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Learning the System

July 11, 2013

A smiling woman in a dark jacketEmily Robson hails from Portland, Oregon. She is a rising sophomore at Case Western Reserve University majoring in Nursing. In the summer of 2010, Emily gained experience in community development with the AMIGOS de las Americas program while living in a rural Panamanian community.  She then spent three months in Eastern Africa in 2011. While volunteering with a health clinic in Uganda, Emily realized she wanted to pursue a career in International Health. Once she has completed her education, Emily hopes to live abroad and work on healthcare issues in Third World countries. Her goal is to treat those who go untreated. She wants people living in impoverished areas to receive the health education and care they deserve.   Emily is completing her Youth in Development (YIDA) internship at the International Affairs Division of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which manages engagement with international emergency management partners and coordinates foreign visit requests at FEMA facilities.  Connect with Emily Robson via her LinkedIn profile at

Here, Emily shares her experience during her first few weeks in Washington DC this summer.

When I first received my internship assignment my initial reaction was surprised. First, I was unaware that working for the government was an opportunity and secondly I had zero experience and very limited knowledge on the government sector.  Regardless, I was excited to see what working for the government, specifically FEMA’s International Affairs Division truly meant.

My first lesson began prior to me entering the FEMA facility. Through a tedious security check that delayed my start date for two weeks I realized how complicated and intricate it can be working for the government.  When I finally arrived my office graciously made me apart of their team instantly. My supervisor provided me with a facility tour and showed me the National response Coordination Center (NRCC). This is where an emergency like a natural disaster will become activated. Once activated FEMA employees will have to leave their office and report for duty at the NRCC. President Obama spent a great deal of time here and at the FEMA facility during Hurricane Sandy.

Later in the week I was introduced to a project I will work on throughout the summer known has Lesson Learned Information Sharing (LLIS, Basically, LLIS is a system that allows everyday people to learn more about how a certain emergency was managed. What issues  occurred and how they were dealt with.

The rest of my week I was helping to prepare for meetings with International Visitors. Part of what the International Affairs Division does is process and coordinates meeting requests made by International Visitors.  These are primarily people coming from the international emergency management partners FEMA has a treaty with. The treaties exist with: Asia Pacific, Australia, Canada, Chile, Eurpoean Union, Germany, Israel, Mexico, NATO, New Zealand, Russia, and the United Kingdom. During a typical visit people come for a meeting to learn more about FEMA and take a tour of the NRCC.

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