Remarkably, this summer wasn’t sophomore Kyla Russell’s first rodeo on Capitol Hill.
For the past three months, Russell interned at the Turkish Heritage Organization (THO), her second internship in Washington D.C. after her internship on the Hill this past January.
From riding the metro to work, to eating lunch outside the White House, sipping coffee with co-workers and working an evening shift at a local French pastry shop, Russell’s days were full of the hustle and bustle of life in the nation’s capital.
Acting as the communications and media intern for the THO, a foreign policy think tank, Russell was in charge of curating the top NATO news for a weekly podcast titled “NATO Need to Know.”
The podcast shares why NATO is important and how it might impact listeners’ lives. These episodes are one minute or less, compelling those who might find foreign policy daunting to plug into 60 seconds of worthwhile information.
“I did expert interviews with leading thought processors on foreign policy, especially to do with U.S. (and) Middle East relations as well as U.S. (and) Eurasia relations,” Russell said. “I wrote press briefings and did lots of podcasts and interviews with people that are much cooler than I am.”
Russell came across this opportunity through her internship this past January on Capitol Hill. Here, she came into contact with Savannah Lane, executive director for the THO.
Up until this point, Russell’s experience with foreign policy was limited to the context of her hometown of Indianapolis. She was excited to learn more and get directly involved.
It was a reassuring experience for Russell, solidifying her passion for journalism and the press.
Additionally, her time in the Capitol served as a culture study for Russell. With her spare time spent serving coffee and pastries at Un Je Ne Sais Quoi, an authentic French café located right off Embassy Row, Russell was able to encounter all kinds of different people rushing through the city with unique lives of their own.
“Washington D.C. really is a picture of America as the melting pot, you know,” Russell said. “There were so many different people that would walk into the café, with stories that they wanted to share and I really, really enjoyed it.”
Not only did Russell meet and come across so many different people that represented America as a whole, but she also recognized the footprint of Taylor University in many of the places she went.
Taylor, Russell noticed, is everywhere.
“Taylor is well-known in the D.C. area,” Russell said. “You would think people wouldn’t know this small school in Upland, Indiana but I would say I was from Taylor and people would be surprised and elated,” Russell said. “My experience at Taylor so far really equipped me to be able to navigate a space that I wasn’t familiar with, with grace.”
And grace is exactly what Russell sought to carry herself with during her time in D.C. for a summer full of learning and growth that has excited her for her future at Taylor and her career back in the Capitol.
With some foreign policy experience under her belt, a greater comfortability with the metro and some familiarity with the French language from the café, Russell returned home inspired from her time.
“A big thing I learned was that yes, it’s a big city, it’s scary and the world is scary, especially right now,” Russell said. “But, you know, for the most part, if you can just show empathy, people care and want to help,” Russell shared. “Whether that’s career wise or for practical everyday things, people want to help. I love it.”