Treat Schubert and Vida Wang participated in the Canada-U.S. virtual internship program with the Consulate General of Canada in Seattle during summer 2021. Read about their experiences below.
Treat Schubert, International Studies and Linguistics
The first time I was accepted to intern at the Consulate General of Canada in Seattle was winter 2021, a time when both the United States and Canada saw unprecedented spikes in COVID-19 and students at the University of Washington began our third quarter in a row completely on Zoom. This summer, although still online, my second quarter at the consulate came as the U.S.-Canada border reopened to American travelers after being closed for 16 months. With this reopening, much of my work centered around researching and retrieving information within a day of assignment in order to ensure the consulate was kept up-to-date. Small projects included compiling contact information of Pacific Northwest journalists, tracking news articles, and calculating trade data between select states and Canada. This is not to mention infrastructure research and assisting in developing the consulates social media presence by extensively analyzing social media page of other diplomatic organizations. Since I had had very little professional experience with marketing and successfully managing social media presence, this was a terrific learning experience. It could even aid me in establishing an Instagram page for the consulate here in Seattle, if I were to go for a third interning stint in the future. One of the longer projects assigned this summer involved the opioid crisis and how American media covers the crisis on the Canadian side of the border. Rather than negative publicity surrounding orverdoses and deaths, much of Seattle and Portland news report on Vancouver’s solutions over the past decade as innovative and models for our municipalities south of the border. Some solutions have already been implemented, such as providing emergency relief kits to bars around Seattle, but others, e.g. safe injection sites, still seem far off. Nevertheless, reporting an area where Canada is viewed as a model was much needed news among a spring and summer of reckoning for the nation. Rather than celebrating Canada Day last month, I helped the consulate promote a virtual series they organized showcasing First Nations, folk, and neo-traditional music in Canada. This created a week of rekindling cultural roots and connecting Canadians and Americans to each other through music in the month before the border reopening. Though COVID-19 will be with us for some time to come and as time goes on we will continue to reckon with our past as Canadians and Americans, this summer at the consulate felt more productive, more hopeful, and helped me look to the future rather than be stuck longing for a pre-COVID past.
Vida Wang, Law, Societies, and Justice
With the completion of my virtual learning assignment at the Consulate General of Canada in Seattle, I look back at my experience with an appreciation for all the people I had the pleasure of working alongside and the newfound knowledge I have gained. While my summer session overlapped with a time where there was significant movement in staff, including my initial supervisor transitioning out of his role and being replaced by another official on the Foreign Policy and Diplomacy Service Team, the support I received was consistent throughout the process. As a whole, the Consulate strives to better the U.S.-Canada relationship in areas of political, economic, environmental, border security, defense, cultural and diplomatic elements. Therefore, my projects also reflected this commitment. In addition to the ongoing tasks I had which involved the meticulous combing through of databases such as United Census Bureau and Statistics Canada for data to include in a Pacific Northwest region economic report, as well as the gathering information on state funded infrastructure projects in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington currently or potentially delayed by Buy American language included in the $1 Trillion Infrastructure Bill, I also had less-intensive assignments which included writing a legal disclaimer for a publication out of the Western Washington University Border Policy Research Institute, drafting a congratulatory letter for a former honorary consul, and documenting media reactions to the U.S.-Canada border closure extension. Beyond these commitments, I was attending weekly one-on-one conversations with one of the Senior Program Officers and participating in Foreign Policy and Diplomacy Service team meetings. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my internship and I look forward to collaborating with the team once again during a future quarter – hopefully in person next time!
The International Learning Assignment Program (virtual internship) provides interns with an opportunity to learn about Canada-U.S. relationship from Canadian diplomats and governmental affairs experts. Interns will engage in political and economic research, support policy development and advocacy efforts, and think creatively and practically about digital diplomacy.
The International Learning Assignment is a partnership between the Consulate General of Canada, Seattle; the Canadian Studies Center in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington (UW); and, UW’s Career and Internship Center.