California native Logan Brog ’15, a double major in government and French studies, was a James O. Freedman Presidential Scholar, a War and Peace Fellow with the Dickey Center for International Understanding, and a captain of the Dartmouth Parliamentary Debate Team. His 2014 summer internship in Washington, DC, was supported by the Mr. E. John Rosenwald Jr. ’52 Public Affairs Internship Fund through the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy. Logan, who is now pursuing a master’s degree in security studies at Georgetown University, talks about Dartmouth as a springboard for his career—and who he’ll be.
I came to Dartmouth knowing that I wanted to study politics and international relations. I was sure I would focus on American politics, but I haven’t taken a single American politics class. Instead, I started taking classes on comparative politics, to understand how countries work on the inside: figuring out how different parliaments and judicial systems function. Once you understand how a country works, you can examine how that state interacts with other states.
I definitely didn’t know the Middle East was going be so central to my Dartmouth experience. I was already studying French and ended up falling in love with Arabic, which I started learning in my first year. I went to Morocco as a sophomore. I didn’t have the strongest command of Arabic when I arrived, and over the course of the term I often struggled with the language. But soon I was able to have meaningful conversations with people. I could order Kinder Bars from a kiosk in Tangier, walk around Portuguese colonial towns, and get lost in every medina.
In the fall of my junior year, I interned with the International Organization for Migration in Kuwait City, and the Dickey Center provided a $4,000 grant. I helped organize the first Arab conference for members of the media on the fight against human trafficking. It was exciting to be in a small office hearing Arabic constantly spoken, but I didn’t really appreciate the change happening in me until I was in a taxi and discovered that I understood what the driver was saying without having to think about it. Something clicked and I realized that all those late nights studying conjugations had amounted to something.
After that, I wanted to continue working in Arabic, so I applied for a summer internship at a Washington, D.C. think tank last year. They liked that I had studied Arabic and government at a place like Dartmouth. With support from the Rockefeller Center, I started as their Lebanon research intern. Three days in, the institute president came into the office and said, “ISIS has just taken over Mosul.”
I ended up getting into the nitty-gritty of where ISIS was, block by block. I was mining whatever open-source information was available—reading Iraqi newspapers and websites, reading Western press—and trying to piece together a story from all of this. We started seeing that something was happening on the Lebanese-Syrian border and that Hezbollah, which supports the Syrian government, had cut off the supply lines of Sunni rebels, who were aligned with ISIS. We said something’s going to happen here, and the next thing we knew Sunni rebels stormed Arsal, a Lebanese town swollen with Syrian refugees, and the Lebanese army was soon involved.
I was asked to write a report about the battle. They trusted me. They said, “Find the sources, analyze the situation—we’ll proof and publish it.” This was the kind of report I had studied when doing research for my government classes. So, actually authoring one for publication was an incredible experience. The Congressional Research Service has cited the paper. It went around the policy circuits and got some traffic on Twitter.
You hear the term “the Dartmouth experience” a lot, and what that means is a little different for each person. Fundamentally, I believe the Dartmouth experience is having an idea of where you want to go—and then Dartmouth acts as a springboard to get you there. Whether it’s working in public policy or becoming a doctor, the College gives you the tools, not just to get you where you want to be, but also to enable you to become the person you want to be.