Croissants, stagiaires, and visitor badges: What do these things have in common? They can all be found at the briefings I helped organize this summer for EU stagiaires (interns) to help them learn more about transatlantic relations.
Since starting my Public Affairs (PA) internship this summer with the U.S. Mission to the EU (USEU), I’ve realized that youth outreach is an important part of the Mission’s work. The Mission has various programs that are focused on youth and aim to foster better relationships between the U.S. and the EU.
One program that has been helpful building these relationships is the breakfast briefing series for EU stagiaires, which is organized by PA interns like myself. These briefings give some 20 EU stagiaires an opportunity to discuss current issues of U.S.-EU interest with U.S. diplomats over an informal meal of croissants and coffee.
This summer, I helped organize three breakfast briefings and one half-day briefing for stagiaires from the EU Commission, Council, and Parliament. The topic for the first breakfast briefing was climate with Susan Vesel, USEU’s Science and Technology Officer. The second briefing with David DiGiovanna, Humanitarian and Migration Affairs Officer, focused on migration issues. The last breakfast briefing was a tag-team affair with Political Officers Zia Syed and Matthew Lehrfeld. This was a fun event for the stagiaires because they had the opportunity to have discussions on the opportunities and challenges of the transatlantic relationship with two officers over breakfast. The response was enthusiastic, and for each event I had to start a waiting list because so many people wanted to be involved.
The big finale was a half-day briefing that included a Q&A with Ambassador Gardner. It was very exciting – and a bit nerve-wracking – to plan an event with someone as high-level as the Ambassador. But in the end it all went well. He was a great speaker and connected well with the stagiaires (as you can see in the top photo), perhaps in part because he had once been in their shoes as an EU intern himself.
Planning these events has been a great learning experience. Not only did I get a chance to make contacts within several EU institutions, but I learned a lot from hearing the diplomats speak about the issues they work on. The feedback from the stagiaires was very positive, and they really enjoyed getting the chance to visit the Mission. It felt great to be trusted with the responsibility to plan these events, and it didn’t hurt to get a nice cup of coffee and a hot croissant in the process.
By Kristine Marshall, intern in USEU’s Public Affairs Office