My global theme is Inequality and Human Rights. This theme means different things to different people, but I use it to explore how the world is shaped by disparities in education, gender equality, and political power. Inequalities are woven into the institutions, norms, and language around us. When enough people find these inconsistencies unacceptable, we have a chance to change.
This summer, I went to Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. and interned in Senator Amy Klobuchar’s office. I was in the gallery while the historic infrastructure vote was passed, I saw Dr. Anthony Fauci walk down the hallway, and I listened to the Capitol Policemen’s testimonies on the January 6th insurrection. Washington D.C., itself is proof of forward motion, positive change, and history created.
The most important thing to me was being exposed to different people from different places with different life experiences and world views. I’ve been in Montana for most of my life, often around like-minded people. The internship was in a Minnesota office, where I met with Texas delegations, ate with Maine interns and talked with people from around the United States. We got to discuss different issues, their opinions, and our preferred outcomes. This was worth the trip.
Most importantly, this experience showed me the leader I don’t want to be. Another intern and I were chosen to sign Senators and their staff into a committee meeting our first week. When we got to the meeting, it was set up differently than requested. Without missing a beat, the man in charge started yelling. He was yelling at the catering staff, his own employees, into his phone, at the interns. I had never heard someone talk to people so harshly. The other intern and I left that meeting thankful he was not our permanent boss. If there comes a day when I talk to someone like he talked to those around him, I will rescind my place as a leader. He showed no compassion, sympathy, or patience, three very important traits.
Coming away from this experience, I know that the political world is not for me, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. There are still cultures and environments I haven’t met and problems we haven’t solved.