Samford University junior Kate Walker has a unique opportunity to share her perspective on American politics and culture with foreign audiences.
For this academic year, the international relations and French double major will work with the U.S. State Department’s Office of Press and Public Diplomacy in the European and Eurasian Affairs Bureau to communicate with young people in six countries.
It is part of her assignment as a participant the state department’s Virtual Student Foreign Service eInternship program.
Walker, who reports to the public diplomacy desk officer for France, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Spain and the Holy See, will record three-minute videos in French for French-speaking high school students in those countries. She communicates with her internship director via email and Skype.
“Because everything that the U.S. government posts on the internet and on Facebook must go through heavy clearance to ensure that it represents the current U.S. Policy, most of the information available to Francophone youth about U.S. history, government and culture only presents the ‘official’ viewpoints,” explains Walker, adding that it can be difficult to spark meaningful discussion among foreign audiences when the only information is from the official U.S. perspective.
“As an independent student, I can give my own perspective on politics and culture, and hopefully facilitate more international discussion,” said Walker, who is from Fayetteville, Ga.
Her first project is to prepare a series of videos about university life, and she has chosen the tradition of football game tailgating for the first topic. Subsequent videos will explore additional “Americana-type” concepts, including one to help explain the Electoral College voting system.
Walker will complete the tailgate video with film from the Samford homecoming game and festivities on Oct. 29.
“Tailgating is very important on game days, especially in the southeastern U.S. The French don’t really have an equivalent, so I wanted the Francophones to be able to see how prevalent it is, how important it is for the football culture, and to see it in action,” said Walker, who will use the video to explain tailgating history, typical food served, atmosphere and attire.
She does her own photography for the project, and assembles it on a laptop computer using imovie video editing software.
Walker says she has freedom to focus on whatever topics she chooses. When her initial video is complete, she will send it to her internship director David Feldmann to review for offensive or inappropriate content before he relays it to various embassies, French websites, high schools and other outlets.
She learned about the eInternship through Samford’s Career Development Center. The extensive application process included submitting a resume, a statement of interest, letters of recommendation and essays.
She looks forward to her eInternship experience. “It incorporates so many of my interest—French, history and government, into one internship,” said Walker, who says she might one day like to work for the state department.