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NZ United States Council announce 2019 congressional interns

The New Zealand United States Council has today announced the four interns who will be heading to Washington DC to work in the offices of members of Congress for 11 weeks.

The NZUS Council Congressional Internship Programme was established in 2011 and is conducted in partnership with the University of Canterbury, Victoria University of Wellington and Air New Zealand. The internship covers flights, accommodation, visa costs, and a stipend, with the interns departing in mid-November.

The interns are:

§ Gina Bonner, University of Canterbury, placed with California Democrat Representative Linda Sanchez

§ Cameron Eade, University of Canterbury, placed with Missouri Democrat Representative Emanuel Cleaver

§ Lydia Veltman, Victoria University of Wellington, placed with Tennessee Democrat Representative Steve Cohen

§ Samantha O’Hara, Victoria University of Wellington, placed with Indiana Republican Representative Jackie Walorski.

NZUS Council Executive Director Jordan Small says the programme provides our best and brightest with the opportunity to experience the US political system and policy making first-hand, and bring that understanding back to New Zealand and into their careers.

The alumni of the programme, including the 2019/20 intake, now numbers 32 and are the future leaders of business, civil society, government and politics.

"We would love to expand the programme to provide the opportunity to more students from other universities. Our interns have represented us well and have earned the programme a great reputation. We have no problems placing them, in fact, this year we had placed all four within 48 hours," Mr Small says.

"One day it would be great to see our interns also in senators and governors’ offices and leading US think-tanks. This is something we will continue to work towards but will require additional funding and the ongoing generous support of our programme partners."

The support of the programme partners is critical to the success of the programme. Selection for the programme is highly competitive with each university providing a short-list of 5-6 candidates. Candidates submit an application form, their CV and a video outlining why they should be chosen, what they hope to get from the experience, and how it aligns with their future career aspirations.

University of Canterbury Acting Dean of the School of Law, Professor Elizabeth Toomey, says it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for the students. "It’s such a fascinating time for them to be there experiencing US politics and law making at this critical historical juncture. Our students tend to take this experience into their careers in law and are better for it."

Victoria University of Wellington Professor of Political Science Stephen Levine says the programme is often a transformative experience. "This internship is a career launching pad. Interns deepen their understanding of American politics, working within Congress, establishing relationships before returning to New Zealand, where they often go on to pursue careers in the public service. We’ve had alumni of the programme go into policy roles with DPMC, MFAT, MPI and into ministers’ offices."

Air New Zealand’s Head of Corporate Affairs Andrew Kirton says the airline is proud to support the programme. "The USA is a key business, trade and tourism market for New Zealand, and Air NZ has been proud to help strengthen ties between the two countries. This programme is a great initiative to build understanding and relationships and we congratulate this year’s interns on their success."

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