March 7, 2018 | Hello again all! It's Molly and the last time you heard from me, I was participating in the #InstagramTakeover. When giving you a peek inside the life of a Foreign Policy student, I showed you embassies, talked about going to internationally-motivated think tanks, and illustrated the extensive opportunities provided to me by this program. But for me, in general and especially now, it's all about the people. The lunches we have gotten as a class in between our sessions, the dinners we eat after an evening speaker, and the level of intellectual discourse and thought we have as a group is amazing. From all over the world, our minds come together to create a safe space where not only diversity and inclusion and thrive, but our viewpoints can be challenged and changed by the thoughts of others. Could this be a practice experience of what diplomacy is? Well, the art of persuasion is not intertwined in our encounters, but perhaps…
Since I last wrote you all, I filled 1 entire composition notebook of notes. Yes, I am learning THAT much. This week, my class and I got to attend an event put on at the Navy Memorial by the McCain Institute for International Leadership titled "Nuclear North Korea: Is War the Way Ahead?" We heard from 4 qualified, experts in the field on the subject in a debate-format talk. As a budding foreign policy nerd, this was very exciting to me because I had the chance to discern which "side" I agreed with. Luckily, the panel (though divided into two "teams") agreed on many of the topics and ideas they shared. That is one thing I love about foreign policy - the capability of diplomats to engage with people that they might perceive as "the other side" to be able to come to an agreement, because it is in everyone's (literally, everyone) interest to agree.
With my Political Communications class, we had the opportunity to hear from Marco Rubio's former Communications Director as well as a VP from Spotify. I have loved getting the variety of experience by adding the Political Communications class to my workload this semester. I began the semester feeling woefully underqualified for the class, as I have absolutely no background in Communications as an area of study (not to be confused with my experience communicating, which I do have) but our professor has made the transition seem seamless and easy. Our class also attended Meet the Press and got to ask Chuck Todd how he keeps up with President Trump's tweets before his Sunday morning show (his answer: usually Trump does not tweet that much right before his show, so he can usually keep up. However, the morning we attended the show, Trump had tweeted 13 times, and Chuck had to be given a print out from his aide for each one of them).
My internship has also been going very well. I love getting to work at AFSA, and love getting to engage with people in the office who are dedicated to helping US diplomats. My supervisor is so great and funny, and I feel like the work I am doing is important and matters. Currently, I am working on AFSA's National High School Essay Contest, gathering submissions and talking with potential applicants. This is one of my favorite parts of the job because the contest is specifically geared toward high school students with parents NOT in the Foreign Service, who are people like me!
I have been experiencing as many aspects of DC life as possible in these short months I am here. I subscribe to Politico Playbook and read it every morning on the train in to work and TWO times I have been asked for directions, so I feel like I have totally assimilated into DC culture. I'm also frantically applying for future internships and trying to get enough sleep every night, so I must be a university student. Recently, I also went to the Air and Space Museum. Something you should know about me- I absolutely love stars, and going to see the sights at the Air and Space Museum was incredible for me. Two of my friends and I got to see the Discovery Space Shuttle launch through an incredible video. And though it was inspiring to see inside the Museum, I learned one important DC lesson: ALWAYS. CHECK. THE. WEATHER. I decided it was going to be a good idea to wear my lightest winter coat, which did not have a hood, and the weather decided it was going to be a good idea to rain/snow (also known as graupel) throughout the duration of the time we needed to stand outside to be let into the museum. I also went to Chinatown for a Chinese New Year Parade. This was an interesting cultural experience, as I actually lived in China for 2 Chinese New Year's and saw 2 years of celebrations by Chinese people. Though the parade was not as Chinese as I was hoping, it was wonderful to be in Chinatown and to see the arch over the main street off the metro stop. My friends and I then went to get Chinese food in Friendship Heights (because it was SO crowded in Chinatown after the parade). It was a beautiful day, and fun to be out and about with friends! In all, I cannot emphasize enough the amount of opportunity, experience, and excitement this program has brought me in the past couple of weeks. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know this city's ins and outs through multiple lenses: as a student and as an intern. I know that the people I have met here will be forever friends, and people that I will keep in touch with for years to come. I can't wait to live more life and see where all my friends from WSP wind up, because I know they are going to do BIG things for and in this world. See you next time!
February 8, 2018 | My name is Molly Quillin, and I am a sophomore at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA where I major in Political Science and International Relations and minor in Spanish. Here at the Washington Semester Program (WSP), I am in the Foreign Policy Concentration. I am originally from Portland, Oregon, and had the life-changing experience of living in Beijing, China for two years with my whole family. I love theatre, reading, writing, laughing with friends, my dog, travel, and I am extremely passionate about social justice, international relations, and advocacy and politics in general.
Three weeks ago, I moved into Leonard Hall at American to begin my journey in DC with WSP. These past three weeks have been an absolute whirlwind; from the classes, to the internship I started, to the friends I have met, I feel absolutely and completely overwhelmed, but in the best way. I feel like I'm on the edge of something great, something that is just beginning and that I can't wait to further explore.
So far in DC I have done a myriad of things. I started my Foreign Policy Seminar and my seminar is simply AMAZING. My professor is engaging, my classmates are wonderful, and the subject matter is so intriguing. In our class, we have a great balance of lecture and discussion with visiting speakers. I have thoroughly enjoyed his teaching style so far and find that each class feels like a discussion with the amount of eye contact and personal connection that our professor gives each student. So far in class, we have talked about the Liberal World Order and America First Foreign Policy. These subjects have been excellent introductions to US foreign engagement and relations.
I am also enrolled in an elective class called Political Communications, where we have begun learning how a Communications Director would go about advertising a candidate, book, or song. We have been using Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff as an example and talking about how Twitter was an essential component of the marketing strategy.
Additionally, this past Monday I began my internship at the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA). So far, I love my office and work at AFSA. At AFSA I am the Special Awards and Outreach intern, and I collect nominations and award current Foreign Service Officers (FSOs) for their achievements, as well as coordinate the High School Essay Writing Contest AFSA hosts each year. Already I have learned the value of organization and what makes an exemplary FSO.
And finally, I have explored DC with my new friends! So far in DC, I have…
- Wandered around the National Mall (in the oddly warm weather) at night.
- Went to the Martin Luther King Jr. Monument with a group at AU.
- Explored Georgetown's wealth of cupcakes: Sprinkles and Georgetown Cupcakes.
- Went to the Cato Institute, the Center for New American Security, and the UN Foundation with my Foreign Policy concentration class.
- Participated in the Woman's March on Washington with people who live on my floor, who are in the GAP Program in addition to the WSP.
- I mastered public transportation in DC, finally deciding to take the Metro train over the bus and planning a route and time to leave my dorm each morning (this was much harder than I was anticipating).
- Explored a few of the many coffee shops of Dupont Circle friends from my class (Emissary and Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café).
I am having a grand adventure in DC, and I have also reserved time to catch up with my friends from my home university, my family, and my Jane the Virgin. I have made some great friends: some who have also lived in foreign countries, some who know my friends from my home university (it's a small world!), and some who are simply dedicated to a life of justice. These people are enigmatic, and it is energizing to be around a group of people who want to talk politics, current events, and foreign policy all day, every day. I cannot wait to see where this semester will take me, and all the people I will meet who will inevitably become my forever friends.