Friday, April 8, 2016

EUC Washington DC Trip 2016: Part Two

Photo by Maxime Larivé 

By Bethany Glock

As a part of the professional development of our MAEUS students, the European Union Center offers students the opportunity for a trip to Washington D.C. in the Spring semester. This year's trip happened from March 21 to the 24.  This article is Part Two of a series of posts written by different MAEUS students.  In this article, Bethany Glock writes about the second day of the trip, March 22.  Previous entries in this series can be found here.

On Tuesday, we awoke to the terrible news about the terrorist attacks in Brussels. Over a quick breakfast at Starbucks, we had some time to process what information about the attacks was available as well as our own thoughts about it before heading to our first meeting of the day at the U.S. Department of State.

Photo by Maxime Larivé
There we met with two public opinion analysts and a Foreign Service Officer who discussed the nature of their work and how they got to their current positions. The Foreign Service Officer was himself a graduate of the University of Illinois. However, the main points they made were ones we would hear numerous times before we left DC: make good connections and be kind to others. It’s not that being excellent at what you do is unimportant, but lots of people are exceptional. Moving up also depends on being able to work with those around you.

When we went to lunch following our meeting, we were joined by a friend of mine who I knew from my undergraduate institution and is now an intern at the State Dept. It was great to catch up and talk about how she likes living and working in DC and hear her perspective on what life in Washington after grad school is like as someone who is currently living it.

Photo by Maxime Larivé
Our next stop was the EU Delegation to the US. Of course, the subject on everyone’s minds was Brussels, so they addressed that issue first. They told us that the response from the US was extremely swift and the EU and US have established strong law enforcement co-operation. We also discussed the migrant crisis, climate change, energy security, and Brexit. Though I am sure we could have talked for much longer, we had to be on our way to our next meeting.

Our next stop was at the Swedish embassy, where we met with two Swedish diplomats. One of them was a specialist in trade and economy, and the other was a specialist in fine arts and culture. It was fascinating not only to hear their thoughts on Sweden, the EU, and the United States, but also to hear them discuss how they became diplomats because neither of them took a very orthodox route. One of them was once a cowboy in Colorado!

Finally, we ended the day by walking around Georgetown, where we saw Georgetown University as well as the very pleasant (and expensive!) neighborhood around it. An excellent dinner together ended our very long but very informative day.

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