This summer, I worked with the cultural and political sections of the Polish Embassy in Washington, DC. One of the main projects that I completed this summer was a research project on 50 U.S. universities that offer Slavic programs. I had to categorize these into universities that offer Polish Studies programs, Polish language courses, and even courses that offer Slavic language courses that aren't Polish (such as Russian). I composed this list so that the embassy would have a list for students interested in studying Polish language or culture in the United States. I had to compile and organize a lot of data for this in Excel, so my Excel and research skills that I've learned through studying economics was helpful. I also dealt with a lot of Excel data when I was planning guest lists for various Embassy events. Another project I worked on was a speech for the Ambassador for a conference on defense. I assisted Embassy staff in drafting a speech for the Ambassador on the topic of Poland's views on defense, Russian aggression, and the idea of increasing American troops stationed in Poland.
I was also able to attend two different meetings at the EU Delegation in DC. The first meeting I attended was a briefing on the European Defense Fund presented by Mr. Pierre Delsaux, Deputy Director-General of Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship, and SMEs at the European Commission. This was really interesting for me because it was a very relevant topic for the EU and I was preparing for my study abroad where I would be interning with the European Parliament! The other meeting I attended was a briefing for all the department heads of the cultural section at the EU embassies in DC. It was a briefing on the recent Open House event and how to improve it next year.
The Open House Event is also something I participated in while I was at the embassy. Every year, the EU embassies open their doors to the public for just one day a year. This allows the public to meet the staff, see the inside of the embassy, and learn a little bit about the country of the embassy they're visiting. This year the Polish embassy had a pianist playing Polish music (like Chopin's works), pierogi and sausage for people to taste, and various books and pamphlets for people to learn more about Poland, among other things. I helped to set up and organize things for the day of the event and was also there on the day along with the Embassy staff, helping to coordinate the event and make sure everything was going smoothly.
Finally, I helped set up and organize various cultural events, such as the Embassy Adoption Program and film screenings at the Ambassador's Residence, St. John Paul II National Shrine, and the White House. The Embassy Adoption Program is a program that involves the Embassy working with one DC public school (elementary or middle) each year. The students meet with Embassy staff and learn something about Poland at every meeting. At the end of the program, they visit the embassy and have a poster presentation of what they learned as well as a tour of the Embassy. The film screenings involve showing movies that exhibit Polish culture, such as the movie about JPII helping to end communism in Europe that was showed at the JPII Shrine as well as the movie about JPII and Ronald Reagan that was shown at the White House. I also helped translate various documents, including a letter about the culturally important Kuncewicz family memorabilia that are currently in the US that Poland is asking to be returned.
I was able to do a lot and I really enjoyed my time at the embassy! I'm currently interested in learning more about diplomatic work, so it was a good experience to see what that looked like. I was also able to talk to the Economics Section of the embassy to get an idea of what their day-to-day duties involved (they were not accepting interns at the time). I was lucky to be able to work with the different sections of the embassy to see how the embassy functions as a whole.