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Hope College student cherishes opportunity to intern in D.C.

By Jordan Climie/The Holland Sentinel • Mar 29, 2017 at 2:00 PM

Allie DeJongh said she knew from a young age there was more to the world than what some see staying in America.

"I just realized as a 12-year-old how different other cultures are and that I was viewing the world through a certain lens," she said. "There's so many people out there with different backgrounds."

Her realization came thanks to her family living for a short time in Bordeaux, France. Now, she's a junior at Hope College, spending a semester living and working as an intern in Washington, D.C.

"I'm an International Studies major, so it seemed like a great opportunity to come to D.C. where there are so many organizations, nonprofit or government, that focus on aid," she said.

DeJongh has an interest in Middle Eastern politics as well as maternal and children's health, but she says she wants to remain open to learning about other opportunities across the globe, such as Asian politics, particularly U.S.-China relations.

"The main thing is what my next step would be after college and I'm hoping this would help," she said. "Talking to professors in the international development field, (I was advised to) wait to go to grad school and get a few years of good experience, international experience, like the Peace Corps ... just kind of getting out there and experiencing international development and working with a nonprofit before narrowing in on an interest."

DeJongh's internship is part of a program at Hope College, and she's currently among a group of 20 students in Washington gaining experience through internships. The students are advised on different organizations to intern for based on their interests, but it's up to the students themselves to make it happen.

"I heard Washington, D.C., runs on interns, so I don't think anyone couldn't find one," she said.

Now, she's making the most of her time there. She recently attended a Washington Post event, as well as heard Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin speak. She even found a way into an event at French Ambassador Gerard Araud's house.

"I met a friend who works at the French embassy, and he invited me to an event at the French ambassador's residence and it was amazing to hear the ambassador speak," she said.

When she isn't working or networking, DeJongh is finding time to experience the array of cultures a big city like Washington has to offer.

"The district is really diverse and there's a lot of different perspectives I've been hearing," she said. "Meeting people from different walks of life and faith background is really important for my generation especially to have those experiences, and coming from Holland where most people are Protestant Christian, I've made some Muslim friends and gotten to know people of different backgrounds."

DeJongh doesn't see the divisiveness that is often spoken about with President Donald Trump’s administration. In fact, she says she sees the opposite, with a lot of people trying to work together to figure things out.

With her future plans, there's no room for homesickness; and even with her family piling into a van soon to come visit, she's learned not to rush things.

"I think I've just realized now it goes so fast there's no point in wishing you're somewhere else," she said. "When I was 12 in Bordeaux ... I just thought about going back, and nothing had changed. That experience as a 12-year-old really helped me take full advantage of my time away from home and not think about what I'm missing there."

In fact, her plans after she gets back to Holland on April 28 are to take off 10 days later to Vietnam and Japan for a month.

"It's for my senior seminar class that all Hope College students have to take," she said. "They choose to take it on campus or abroad, and as an International Studies major, it seems like a good idea."

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