By Deanna Javadi
July 19, 2012, Washington, D.C. -The PAAIA Capitol Hill Internship Program (CHIP) is a great way to be exposed to the U.S. Congress. The program, sponsored by Dr. Akbar Ghahary, provides interested Iranian Americans with the opportunity to intern on Capitol Hill. This summer, as a CHIP intern, I was placed in the office of Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards of Fort Washington, who represents Maryland’s 4th Congressional District, comprising portions of Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties.
Working closely with the Congresswoman’s legislative staff, I was privy to the inner workings of a congressional office. The Congresswoman maintains offices on Capitol Hill as well as her District in Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties. While the Capitol Hill office is primarily responsible for legislative issues, the District offices are focused on congressional casework and outreach. I have had the opportunity to interact and work with staff members from all offices.
My responsibilities largely cover legislative work and constituent services. I have served as a point of contact for constituents in Maryland’s 4th Congressional District, researched and responded to questions and inquiries, and attended to the various duties that support this important duty. I have learned first-hand about the issues that the constituents face, how certain legislation impacts the residents of the Congressional District, and how Congresswoman Edwards addresses and advocates for her constituents’ needs.
Secondly, through my legislative work, I was able to research and attend multiple hearings and briefings on the Hill. This has allowed me to learn how policy issues are considered, made, and enacted. One of my best memories of this work is the day when the Affordable Care Act was upheld by the Supreme Court. It was a joy to see the Congresswoman celebrate both her birthday and the Supreme Court decision, holding the Bill’s enactment gavel in her hand.
But above all else, I truly recognize the unique opportunity I have been afforded to be able to experience the legislative branch of the government. It would be any intern’s wish or dream to be able to work in a Congressional office, understand the inner workings of policy decisions, constituent services, and what it takes for congressional offices to meet the diverse needs of the people they represent. Congresswoman Donna Edwards is an inspiration for all of those who work with her and are witness to her hard work and accomplishments. As this internship comes to a close, I find myself with a new found interest and admiration for public service.
It is hard to express how greatly I appreciate the immense support PAAIA has provided me this summer. In addition to the internship, PAAIA has allowed me to become involved in its NexGen and Mentorship Programs. I have not only been able to meet and learn from some of the most successful and accomplished Iranian Americans in the D.C. area, but have also connected with fellow Iranian Americans starting their own career path, just like myself.