Mika Weissbuch '11

EarthRights International and Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey's Office - Washington, DC
Major: Critical and Social Thought

I spent the past summer as a campaigns intern for EarthRights International (ERI), a nonprofit that “that combines the power of law and the power of people in defense of earth rights.”  I was in DC during a landmark victory for human rights and environmental justice.  Included in the Financial Reform bill was a transparency provision that will require corporations registered with the SEC in the oil, gas, and mining industries to disclose the payments they make to governments for the extraction of resources.  This significant provision will enable people in resource-rich to hold their governments accountable for the revenues they receive, which are vital in places like Burma where the military junta uses gas revenues to buy weapons and fund clandestine nuclear ambitions, as well as funnels money into offshore banks.  I felt privileged to be interning for an organization like ERI and to be in the midst of a movement during a celebratory moment for transparency and human rights.

I also interned with my representative, Lynn Woolsey, a self-proclaimed liberal from California’s sixth district.  My tasks ranged from sorting mail to giving tours to constituents to attending briefings and writing memos.  While I was there, the BP oil spill brought environmental issues to the forefront of the political agenda, and the House passed a bill Congresswoman Woolsey introduced: the Federal Oil Pollution Research Program Act.  My favorite moments in Rayburn House Building were witnessing the markup of legislation on child nutrition and attending a briefing on the failures of US policy in Afghanistan that Rep. Woolsey hosted.  On an “applied theory” level, I was fascinated to learn more about how Congress works as a system, with its efficiencies and inefficiencies, traditions and anomalies.