This summer, we asked our CAMP summer interns to share their experiences on our blog. Here’s Annicka Koteh’s first post:
I’ll admit that I’m not the most politically aware person around. My knowledge of current events was mostly limited to snippets from the dining table and my Twitter timeline, or the occasional news report that I had to prepare for school. It definitely came as a surprise that I was accepted into CAMP’s Summer Internship Program, and as an intern for the Office of Senator Loren Legarda no less.
Terrified of walking in unprepared, I took a self-imposed crash course on politics and the senator. I spent hours poring over news articles and YouTube interviews, but I’ve since realized the truth in the old saying that there’s no better teacher than experience.
To my relief, I wasn’t given tasks beyond my initial knowledge of the government system. I started out replying to letters, enhancing legislation, and taking down notes in various meetings. It was mostly from TWG workshops and committee hearings that I started to understand the legislative process. Even if the legal jargon overwhelmed me sometimes, I always left with a better grasp on how each provision contributed to the policy as a whole. Soon, I moved on to tackle research projects and event briefers. By the time sessions resumed, I actually recognized some of the bills being sponsored since I’d attended the hearings about them. Then there are little triumphs like finally working the office’s monster of a copy machine (I’ve always had trouble with printers.), mastering the differences between paper sizes (A4 vs. Short vs. Legal vs. Long), and getting my laptop through an all-day seminar (minimum screen brightness on Power Saver mode).
It helps that everyone in the office is just genuinely accommodating. Envisioning unfriendly co-workers who wouldn’t want to associate with me, I remember dreading lunch break whenever I thought of this internship in the past. I couldn’t have been more wrong. From day one, I’ve been blessed with superiors who save a seat for me in the dining lounge, where food and advice are shared in equal parts. Far from being the stiff professionals I pictured, the legislative team has the incredible capacity to crack jokes one minute and be laser-focused on task in the next. Senator Loren herself is poised yet passionate; her dedication to her advocacies can be seen in the smallest details—the unique seedling giveaways for her Marine Biodiversity Video Launch, the native fabrics draped over office cubicles, and the extra information that she personally injects into her already impressive speeches.
Best of all, this internship has allowed me to connect news with the people behind them. I’ve witnessed resource speakers and legislators dissect a 200-page bill measure by measure. I’ve listened to representatives of different sectors outline their positions on policies like the Fisheries Code and the Road Safety Act. I’ve watched senators use the input they’ve gathered to support their bills in interpellations and floor debates. In the very Office of Senator Legarda, I answer to people who tirelessly pour so much of themselves into their work. With these influences, each day in the Senate leads me to a greater appreciation of those in public service.
I’ll admit that I’m not the most politically aware person around, so I’m eternally grateful that I’ve been given the opportunity to change that.
Annicka Koteh is a high school student at Immaculate Conception Academy.
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.