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Riya’s Summer in Washington D.C.

Riya’s Summer in Washington D.C.

This summer, I am doing the The Eisenhower Institute Washington summer fellowship. Through this fellowship, I, along with seven other students from Gettysburg College get opportunities to learn and gain a deeper understanding of important U.S. national policy topics and social issues through weekly seminars and field visits.

A field trip for the fellows at the Eisenhower Institute
Eisenhower Institute weekly seminar

Additionally, I’m doing two part-time internships that are based in Washington D.C. One is the MERL (Monitoring Evaluation Research and Learning) internship with Vital Voices Global Partnership. Vital Voices is an international non-profit that works with global women leaders in the areas of economic empowerment, political participation, and human rights. Although this is a remote internship, I enjoy getting to know and work with everyone in the organization. I’ve been helping the MERL team with data collection and analysis to assess the impact of various programs and projects. This internship allows me to hone my data analytics skills across different software programs such as Stata, Salesforce, Alchemer, and others which are very crucial and relevant to my future career.

Some VOA staff and I having lunch

My other internship is with Voice of America. VOA broadcasts news in 47 languages directly from the headquarters in D.C. to affiliate stations around the world and I work specifically with the Khmer or Cambodian teams. I have been translating news articles from English to Khmer for web publications as well as for radio broadcasts. Although this internship is not specifically related l to my major and minor, I’m equally grateful and excited about this as my main internship with Vital Voices. I grew up sharing a very strong bond with my late grandfather and he was the biggest VOA Khmer fan. I remember hearing the intro sound “Direct from Washington, the Voice of America VOA” on the radio every day from his room as early as 5am in Cambodia time. That influences my interest in international news and more importantly, my dream to study abroad in the U.S. It still feels unreal how now I’m working in the same team with VOA Cambodian journalists whose voices I used to only hear on the radio growing up. I first reached out to VOA to request a studio tour, but because of my enthusiasm and especially, my connection with a Gettysburg and SHE-CAN alum, Vouchnear Ly ’20 who used to intern for VOA Khmer in 2019, I ended up getting the offer.

Me in front of the White House

I’m very grateful for all the support and opportunities that allow me to spend this summer here in Washington D.C. This is probably the most memorable summer for me in the U.S. so far because I not only get to explore my career trajectories with my Economics related internship, but I also get to fulfill my childhood dream which is to be in D.C., the hub of opportunities that I used to only hear from the radio or see on the news when I was back in Cambodia.