Anna Griem

Dispatch from the British House of Commons, Part One

Anna Luise Griem, a class of 2011 Political Science student, writes:

After locking the door to my Elephant and Castle flat, I stroll past the Imperial War Museum, through industrial Waterloo and, after a brisk fifteen minutes walk, arrive at Westminster Bridge. To my right is the London Eye, and ahead of me is Westminster Palace. While crossing the Thames, it is easy to forget my purpose, mingle with the tourists, and lose myself gazing at the sights - but fortunately I have Big Ben to remind me to hurry and get to work on time!

Portcullis House, where Members of Parliament have their London offices, is where I go to work. Christine Russell, the Labour MP for whom I am interning, and her Researcher Alex Leonhardt, kept me busy during my first week by showing me the ropes in an exciting way. I toured Westminster Palace, accompanied Christine to meetings and receptions, and even got the opportunity to sit in the Commons Chamber for Prime Minister’s Questions.

Since then my colleagues have taught me to handle constituent mail, field calls, organize Christine’s diary, and even give tours to visiting constituents. I’ve quickly embraced the notion that handling policy issues all day at work, discussing politics in the pub or gym afterwards, then watching the evening news, and finally talking about what was said on the BBC the next morning is exactly how I will be living this year! After only five weeks in Westminster I’m astonished by how much I have absorbed about British politics. I fully appreciate just how lucky I am to be here, especially as a Political Science student.

The next big event I am looking forward to is the tradition-rich ceremony where the Queen presides over the State Opening of Parliament.

Anna is spending the 2009/2010 Parliamentary year in London interning at the British House of Commons for the Honorable Christine Russell, Labour MP for the City of Chester. Throughout the academic year, Anna will keep in touch with the College of Arts and Sciences, sending updates regarding her experiences working in a foreign government that will be chronicled in the CAS e-NEWS.