Washington internship program praised by Senator
Jun 28, 2006
While most University of Wollongong students spent their summer holidays on the beach, Bachelor of Arts student Linda Nelson was picking turnips at the home of former United States President, George Washington.
It was one of the many highlights that she experienced as a participant in the Uni-Capitol Washington Internship Program which brings 12 Australian students from different universities to Washington DC each year to work in the thick of American politics for two months.
The success and growth of the internship program was further acknowledged recently by Wollongong-based Liberal Senator, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, who praised the program during in a Senate speech.
She said the program was a very interesting and important program for young Australians and congratulated student participants for the manner in which they had aquitted themselves in US Congress.
“These students have served as ambassadors for themselves, their universities and for Australia. I would encourage other students to utilise opportunities like this when they are made available,” she said.
She also shared with Parliament some ‘glowing’ testimonials from congressmen and congresswomen who have hosted students in the past.
The program, founded and directed pro-bono by former senior congressional adviser Eric K. Federing, offers a unique opportunity for Australian university students to undertake an internship on Capitol Hill. The program has bipartisan support of both the US and Australian government.
“It was a wonderful, amazing experience,” Linda said. “I have such a deeper understanding of American politics and social culture now and I made some long lasting and very special friendships within the intern group and our offices.”
Touring the Pentagon, exploring the White House and meeting Star Wars creator, George Lucas, were also standout moments for Linda.
Linda was placed with the House Committee on Science, which has jurisdiction over much of the non-defence Federal research and development within the United States. Under its jurisdiction are also well known organisations such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“As someone who is essentially a science geek without a science degree this was a dream come true – a chance to work with the people responsible for these organisations.
“It is quite hard to describe what it is like to work in United States politics and actually work in the Capitol Complex. It is impossible not to feel special when your Congressional ID lets you watch House of Representative and Senate proceedings or when you get to ride the special underground subway system that services the Capitol Complex," Linda said.
Linda was also able to attend briefings where she heard Secretary of State, Dr Condoleeza Rice, being ‘grilled’ and was able to stand in the very room where the President delivers the State of the Union address. A reception was also held in honour of Linda and the other interns in the Capitol building and was attended by the Secretary of Transportation, Norman Mineta.
While Linda immersed herself in a very gruelling and challenging 2 months in Washington, she also made time to travel and experience the sights and smells of the USA. It was a chance to play in her first snow, explore New York, Philadelphia and Boston and meet one of her ‘idols’.
“I’m an avid Star Wars fan and was lucky enough to attend a function in the Capitol building where George Lucas was awarded a Medal of Excellence in film production.”
Linda said her stay in Washington only confirmed her desire to work in science and technology policy in the near future, and after completing an Honours year at UOW will seriously consider returning to the place she called home last Summer.