Joel Colf graduated from SIS, University of the Pacific in 2001 with a B.A. in International and Regional Studies (Middle East) with minors in Art History and Gender Studies. In 2007, he completed an M.S. in Peace Operations at George Mason University in Arlington, VA, with a thesis titled "A Framework Analysis of Relief for Forced Migrants and the Process of Return: Afghanistan."
As a student at Pacific, Joel studied abroad in Turkey in an art and architecture program and in Switzerland in a refugee and migration studies certificate program. He interned with the World Health Organization and UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva.
Joel served as one of the first undergraduates in the US to be an election supervisor with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe during Kosovo's first election in 2000, while finishing his senior year at SIS. He served in two more elections in Kosovo and two missions in Armenia.
Joel went on to work as a Residential Director at UOP, an intern with the Middle East and North Africa program at the National Democratic Institute and an International Trade Analyst at the US Department of Labor's Division of Trade Adjustment Assistance.
Since July 2007, he has been working as a Refugee Officer with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, Refugee Affairs Division. Joel has interviewed refugees in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Thailand, Malaysia, Nepal, Austria, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq. He credits his expertise in conducting Iraqi interviews to the regional focus in his studies at SIS.
Fun Fact: Joel began learning guitar in Mae Sot, Thailand from a local teacher named Kubum.