Sophie Fry, Government Concentrator in Adams House, Class of 2013
It’s always been my dream to spend a summer in DC. Although I’m from London, England, I am fascinated with American Politics. As a government major at Harvard, I have relished the chance to take classes such as ‘American Presidential Elections from 1960 – 2008’ and ‘The Supreme Court and American Politics’. Yet being in DC has exceeded all the expectations I had initially held from watching hours of the West Wing and films such as Dave and The American President.
This summer I am working at the National Democratic Institute (NDI), an organization chaired by Madeline Albright which works on promoting democracy in countries all around the world. With this being a topic at the forefront of everyone’s mind due to the Arab Spring, it has been a fascinating time to be working here. The work I do for NDI is varied, and it really changes day to day, giving the job an exciting edge of the unexpected. I attend regional team meetings and get expert information and updates regarding news from countries in every corner of the globe. Due to the international nature of the work NDI does, I also help organize a lot of travel (if you’re looking for a good hotel in Lithuania, or need to know the best way to drive from Bosnia & Herzegovina to Kosovo, I’m your girl), and many times have put together teams to go perform development work with political parties in countries such as Sierra Leone and Haiti.
I heard of this opportunity through Harvard’s Institute of Politics, an organization that I devote a lot of time to on campus. During the year, the IOP runs programs dedicated to getting students involved in politics and public service, and brings in some incredible speakers – this last year, I had the chance to meet and hear figures such as
former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and General Odierno speak on campus. On top of this day to day programming, the IOP also runs a fantastic internship program which sets up funded internships in organizations not just across America, but around the world – I have friends working in places such as the UK Houses of Parliament and the World Health Organization in Geneva!
Yet, my political experience in DC isn’t contained solely within my working hours. The Institute of Politics also runs a program called ‘Summer in Washington’, which organizes opportunities for Harvard students down in DC. Some of the coolest things I’ve had the chance to do so far this summer have included: going to see a taping of Meet the Press, featuring 2012 Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum, and the first debate between the chairs of the DNC and RNC, Debbie Wassernan-Schultz and Reince Priebus respectively; having lunch with one of Joe Biden’s foreign policy advisors and speech writer, Jon Finer; and having coffee on the Hill with Senator Shaheen of New Hampshire.
DC is a great place to spend summer – there are hundreds of college students in the Capital doing incredibly interesting things, and there is always something going on to keep you busy! Although I only have a few more weeks here at NDI, I know that I will definitely be back in DC in the very near future.
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