An Internship with a Senator

This summer, we asked our CAMP summer interns to share their experiences on our blog. Here’s Chiawen Chiang’s first post:

I’m not quite sure what drove me to work in the oh-so-very-prestigious-sounding office of Senator Bam Aquino. Perhaps it was that inkling of wanting to experience the world of politicians and law. Maybe I wanted to take on the world, or shed a little more hope to our poverty riddled country.  Whatever it was, the past two weeks of working in their office was one of the most amazing experiences I encountered. From interviewing micro entrepreneurs on the street to attending high-end meetings with professionals, I’m confident that this internship will be the most exciting part of my summer.

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To be honest, I walked into the Senate of the Philippines expecting a cold business world—sleek black blazers and intimidating grey cubicles. What I got was a totally different result. On my first day, I was introduced to the friendship table: a round dining room style table in the middle of the office wherein meals are enjoyed and food is ever-present. On day one, I found mangusteen and durian pastillas, to which the senator used as a starting conversation with me, and on day two, siopao from Chow King and a mysterious snack that looked like a darker version of Stick-o. Other than that, an entire walk-in cabinet was dedicated to food: ovens, microwaves, a large refrigerator containing soda and chocolate, and the best of all, Ovaltine. Hands down, the food was amazing. But the people were even better. From the moment I became their intern, I was welcomed into a family—an all singing, constantly eating family. It was evident that these people were more than just coworkers. Just last week, there was an office meeting wherein everyone shared their “monthly high”, something that cheered them up or made them very happy in the past few weeks. On my second day, I cheered for team Senator Bam in the basketball championship game between the manongs of two offices. Needless to say, the office of Senator Bam Aquino was nothing close to what I originally expected.

Despite the amazing food and even more amazing people, none of these impressed me as much as the experiences I gathered from working as their intern. In my first week alone, I met the senator, discovered the subtle majesty of the senate library, encoded bills, took a taxi ride alone for the first time, attended a meeting with representatives about the Gonegsyo Bill, attended Design Thinking Sessions, met inspiring post-graduate students, interviewed sari-sari store owners, covered a wall with post-its, got lost in Manila, took a taxi alone for the second time, used internet that seemed even faster than Korea’s, met more inspiring revolutionary individuals, covered more walls with post-its, helped execute the Gonegosyo Bill, and all in all, see the world through a different lens.

Although my experiences in the first week were exciting, what truly amazed me the most out of all was the fact that every individual I met, no matter how different from each other, came together against the odds because of the simple truth they care about their nation. These individuals made effort like I did, travelling miles from different locations to meet at one spot to share ideas, conceptualize plans, and work together for a common goal. The workers of the senate, the volunteers in the Design Thinking Sessions, and even the people in the meeting I attended, all work for a cause greater than themselves. Despite the difficulties, it’s good to know that people believe that the responsibility of constructing a nation doesn’t lie on the shoulders of the few.

Chiawen Chiang is a student at PAREF-Woodrose School.

The CAMP summer internship program is designed to provide high school students with professional work experience before attending university. Read more about the program here.

Follow Bam Aquino on Twitter.