A United States Congressional Staff delegation visited Christchurch today to meet with student representatives of the University of Canterbury's School of Law and the Student Volunteer Army.
During the visit it was announced that applications will open the week of 18 June for the first intake of the New Zealand Congressional Internship programme on Capitol Hill. Application details will be posted on the University of Canterbury School of Law website (http://www.laws.canterbury.ac.nz/) during the week of 18 June with the application process closing on 1 July 2012.
"There has been incredible interest shown by students to the internship since it was announced at the New Zealand Embassy in Washington DC on the first anniversary of the devastating earthquake of 22 February," said Dr Chris Gallavin, Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Canterbury.
"This is simply an unbelievable opportunity for two young New Zealanders to experience the reality of US political life."
The programme gives two New Zealand students a chance to work in congressional offices for 6-8 weeks each year. The first interns to the programme will be selected exclusively from the University of Canterbury's School of Law.
The internship programme resulted from an initiative put forward by the New Zealand ambassador to the United States, the Rt Hon Mike Moore. The programme has received strong support from the Friends of New Zealand Congressional Caucus with both co-chairs of the group, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA), expressing support for the programme. Both Rep Brady and Larsen were in Christchurch on the morning of the 22 February 2011 earthquake. Significantly, both the United States-New Zealand Council and the University of Canterbury have pledged funding for the programme covering flights, accommodation and incidentals for the students.
"The United States and New Zealand can learn a great deal from each other," said William Maroni, President of the United States-New Zealand Council.
"By offering outstanding students the opportunity to experience firsthand the American legislative process, we can promote greater understanding in both nations."
"The aim of the internship is to provide students with a behind the scenes look at the United States legislative process," said Dr Gallavin.
"The students at Canterbury's School of Law are a strong bunch both academically speaking and as individuals. I am excited about the field of applicants for the position.
"We are after well-rounded individuals and not just those who may have an interest in pursuing a career in international relations. Building on the relationship forged between New Zealand and the United States post-earthquake we hope to receive applications from law students who will use this experience to broaden their horizons and to put back into New Zealand and the NZ-US relationship in all sorts of different ways."
Dr Gallavin agreed with the comments of Ambassador Moore when he said that "this is an exciting programme for both countries".
"Many of these young people will go on to work in both the private and public sector, perhaps even serving in the New Zealand Parliament. This is the kind of learning experience that not only changes lives, but strengthens friendship between nations. I'm very pleased the first students will be from Canterbury University," said Mr Moore.
The internships will run for eight weeks over Christmas. Applications will be sought from advanced law students at UC before being short-listed by the School of Law. The final selection will be made by the Members of Congress hosting the first interns.
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