Week 2

Ciao amici,

In my second week on the internship, I had some equally interesting experiences. Monday June 11th was the beginning of the national Portugese-American heritage month, and in Massachusetts, June 11th in the statewide celebration day of Portugese-Americans and their heritage. If this surprises you, don’t sweat it- I had no idea either! When I got to the statehouse that morning, I could tell something was different. There was a lot of people all over the state house steps, a ton of people in uniform and many of the people high up in the state government such as the Lt. Governor were there as well. To my surprise, not only were there a lot of people out and about on the statehouse lawn, the president of Portugal and his delegation were being given a red carpet ceremonial welcome to Massachusetts that morning.

After I put my stuff down that morning, I went to the house chamber to see the president of Portugal, Mr. Manuel de Souza, give a speech to kick of the Portugese-American heritage month. He was a pretty powerful speaker- his English was great and he spoke in great length about the history of the diplomatic and cultural relationship between Portugal and the United States, quickly getting rid of his prepared speech after a minute or two to make sure that what he was saying was “from the heart.” It was good to hear that a country abroad still held a high esteem for the United States, its culture, government, and way of life, even in this age where a narrative of disdain and resentment supposedly dominates perspectives on the United States in European countries.  A progressive, he made mild references to the danger of populism, as he said it distorts the true perspectives of the populous. I’m not sure whether this was a direct stab at President Trump, but the very liberal Massachusetts legislators gave a round of applause for it anyway. He talked much about early Massachusetts history as well, and thanked Massachusetts for being the seed and birthplace of modern democracy, that in the last three hundred years, has spread throughout the world and accompanied widespread political freedoms, tolerance, respect for human rights and  cultural exchange.

At first I wondered, what is the Portugese president doing sitting in the Massachusetts house of Representatives- why isn’t he speaking in front of the US congress or meeting with the president while he is here? Turns out that those were not the objectives of his visit to the US. Apparently, of the 1.5 million Portugese-Americans living in the US, 700,000 of them live in Massachusetts. Also, Portugal was the first country to recognize American Independence from Great Britain-pretty cool. I will attach a photo from his speech that I took

.The man with the blue tie is President De Souza

Orientation and first day

Hey all!

In this post I am going to write a little bit about my first week at my internship at the Massachusetts State House. On Tuesday, half of all of the interns for the Governor of Massachusetts, which encompasses all agencies, councils and bodies under the direction of the executive branch of the state, had their general internship orientation. There are hundreds of of such agencies in the state, and many of them have one or a few interns. I, as well as two others, are interning for the governor’s executive council, which is a body that, in addition to other things, advises the governor on issues as well as votes on appointments to the judicial system of the state, pardons and other executive appointments to bureaucratic agencies. Orientation was pretty much a lot of paperwork- very general, as it was for all interns. It was more so an introduction to the statehouse. After doing introductions ( we all had to give a fun fact- mine was that I have a twin) and paperwork, we were given a tour of the statehouse. I had not been there since I was a little kid, and I did not remember how beautiful it was. It’s like I get to work inside of a US history museum. The walls are filled with portraits of essential Americans, such as governor Sam Adams, Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. Many ceilings have full paintings and murals depicting Massachusetts history- its quite fantastic. I will take pictures and post some of them on this blog so that you all get a good view of the inside of the state house for those non-New Englanders who probably have never been inside of it. Although the day was a short introduction, I got to ride the train in from my house, wear a suit to a job, something I’ve never had to do before, and get a feel for the place I will be working this summer, as well as meet a bunch of fellow interns.

On Wednesday, I had my first day as an intern for the governor’s executive council. My day began at 6:15, another early morning rushing about, showering getting dressed, eating breakfast (strawberry chocolate scone-yum!), packing a lunch and rushing to the train station to catch the 7:15 commuter rail out of Boston. I got to Boston a bit early, and walked over to the state house in time to start at 9:30am. I had to report to the office of the governor’s council, a small area of the state house where the small council staff as well as the 8 councilors have their offices. I was given a desk in the corner, and I have a window on the first floor front of the red brick original part of the state house, farthest to the left. You can see it on the picture I attached. My day started with a history lesson about the council from one of the council staff members, an older gentleman named George who has worked in the Massachusetts state house his whole life, and has a memory that could serve as a textbook for Massachusetts state politics. The council was founded in 1780 in the Massachusetts constitution, with the main purpose of providing advice and consent to the governor on appointments and other important decisions. The council is made up of 8 councilors who are elected by vote from 8 respective districts in Massachusetts, and today, the council holds hearings for appointments to the judicial system, pardons, and other bureaucratic appointments. The council then votes on these appointments. Today, the governor does not chair the council, but the Lt. Governor, Karyn Polito chairs it. The council met that afternoon, and  was held in the governor’s chambers, in the room right next door to his official office. At the start of the council meeting, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito introduced me and another intern to the council, which was quite the honor. Many members of the council were impressed to hear that I was studying at Dickinson College, which they all remember is in Carlisle, the town famous for producing Jim Thorpe a century ago.  While in his office, I even saw Charlie Baker (governor of Mass) walking by- pretty cool! I got to watch as the council held a hearing for a judge being appointed to the senior position in the judicial office on industrial accidents and worker’s compensation board. (He was reappointed!) and then spent the rest of the day stuffing letters and doing data entry on behalf of the councilors. Quite a first day, I think its pretty cool that through this internship I will get to see state politics happen right in front of me, and get to meet a lot of big players in state politics in the process.