Alfonc Rakaj is a senior at Oregon State University, majoring in Political Science and International Studies. Alfonc interned for the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, Scotland through IE3 Global Internships.
During spring ’12, I interned at the Scottish Parliament located in Edinburgh, Scotland. Although, I was only there for ten weeks, the amount of learning, self-discovery and experience complimented my studies and enriched my perspective of the world, which lead to a profound level of self-formation. An internship like the one at the Scottish Parliament is truly a learning process, whose essence can only be attained through experience.
Even though I was born and raised in Albania, the experience furthered my understanding of multiculturalism. What I have come to adopt as normal for Albanian culture and the American culture, which has become my own to a certain degree as well, was put to the test. While Scotland shared similar cultural attributes to other European countries and the United States, it was fascinating to discover how Scotland was very unique in its own way.
As an intern, I participated in various activities: exit polling in suburbs of Glasgow, (yes, there were times when I couldn’t understand a word they were saying), parliamentary sessions, meetings with various parliamentary committees and receptions. Also, I worked on some very interesting legislative topics. I conducted research on various topics from the history of the Sikh to complex topics, such as the regulations of the European Union on the licensing of Notified Bodies, who are responsible for conducting conformity assessments, directly linked to the products used for plastic surgeries. At other times, I read submissions of interest groups on specific pieces of legislation that was being considered, particularly health care reform. It was vital to stay informed about current events.
Overall, the research allowed me to better understand Scotland’s culture. The process helped me connect with the office staff that I was working with. I was struck by the sincerity and dedication they work with to represent the interests of the residents in Scotland. I found this particularly useful as I have encountered a multiple situations where people have prejudged me based on my field of interest. I now have personal evidence that there are good politicians in this world. The international internship not only encouraged my carrier goals to become a politician, but also revived my passion of why I originally wanted to be one.
The Scottish Parliament internship is unique in the opportunities it provides for professional and personal growth. It compliments one’s studies, while furthering one’s knowledge about the world around us and most importantly ourselves. As it was the case when I came to the United States from Albania, I grew to appreciate Oregon State and Corvallis more due to the distance. While costs, rightfully, may make a student hesitant to go abroad, it is important to remember that it is through traveling and experiences, such as an internship, that we become richer.