Aug 01 2011
Overall, my experience at the International Trade Administration was very enlightening. It allowed me to explore the interworking of the federal government while challenging me on a hot issue, that is, rare earth elements. My most enjoyable aspect of the experience was running around Washington, meeting with various heads of industry, government officials, and trade representatives. Each person had their own perspective on D.C. and it was interesting to see that the perspectives varied so greatly. Many were proud to know that the system worked efficiently and that they were part of it. Others took a more cynical view, often starting that it took too much time for anything concrete to make its way through the “bureaucratic nightmare.”
In my opinion, D.C. works the same way any democratic system works. Each step in the process is a check and balance to ensure that no agency or organization has too much influence in policy making. Sure, China is able to pass bills through congress overnight, but they don’t have a Bill of Rights, do they? Every system has to give up something to gain another.
Overall, D.C. is a great place full of energy. I’m often annoyed when people describe great cities such as New York and D.C. being full of “energy”, but there is not really a better word for it. The streets are full of pro-active people in search to be part of the next hot button issue. Back home, many of my close friends would have no idea about issues I explored during my employment at the Dept. of Commerce. In D.C., it seems like everyone has read the latest issue of the Economist or New York Times, and is ready to go with whatever opinion they may have on the subject. To me, that is excitement. Being part of system. And I would not give up this summer’s experience for any other one.
I would like to thank Jane Early, my director and supervisor at the Office of Health and Consumer Goods at the ITA for giving me great insight and direction throughout the summer. I would also like to thank Professor Michelle Forzley for giving me this opportunity.