As an intern in the Canadian House of Commons for five weeks starting in mid-May and ending mid-June, I was assigned a specific member of parliament to work with; in my case, MP Christine Moore of the New Democratic Party. My day to day responsibilities included doing research on policies and bills that MP Moore was working on, reaching out to the stakeholders of those bills, taking detailed House notes while debates were in session, and attending weekly legislative meetings.
In Ottawa, I learned many things about Canada’s parliamentary system, the impact American policies have on them, and met incredible people with careers that I could only dream of having in the future. But I also learned quite a lot about myself. As someone who was relatively new to her major in international studies and still trying to find her way, this internship solidified to me that not only did I hold a keen interest in the field but that I had a genuine passion for it. I loved getting up for work everyday, and staying late to finish an assignment wasn’t a burden when I truly enjoyed the work I was doing.
There are three things that made my time in Ottawa an experience I will never forget: the people, the place, and the passion behind our work. As a visibly Muslim woman living in America, to say I was disconcerted by the previous presidential election would be an understatement. Going to Canada and working within their governing body definitely allowed for a much-needed breath of fresh air, but it also made me realize that every functioning part of every government (be it a citizen, a representative, or the Prime Minister himself) has their own issues with the current state of things. Utopia doesn’t exist neither here nor there; and sure, Canada’s policies, in comparison to the United States, might be much more aligned with the way I think, but that could change in a few years. And that’s what I love about my field – there’s always going to be room for improvement and nothing is for certain. But to be able to work towards betterment is something that I strive for in my personal and academic, and hopefully in the future, in my professional life.
The people I met in the program and the people I worked with every day made each day in Ottawa that much more exciting. Like I mentioned earlier, I’m relatively new in my major, and this was the first time in my life I was surrounded by so many people who cared about the same things as me. I can genuinely say that I can see myself being friends with many of my fellow interns for the rest of my time at OSU, if not longer. My coworkers and other professionals I met made me realize that success in my field is not far-fetched and that there’s so many opportunities for growth and realization of my goals in the future.
Finally, the city of Ottawa and the beautiful architecture of the parliamentary buildings around me inspired me to learn about the history of the city, and reminded me of the same feeling of possibility and productivity I get when I’m in my own capital city of DC. Everyday in my office, we’d have Question Period (a session where members of parliament can ask other members or the PM questions about how representative of their constituents they really are) streaming, and I loved knowing that, if I wanted to, I could attend the session myself only a few doors over. I fell in love with this accessibility and transparency and took advantage of it every moment I got.
All in all, this internship experience was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I’m so, so glad I chose to participate in it. It exceeded my expectations and helped me learn so much about myself and where I can see my future going, and for that, I am so grateful that I participated in STEP and learned about CPIP, because I really wouldn’t trade my time in Ottawa this summer for anything. It was, is and will remain irreplaceable.