Read on for highlights, reflections and anecdotes from my summer internship in Monrovia with Liberia's Ministry of Finance. Comments are very enthusiastically encouraged!
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Meeting Madam President
On Sunday our group had the distinct honor of meeting the wondrous President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Giddy with excitement, the females in our group prepared for the big event by recruiting my most fashionable colleague to bring us to a tailor to have African dresses made. (Word to the wise: Liberian dresses are gorgeous). Donning our new getups and with great anticipation, we headed to meet the President.
The President arranged a reception in her backyard for our group of interns and the Ministers with whom each of us work. After greeting us and listening to a description of our internship projects, the President -- who had just returned from a football match against Equatorial Guinea (with a final score of 0-0) -- strongly encouraged us to take on challenging work and to contribute substantive policy analysis to her Government. Her razor sharp analysis of our internships -- immediately picking out those who were underutilized and offering great suggestions on additional work -- made a strong impression on all of us. Also, I was very touched to see the President working so closely with her sister, who presided over the reception. I too am very close with my own sisters and will even be joined in Liberia this summer by my beloved younger sister and writer extraordinaire Colleen, who has been commissioned to write some magazine pieces about Liberia.
During our conversation with the President, Emily asked how the President sustains herself through all of the many challenges and frustrations in her job. "The possibility of transformation" was her answer, a very fitting response to a group of students who believe firmly in her potential to make that possibility a reality.
**For more on President Sirleaf and her heroic efforts in Liberia, see the first post in this blog.**
Before graduating from the MPA/ID program at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government in 2008, I spent a summer internship in Monrovia as a special assistnat to Liberia's Minister of Finance, Antoinette Sayeh. A big thanks to the NGK fellowship and the Women and Public Policy Program for the generous financial support and sponsorship.