In the 2015-2016 academic year, Coastal Carolina University student Emily Clingenpeel was an analyst in the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief’s Europe Desk. The Intelligence and National Security Studies major and Global Studies Minor specializes in Eastern European affairs with an emphasis on Russia. This fall, Clingenpeel took an extra step in her specialization by going to Russia to study. She is currently a student at the St. Petersburg Polytechnic University, where she focuses on Russian Language study, through a program provided by the American Institute of Foreign Study (AIFS). We caught up with her during a rare break from her many trips throughout Russia and Eastern Europe and asked her a few questions about her study-abroad experience and its connection to her CIB training.
Q: Why did you decide to go to Russia? Eastern Europe, with an emphasis on Russia, is my area of focus. I have been studying Russian language, culture and politics for quite some time and I wanted to have my own personalized experience and perspective.
Q: What was your involvement with CIB prior to heading to Russia? What did you specialize in and what did you conclude in your CIB research? I was a CIB analyst for one year before going to Russia. During the first semester of my CIB tenure, I focused on a variety of ongoing developments within Eastern Europe. In my second semester I was tasked with providing an answer to a very specific question, namely: “Will there be pro-Russian unrest in the Baltics, similar to Ukraine, in 2016?” From my research, I concluded that it is highly unlikely for pro-Russian unrest to occur in the Baltics because of their deep integration with Western Europe and especially the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. My analytical product was also published in the first issue of The Intelligence Review.
Q: What is the connection between your CIB work and your current work in Russia? The CIB gave me a thorough background of knowledge and a deeper understanding of the region that I am now in. Russia is my area of expertise, and I will be traveling to Estonia for a few days in November, so I am looking forward to that. The CIB allowed me to form my own opinions on some very important topics, and I was able to recognize key features of Russian political culture and leadership that relate to foreign relations, which are either omitted from Western mainstream media or reported with considerable bias.
Q: Would you recommend study-abroad for other CIB analysts? Why? I highly encourage everyone to study abroad, especially in their region of interest. Learning the language and studying the culture from within the country has been extremely beneficial to me. I have learned more in the two months I have been here than I have in a full year in the United States. I truly believe it is something that everyone who is serious about studying a particular region in depth should experience.