Hi everyone! Thanks for checking out my second installment for my internship on Parliament Hill in Canada. As was the case seven days ago, this has been another action packed week that has transcended all of my expectations. To set the scene, I am actually sitting on a train bound to Ottawa from Montreal — our internship program was lucky enough to have the opportunity to explore the great French city for the weekend. But, before I get into that, I’ll give you a taste of what work in the office has been like this past week.
To be perfectly honest, despite my lighthearted tone in the previous blog post, I was a little ambivalent about the ensuing weeks. While I enjoyed the work that I was given, I felt as if I was approaching it rather tentatively — not only did I not want to make a mistake, but I also did not want to face the potential embarrassment from doing so in front of the office staff. That said, this week was one in which I broke out of my proverbial shell. The other interns and staffers within the office have continued to welcome me with open arms, and have treated me with nothing but kindness. Beyond growing acclimated to the environment, I feel as if I am fostering potentially lifelong friendships.
This week was of particular significance for my office as the Canadian Autism Partnership — an initiative that my MP helped to spearhead — was chosen by our caucus for Opposition Day. To those that are unfamiliar with the system, this is essentially a day in which the opposition party is allowed to set the agenda. So, in this light, our office was rather busy this week in preparation for our MP’s speech, along with scheduling other MPs for the day. This consisted of, but was not limited to, calling other offices on the Hill, connecting with various autism organizations throughout Canada and the U.S., and sitting in the House of Commons lending support during our MP’s time on the floor.
The primary goal for this day was to convince the current government of Canada to rethink its budget proposal for this year. Unlike previous ones, this year’s budget did not include funding for the Canadian Autism Partnership (CAP) — a group of experts that would fundamentally provide organized leadership for autism services in every province. This would ultimately entail providing advise on the current best practices and treatment for autism in Canada.
What really hit home for me is that I felt as if I was working as a part of (and towards), something much bigger than myself. After hearing the testimony of my MP — a father of an autistic son — I was touched. What’s more, after personally calling hundreds of autism organizations throughout Canada, I knew that I was making genuine connections with real life people. At the core of this week was this question: how can we, as a team, ensure that those living with autism are able to live in a socially aware and helpful world once we are gone? While seven days to achieve this goal is mightily ambitious, I feel as if we made great leaps towards it, together. I cannot wait to see how the rest of the debate and vote pan out of the next week or so.
Ok, ok, I know this is somewhat lengthy, so I’ll leave most of my weekend description to some pictures that I have taken. But, in short, this weekend in Montreal was a blast. Our schedules were entirely cleared, so we were able to roam the city, venturing to sites that interested us. With a group of friends I hiked up Mount (Mont) Royal — a large hill that, although offering a great view of the city, showed just how out of shape I really am — sat in the beautiful Notre-Dame Basilica, and walked throughout Old Montreal. I found the city to be amazing, including all of its European architectural undertones and the occasional language barrier! It was a great experience seeing yet another component of what makes Canada so unique. I am really looking forward to seeing what is in store for the next week!