Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Can I Sit Under a Tree?

So, today I showed up at work and the first thing I saw was eight children and their parents, several men in military garb, and a room full of men speaking some African language. The first thing I heard was, "JoAnna, briefing in 5 minute!"

Apparently, today was a photo shoot day. Every now and then several groups of people come all at one time to get their pictures taken with the Senator on the steps of the Capitol Building. And who better to take care of them than the interns?

I was put in charge of the "men speaking some African language." They happened to be a Parliamentary Delegation from Kenya here to observe the John Roberts confirmation hearings. The delegation was basically Kenya's version of a Judiciary Committee. I was to take the Committee down the hall, down the stairs, out of the building, across the street, and through the construction zone by the capitol building and then arrange them in an aesthetically pleasing fashion. The senator was supposed to be able to step in, have the picture taken, and step out without any problems.

Here's what's troubling about this situation: A single US senator goes to an African country. What happens? There are secret service everywhere, the president of the country comes out to the airport to meet her, there is a big celebration (or at least a dinner honoring them).

Now answer me this. What happens when a WHOLE DELEGATION of Kenyan senators comes to the US? They are met at the airport by two guys (only one of which can speak their language) and brought to a senator's office where they are told to stand in the hall. At that point, an intern with two days of experience takes them out in the hot sun to wait a half hour for a senator to show up.

Can you imagine how frustrating and embarrassing it is for me, let alone for them, to have a national leader have to ask an intern if he can sit under a tree to get out of the sun? I can not believe we treat people from other countries this way! We should take an active part in other countries' parliamentary processes. We should be encouraging democracy, not denigrating other countries' officials to the level of interns and 2 minute publicity shots.

And that's all I have to say about that.