Wabash Blogs Immersion 2009: D.C. Externships

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Discussion with Fukuyama, coffee at the Polish Embassy

Filip Lempa '11

My externship at the Embassy of Afghanistan has been a truly dynamic and extraordinary experience. On the second day of the externship I was given the task to research major U.S. publications in order to look for opinion editorials concerning Afghanistan. I prepared a spreadsheet which was further analyzed by the employees of the Embassy. I was soon informed that the Embassy prepared a response to one of the op-ed articles posted by The New York Times. The response was sent and The New York Times agreed to publish it. It really felt that even though I’m spending just a few days
at the Afghan Embassy, I have the opportunity to make significant contribution. The externship, however, was getting more exciting every day.

On the third day I represented the Embassy on a discussion titled: "Democracy in U.S. Security Strategy: From Promotion to Support” that took place in the Washington D.C. Center for Strategic and International Studies building. The discussion featured three contributing authors: Larry Diamond, a leading contemporary scholar in the field of democracy studies, Francis Fukuyama, a political economist and philosopher, and Michael McFaul, a professor of political science and director of the
Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law at Stanford University. The connection between academics and global experience, both provided through Wabash College, immediately came to my mind. The first text I have read at a political science course at our college was a
chapter from the State-Building: Governance and World Order in the 21st Century book by Mr. Fukuyama. I found it extremely interesting and rewarding to be able to have a brief chat with Mr. Fukuyama after the event.

On the last day of the externship my Afghan host, Ashraf Haidiri ‘01, took me to a meeting with the First Secretary in the political section of the Polish Embassy, Marcin Piotrowski. We spent over an hour discussing Polish military involvement in Afghanistan and other issues concerning
both countries. I found it amazing to participate in such a high-level diplomatic experience. In the late afternoon of that day I also attended a networking dinner organized by Joseph Hynds ’86. The dinner was a very upscale yet informal and fun. All three networking events our group participated in during the externship experience made a very positive impression on me. Although Crawfordsville is not at all close to Washington D.C. the alumni group from this region, currently led by Jefferson Crew ‘01, is strong and very involved.

The spring break Washington D.C. externship was a phenomenal experience. I am very thankful for the generosity of the Graham family and would recommend it to every Wabash student.