Sydney Latimore ’18 interned in the European Parliament branch in Brussels, Belgium for the 2017 Winter term. The following is an excerpt from her internship report.
Over the course of the winter 2017 term, I had the opportunity to intern with the European Parliament branch in Brussels, Belgium. In the first week I was tossed into the melee of preparation for the monthly trip to Strasbourg, France where Members of Parliament (MEPs) travel to meet and vote on legislative proposals. I quickly learned how my work fit into the larger mission of Parliament and I was just as quickly introduced to the complexities of a governing body that is responsible for 28 unique countries.
I worked specifically for the office of William Dartmouth, an MEP who is also on the International Trade Committee. In kind, I dedicated much of my time researching the economic impacts of developments such as Brexit both on the United Kingdom as a whole and on the day-to-day lives of British citizens. Although I did not agree with my MEP’s politics, I took advantage of the opportunity to explore the thought process and approach to public service from someone I would not normally interact with. I even had the chance to travel to the United Kingdom for a party meeting where I got to speak with locals and hear their concerns about the current state of affairs.
An important part of my internship was learning about international trade and its attachment to public policy agendas. I did not have much background in this area, but over the last 10 weeks, I’ve learned about the intricacies of international trade and how it is informed by, at times, volatile political climates. The connection between international trade and public policy is not one I would have drawn on my own; I thoroughly enjoyed learning about this outside of the formal academic setting.
Another great element of my internship was travelling throughout Europe, a place I had not previously visited. I went to work dinners hosted all over Brussels which allowed me to see the city and make professional connections with people from all over the European Union. Moreover, I had the opportunity to travel to Strasbourg, France for the monthly plenary session. Not only is the view from the Strasbourg Parliament building breath-taking, the building itself has historical significance which was interesting to learn about. Finally, I travelled to Bolton, U.K. for the biannual UKIP (U.K. Independence Party) constituency meeting.
In closing, allow me to say the following: I remember starting the Rockefeller Global Leadership Program during my freshman spring and being excited to interact with other students who were as interested as I was in living a globally conscious life. It was because of this program that I went ahead and got my passport and it was at this moment that the world opened itself to me for learning, adventure, and growth. The Rockefeller Internship grant made all the difference in my ability to pursue an internship with the European Parliament. With this funding I had the opportunity to work with a public policy organization in a foreign environment during politically tumultuous times. I experienced first-hand how bureaucracy can just as easily harm, as it does protect, everyday citizens. Further, my experience here reminded me why it is so deeply important to have qualified people in political offices and it showed me that our lives can be used in ways big and small to leave indelible marks on people we never even meet.