historical Organizations Program and as a Program Officer with the Magnet Schools Assistance Program at the U.S. Department of Education (ED). In these roles, he oversees a portfolio of discretionary grants in the areas of arts education, arts integration, strategic foreign languages, communication, leadership, STEM, gifted education, international baccalaureate, and cross-cultural understanding. His interests and specializations lie in the areas of program management, process optimization, research methods, cross-cultural communication, comparative politics, and East Asian foreign affairs. Justis joined the U.S. Department of Education in January 2010 as a Presidential Management Fellow after spending several years working in the fields of higher education and human resources. His first position with the Federal government was with the Department of Defense at the Pentagon, where he split his efforts between the Office of Culture, Religion, & Military Equal Opportunity and the newly established Office of Sexual Assault Prevention & Response. He currently serves as the president of LGBT and Allied Employees at ED, the principal representative for Asian American Pacific Islander Connections, a board member of the Joseph Priestly District of the Unitarian Universalist Association, and a member of the Truman State University National Alumni Association Board of Directors. He is a former International Scholar Laureate and Diversity Fellow of The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars. He earned an MA in International Communication from American University's School of International Service and a Bachelor of Arts degree, summa cum laude, in Political Science from Truman State University.
Allison Cash Spiro
After graduating from the IC program in 2009, Allison began working for NAFSA: Association of International Educators. Allison has had an upward trajectory at NAFSA and was recently promoted to a new position as the Associate Director for Education Abroad Outreach & Regulatory Practice. Having studied abroad four times between undergraduate and graduate school, including an internship at the U.S. Embassy in Paris, Allison is a strong believer in the transformative power of international and cross-cultural education. Her interest in pursuing a career in this field is what led her to the International Communication program at AU. Allison also has a BA in French from the University of Louisville.
Christina graduated from IC in May 2011 and currently works as a Foreign Operations Specialist with the US Government, liaising with representatives of her agency abroad, and with foreign representatives stationed at their respective embassies here in DC. “I get to act as the face of my agency for the reps and convey to them how much we appreciate their partnerships and trust, and vice versa… I am really loving it! I also have opportunities to travel internationally, which I am really looking forward to.” At AU, Christina focused on Public Diplomacy and wrote her SRP on the 2008 Beijing Olympics and their reception in American print and broadcast media. Meanwhile, she interned at the British Embassy, and worked with the British Council on Marshall Scholarship applications and other projects. She also interned at the Department of State in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs: “This gave me a great window into the integral role aid programs play in the US's overall public diplomacy strategy, and also gave me fantastic contacts going forward.“
Brigitte is originally from Virginia, and completed her IC degree in 2010 with a focus on intercultural relations. While studying at American, she was a Board Member of International Communication Student Forum and worked as a facilitator and coordinator of the TALK intercultural dialogue program, sponsored by International Student and Scholar Services. Brigitte currently works in D.C. as the International Program Director for the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, a program which sends volunteers to serve for one or two years in economically marginalized communities within the U.S. and overseas.
Distinguished Alumnus Dr. Naren Chitty
Dr. Chitty earned both his MA in International Communication and his PhD in International Relations from SIS. He was recently named Associate Dean – International, Faculty of Arts at Macquaire University, one of Australia’s top universities. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Dr. Chitty has also served as Director of the International Communication Department, Deputy Dean of the Division of Society, Culture, Media and Philosophy, and Director of the Soft Power Advocacy and Research Center (SPARC). He was also the driving force behind introducing international communication degrees at the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels at Macquaire. Dr. Chitty is the author of numerous scholarly works in the areas of soft power, public diplomacy, new media, international media, international communication theory and practice, and foreign policy.
In addition to be being a distinguished scholar, Dr. Chitty has been a practitioner in the field. He served as a Counselor for the Sri Lankan Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Washington, DC as well as a national television policy planner and as the deputy director of a community development NGO. Dr Chitty was Secretary General of the International Association for Media and Communication from 2000 through 2004 and was awarded the Order of Australia 'for services to education' in 2009. His experience as a practitioner in the field informs his research as he continues to be on the cutting edge of issues that are pivotal to international communication.