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Geneva Program Alumnae Profile - Faith Begay

Faith Begay MPP'15 participated in Sanford's summer Program on Global Policy and Governance in Geneva. As a part of the program she interned for the The South Centre, an intergovernmental organization of developing countries that helps member countries combine their efforts and expertise to promote their common interests. South Centre is located in Geneva.

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  • Faith Begay

    Geneva Program Participant Bio

    Name: Faith Eileen Begay


    Stanford University

    B.A. Public Policy Minor in Native American Studies


    Duke Sanford School of Public Policy

    Master of Public Policy


    Lower Brule Sioux Reservation in South Dakota

    Begay is Kul Wicasa Lakota, Sicangu Lakota, and Diné

    Current Position:

    Special Assistant- Office of the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs -
    U.S.  Department of the Interior

    Track selected for the Geneva Program:

    Environment, Energy, and Economics

    Internship Organization:

    South Centre

    Internship Position:

    Trade for Development Programme Summer Intern

    Photo courtesy Luther Talks

“My Experience”

One of my most memorable experiences in Geneva occurred one day when I was walking by the main train station. I randomly ran into a youth hoop-dancing group from the Pueblo of Pojoaque from New Mexico. They graciously invited me to attend a confirmation event for Keith Harper the following day. (Ambassador Harper is the U.S. Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council, and the first Native American to hold an ambassador level position with the United Nations.) I could not believe that one minute I was simply on my way home, and the next minute I was attending an event with Ambassador Harper and Ambassador Pamela Hamamoto, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, and other high level officials in Geneva. One advantage to interning in Geneva is that you have access to high level policymaking and high level policy officials - even chance encounters like this can happen at a moment’s notice.

How did your internship in Geneva contribute to your overall career goals and influence where you are today?

I interned in the International Trade and Development branch at South Centre. Most of our work was directed towards developing countries. The work was extremely relevant to my future career goals of working in Native American policy. Native nations of the United States are also developing economies, and it was interesting to see the parallels between the two, and what insights work abroad can provide to Native nations here in the U.S. with regard to trade and development. 

Advice for incoming participants? What do you know now that you wish you knew then?

My best advice is to get to know the people in your cohort as well as people outside of the Duke Geneva program.  The people who participate in the Duke Geneva program are from all over the U.S. and abroad. I made a lot of great friends within my cohort, as well as at my dorm and through events. Make use of your time in Geneva by going to events and getting to know everyone around you, and learning about their experiences and policy interests. Geneva is a great place to make lasting friendships!

Recommendations for future students?

Geneva is a beautiful city, located in close proximity to other European countries. Take advantage of Switzerland’s location to see other areas in Europe, as well as the beautiful attractions that Switzerland has to offer. There are many things to see and do in Geneva that range from the Chillon Castle in Montreux to riding a gondola to the top of the Swiss Alps or going to the Plainpalais flea market and then having a relaxing day swimming at Bains des Paquis.