By Anh Nguyen
Home Country: Vietnam
If you aren’t a U.S. citizen, you might be wondering: “What exactly is the RNC?” As a Temple freshman from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, I was asking the same question in my first-ever political science class. I could never imagine that ten months later, I would be here in Cleveland, Ohio, attending the 2016 Republican National Convention – the presidential nominating convention of the Republican Party of the United States – and working for the U.S. State Department.
As an international student in America, politics was not exactly right up my alley. My major is Journalism and I am interested in cultures and history. My political knowledge was limited to knowing only the name of the US President and the two party system, the Republican party and the Democratic party. I wrote for the Temple Dental School’s newsletter so I can explain the difference between an orthodontist and a pedodontist, but I cannot tell you for sure what it means to be a Republican or a Democrat!
Surprisingly, my major requires political science courses. I took one in my sophomore year out of curiosity and that was my life-changing decision. I learned so much in my “American Political System” class that it actually sparked my interest in politics and my curiosity in the presidential race. My parents in Vietnam have never voted in their life, not because they didn’t want to, but because they’ve never fully had the chance to make it happen.
Reading the news every day and watching my friends debate in class led me to believe politics matters to society and everyone. I started asking more questions, researching more about the political structure of the country I am living in. The more information I got, the more appreciative I was for freedom of the press and free speech in America.
Every four years, American people vote for their next president. The Republican party and the Democratic party participate in the process by each nominating its party’s presidential candidate. 2016 election year is deemed unconventional because of the presumptive nominees: Hillary Clinton, former First Lady and Secretary of State on the Democrat’s side and Donald Trump, real estate mogul and reality star, on the Republican’s side.
With all the talks, discussions and arguments going on among me and my friends in the debate club, I could not stay out of the race for presidency. I applied for The Washington Center’s RNC Seminar 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio just to test my knowledge and take a chance with the generous scholarship that Temple’s Political Science Department offered. In January 2016, I found out that I had been chosen among five Temple students to participate in this program.
Here we are, at Cleveland after nearly ten months watching the primary election from afar. It’s hot and humid, just like Vietnam but everything else is different. The city is industrial, modern and majestic at the same time. The Washington Center offers one week of academic seminar hosted at Baldwin Wallace University and one week of internship with different organizations, for example, the Host Committee, Committee on Arrangements, Pennsylvania Delegation and CNN. My fieldwork placement is with the US State Department’s Foreign Press Center. My responsibility is helping foreign journalists in the media center. I am excited to be a part of this and looking forward to the exposure to a real journalist’s work.