South Sudan native enjoys revolutionary internship

Chiengkuach Majok MA '12 helped organize new nation's financial systems

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Many people’s summers have likely involved beaches and basking in the sunshine; meanwhile, Chiengkuach Majok MA '12 witnessed nothing less than a cultural revolution on his native soil.

Chiengkuach returned home for the summer June 28 to work for the US Agency for International Development at a bank – specifically, the Central Bank of South Sudan.

South Sudan became an independent nation a mere 11 days after his arrival. Since then, he has helped configure the country’s financial information system and orchestrate a speedy transition to an entirely new currency.

Even as an intern, Chiengkuach’s contributions to the project cannot be overstated. He has been in the trenches at the Ministry of Finance, helping advise on inflation and currency rates with experts who had previously established central banks in Kosovo and Afghanistan. His superiors quickly gave him the nickname of “The Little Guy with Big Answers.”

He said that his experiences at Brandeis International Business School played a major role in preparing him for the opportunity.

“Without my strong background of courses in international macroeconomics and economic development, I would probably be scratching my head when these issues come up,” he said.

The job has found Chiengkuach tackling such challenges as the investigation of discrepancies in exchange rates, not to mention things as seemingly simple as getting locals to create bank accounts.

“Many South Sudanese people still trust their houses and mattresses more than the available banks,” he said.

The most meaningful experience of all, though, was soaking in the atmosphere as his homeland underwent a truly once-in-a-lifetime moment.

“Being here to witness my country’s independence is something I will always cherish,” he said. “Never in my life have I seen crowds of people marching in the street singing and beating drums while shedding tears of joy. It was simply an amazing thing to be part of.”

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