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Internships for Students – A Successful Way to Increase Political Awareness

Ranjani Saigal

The New England chapter of the Indo-American forum for political education (IAFPE) presented internship awards at their ninth annual summer internship fundraiser held on April 22nd at the Lexington Lodge of the Elks in Lexington,MA. Iris Das(Boston College),Arti Dua(Brandeis),Rohan Kapoor(Babson College),Sumit Mallick(Boston College),Meena Sharma(Tufts Univ),Rashima Shukla(Brandeis)and Satwiksai Seshasai(M I T) were selected for this special award.

The event was a star studded one featuring many local politicians including, Shannon O’Brien (Massachusetts State Treasurer and Democratic Candidate for Governor), John Slattery (Peabody state rep and democratic candidate for Lt. Governor), Clare Dalton (Professor at Northeastern University Law School and wife of Robert Reich, Democratic Candidate for Governor), Kamal Jain (Libertarian Party Candidate for State Auditor). IAFPE has been working hard for over fifteen years to bring political awareness to the Indian American community.

Since 1994 IAFPE has sponsored many college students for the Summer Political Internships. These internships provide students with a unique opportunity to learn first-hand about the political process and what it takes to get involved. The interns spend about 6-10 weeks working in the office of a Congressman or Senator or in a State or Federal Government agency. Past internships have been at the White House, Congress, State House and Indian Embassy and in various governmental agencies such as Department of Energy. The New England chapter of IAFPE pioneered this innovative concept and it has been a very successful program. Many former interns speak very highly of their internship experience. IAFPE seeks out the internships, identifies suitable candidates for internships and raises funds to pay their summer salary.

The political invitees lauded the internship program and addressed the interns. “I think I gained the most appreciation of public service and the political process during internships at political offices that I had done as a student. I think such programs are critical for creating political awareness” said Shannon O’Brien. All the politicians while expreressing their respect for the Indian-American community and assuring their support, hoped many people would opt for public service. “One must bring passion to politics. Also one must always remember where you come from. You as interns should remember your Indian-American heritage “ said Rep John Slattery. Clare Dalton talked about her husband’s campaign. Kamal Jain urged people to remember that “getting involved” should go beyond just the government. "You should look to get involved in the community around you".

Dr. Dwarika Aggarwal, the co-chair of the fundraising committee, presented the awards to the interns. Dr. Shobha Sequeria, Member at-large presented a vote of thanks. To learn more about IAFPE-NE and their programs please go to their website at www.iafpe-ne.org.

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