I’m Laura Lundahl and I’m brand new to the Washington DC area. Just last week I drove my very full Ford Focus from Minnesota to intern with EPIC. I wanted to find an internship that worked with International Development, and I cannot wait to begin!
Ever since I was young I’ve been struck with wanderlust. From U.S. road trips to exploring the wonders of Europe and Central America, I enjoy learning everything that I can about the history and cultures of any given area, and gaining insights about current events. A recent highlight was the semester I spent in Germany studying the European Union, where I received hands-on international relations experience. Please feel free to read more about me here!
Now, I have a confession. Although I have a strong background in European and American history and affairs, this will be my first foray into Iraq and the Middle East. I was only 13 when the Bush administration invaded Iraq, and my schooling spent very little time on Middle Eastern affairs, even after the invasion. As a result, I know very little about the region. I began working at EPIC four days ago and I have already learned far more about Iraq in these past 96 hours than in the rest of my life combined.
While I am currently in a crash course on Iraqi history and policy, I do have a solid background in youth-led activism. The organization that I have the most experience working with is the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG). I joined in fall 2008 to work on their Get Out the Vote campaign. In just 45 days we registered nearly 5,000 voters at the university (out of a student population of about 12,000), which resulted in one of the highest youth vote turnouts in the country. That was just the first of many successful measures that I witnessed, and assisted with, through MPIRG and other organizations between 2008-2011. Consequently, I have seen first hand how young people can change the world for the better when they are empowered and feel compelled to do so.
As a young American, I know how lucky my generation and I are to have the institutions and educational systems necessary to support our needs. However, it is still difficult for young voices to be heard at the government level. This is partly due to low-voter turnout among young people, and partly because it tends to be difficult for younger generations to be taken seriously by their older counterparts. When it still is such an uphill battle for young people in America, just imagine the mountain that Iraqi youth face.
I subscribe to the belief that the entire world is interlocked, that the troubles of Iraq affect us, and our troubles, them. EPIC’s mission and vision subscribe to the same belief – to ensure that the youth of Iraq have the support systems they need to feel empowered, that they will be capable of leading their country down the road to peace and stability, is a vital policy for Americans to adapt. This is a mission of giving a hand-up, not a handout, and that is the best long-term approach for stability in any country.
I am honored to bring my education and experiences to the EPIC team, and am very excited to broaden my understanding and knowledge of the Middle East through such a great organization. I hope that you take, and enjoy, this journey with me!
Araki fi ma ba’d!