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Kamilah Charters-Gabanek

SFU Co-op Student
Arts + Social Sciences › Political Science

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Kamilah and a woman standing
Every day is different at the Consulate; there are always new and exciting projects to take on.

This article was originally published in the Arts Co-op Newsletter in Summer 2013.

This spring I spent a co-op term working as a Public Affairs Intern for the United States Consulate General Vancouver. Although a quieter post than perhaps Ottawa or Baghdad, Vancouver offered up many exciting opportunities and experiences for me as a fourth-year political science student.

Practicing public diplomacy in Vancouver for the Consulate was a great introduction to international affairs and crossborder cultural relations. Thanks to my past co-ops, my small but effective network came in handy when programming events for the Consulate throughout Metro Vancouver.

As most media will go first through Ottawa before coming to Vancouver, much of our work here is based on public diplomacy. For me, this included hosting Digital Video Conferences with American experts who presented on topics to key audiences, facilitating a meet-and-greet with the Consul General, the Mayor of Abbotsford, the Abbotsford Youth Commission, and the Harlem Globetrotters, and filming a short web-series on past women alumni of the State Department’s International Visitor’s Leadership Programs for Women’s History Month.

Working in public affairs is exciting - especially for the US Department of State. Every day is different at the Consulate; there are always new and exciting projects to take on. My co-interns and I were given lots of responsibility; we were able to represent the Consulate at various events and meetings, and drafting notes for speeches and cables. We were also proud to be members of the US Consulate’s team at the 2013 Vancouver Sun Run, which was a great experience.

I was lucky enough to be present for Ambassador David Jacobson, the United States Ambassador to Canada’s visit to Vancouver in early April. This was quite the opportunity for us as interns, and an experience I know I’ll appreciate throughout my career.

I’ve recently attained citizenship to the Czech Republic, and as I prepare to spend my summer in Prague on an SFU Field School, the idea of working internationally has become quite attractive. It was always a treat to hear my supervisor talk about her previous postings in Jamaica and Poland. Thanks to the US Consulate, this idea also appears to be more of a realistic option than a daydream. Perhaps the Canadian Embassy in Prague needs a Public Affairs Intern…

It will be a bitter-sweet goodbye at the end of April, but I hope the following interns have an equally rewarding experience with the Consulate, working for the US Department of State in the heart of downtown Vancouver.

About the Author

Kamilah Charters-Gabanek

SFU Co-op Student
Arts + Social Sciences › Political Science

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