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Students participate in government internship program in Canada

Three Morehead State University students recently participated in an internship designed to not only give them valuable job skills but also to teach them about different forms of government used in countries outside the U.S.

Nick Anderson, a junior political science and legal studies major from Morehead, Abby Staab, a junior political science and legal studies major from Ft. Thomas, and Zachary Rice, a senior political science major from Jackson, recently completed a five-week internship program with the Canadian Parliament. While there, students observed and assisted with the day-to-day activities of a Parliamentary representative.

Anderson interned for Parliament Member Shaun Chen of the Scarborough North region. Anderson said he wrote correspondence to Chen's constituents, which come from many diverse backgrounds including the Middle East, China and South Asia.

"Not only did I get a better understanding of the Canadian government, I learned a lot about Eastern culture," Anderson said, adding the fact that his writing represented a member of Parliament made him hone his craft as a writer to produce the best work possible.

While Anderson said his favorite thing about the trip was meeting new people and the experience he gained from the internship, he said one of the highlights for him was meeting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife, Sophie, during a garden party held for members of Canada's Liberal Party.

Anderson noted that, aside from differences in how the political system is structured, there was another difference he noticed between the Canadian and U.S. governments.

"In the Parliamentary system, they seem to listen to one another. It's nice to see a political system that hears each other's words instead of just their own partisan beliefs. I think too often on our political system; people demonize those who don't agree with them. It was nice to see open communication between opposing parties."

Staab first heard about the internship opportunity from her honors mentor and said it appealed to her because it offered the chance to pursue her interests.

"The prospect of spending five weeks abroad working for a foreign government immediately caught my attention," Staab. "I have always had an interest in how government works outside of the United States. After learning more about the opportunity, I knew it would be a great experience for me."

She interned for Parliament Member Dr. Hedy Fry, a member of Canada's Liberal Party. Her duties included drafting letters and emails to the constituents of Vancouver Centre, covering issues from advancing the equality of women to advocating for greater environmental protections and preparing summaries for Fry that included a wide variety of topics. Outside the office, Staab said she immersed herself in learning more about Canadian politics, attending committee meetings to understand important Canadian issues to deepen her understanding of the legislative process. She also attended receptions hosted by various groups to observe the diversity within Parliament and to build connections with leaders on the hill. Staab also attended several Question Periods, allowing her to understand the debate process in Parliament better.

"It was an extremely eye-opening opportunity to learn about constituent concerns from a non-American perspective. Many Canadian citizens in the Vancouver area take environmental concerns very seriously. Speaking with Canadians who are passionate about finding solutions to the world's most pressing problems was an invaluable experience for me that will help me go through law school with a more global perspective," she said, adding her favorite aspect of the trip was having the chance to explore several major Canadian cities.

"My favorite part of the trip was getting to explore other prominent cities in Canada. I took a weekend trip to Quebec City and another trip to Montreal. Sight-seeing in the historic districts of these cities was beautiful, and I loved the rich culture and vibrant life these cities had to offer."

PM Justin Trudeau and Zachary RiceRice said he learned about the internship program from friends who had previously participated and said he was intrigued by their stories about the experience.

"I naturally wanted to experience such a great time as well, but I got my hopes down whenever I heard how exclusive the program was. During the Spring 2018 semester, I took Dr. William Green's Comparative Constitutional Law class and continued to interact with plenty of previous interns," Rice said. "At the end of the semester, Dr. Green offered me the chance to be a part of the last cohort he would send to Canada. I remember being ecstatic and at a loss for words, and I accepted. I still feel honored to have been chosen to participate."

During his time in Canada, Rice worked for Parliament Member Sonia Sidhu, who represents Brampton South in the greater Toronto area. He wrote speeches and opinion articles, designed flyers, briefed Sidhu on committee meetings and helped her prepare for a debate on the Floor of Commons. He said his favorite part of the experience was meeting so many new people, and he hopes more students in the region have the opportunity to travel abroad and learn more about the world.

"Especially for our region of Eastern Kentucky, I feel like our students aren't given the same opportunities that are afforded to other institutions across our nation. This program was critical in helping develop who I am as a person, and I truly feel that more students should have access to things like this," he said. "I come from a modest background, so when my dad saw that I had met the Prime Minister of Canada, he got teary-eyed and told me, 'you're the first Rice who has ever met the leader of a country," and that stunned me. I feel like a lot of us take our opportunities for granted, and that's a mistake."

For more information on the Canadian Studies program at MSU, visit

To learn more about MSU's Department of History, Philosophy, Politics, Global Studies and Legal Studies, visit   

Top photo: Nick Anderson worked as an intern for Parliament Member Shaun Chen of the Scarborough North region.

Middle photo: Nick Anderson and Abby Staab were interns for members of the Canadian Parliament earlier this summer.

Bottom photo: Zachary Rice, right, met Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau while participating in an internship in the Canadian Parliament.