Written by Lily Harrison, Capital Semester Program Director
Mark Funkhouser hails from North Carolina where he is pursuing a degree in Peace, War and Defense Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is currently in Washington, DC, participating in the Capital Semester Spring 2013 program. After studying abroad in Montpelier France, Mark was looking for an internship in an international setting to further develop his French language skills. His internship this semester at the Embassy of Gabon is the perfect fit. Read Mark’s take on what it is like to intern at an Embassy in Washington, DC.
“The Gabonese Republic is a Central African country on the west coast whose primary language is French. The embassy is an interesting cultural mix of Gabonese and American culture where a conversation can begin in French and end in English. Although it is a small country, the embassy here is always busy. Whether it is a delegation needing to meet with the ambassador or a solar energy company wanting to invest in the region, there is always work to be done.
The main purpose of the embassy in the U.S. is communication. It is the direct link between Gabonese interests and U.S. interests. When an individual wants to go to Gabon for prospective investment opportunities, it is the embassy that decides if they meet requirements for a visa. When there are trade agreements or other interactions between the U.S. and Gabon, it is the ambassador’s job to communicate that information between the two nations.
As Gabon continues to develop its economy and see social progress, it is the embassy’s job to inform the rest of the world about that progress. It must communicate the country’s new visions and desires for the future. This is done through cultural seminars, exhibitions, various types of media, etc. The whole purpose is to serve the needs of the home country in the U.S. as best possible.
During my time at the embassy I am rotating through the different departments in order to learn how each one operates and the types of issues they deal with. Then I will have the opportunity to work directly with the ambassador on the most important issues of the embassy. Overall, it has been a great experience that has taught me more about the country and working in a professional environment, than I ever would have thought possible in such a short time.”
If you have an interest in foreign affairs and are considering coming to Washington, DC to intern, please visit www.DCinternships.org/CS to learn more about Capital Semester!