International student sees Washington up close during internship

Release Date: 11/28/2011

When Chuong Do, a junior political science major from Vietnam, went to Washington D.C. over the summer, he didn't know what he was in for. "It was awesome," says Do. "I have visited only a few major American cities - Las Vegas and New York. Washington is very different, to say the least. And there was nothing comparable in my background. Washington is a vibrant place. The students I met were very serious people who have clear ambitions and are moving toward accomplishing them."

Chuong Do in Washington, D.C.

Chuong Do, a junior political science major from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, spent part of the summer at Georgetown University, in Washington, D.C.

Do attended Georgetown University to take courses and intern through the Engalitcheff Institute on Comparative Political and Economic Systems, one of Washington's top academic and internship programs. He received funding for his studies through the Clayton G. Russell Memorial Endowment for Political Science and the Academic Enrichment Fund. The Clayton Fund was established in 2000 by the Mary I. Rogers to broaden the scope of the political science program. The Academic Enrichment Fund was established in 2003 by the university's Board of Trustees to offer competitive grants to students in support of their research or creative projects, professional preparation through internships, and study abroad.

Do took two courses during his time at Georgetown, "Comparative Economic Systems" and "The Transformation of American Politics." He said the course on politics was the more challenging of the two. "I'm less acquainted with the history of American politics than I might be," he said.

In addition to his class work, Do interned with the Jump$tart Coalition. Jump$tart is a national coalition of organizations dedicated to improving the financial literacy of pre-kindergarten through college-age youth by providing advocacy, research, standards and educational resources. Jump$tart strives to prepare youth for life-long successful financial decision-making.

"They work with people's personal finances," he said. "They help even in basic ways, like how to balance your budget, how to use money wisely. They actually target all sorts of people - professionals, teachers, and students. But what I worked on had more of a focus on teachers, providing them with syllabi and other study materials for teaching that subject matter. I put together a lot of packets to send out."

Do said the most personally helpful aspect of his summer was learning to manage his way around the city. "I have never lived alone to that extent," he said. "I find my way around here okay, but I also have my sister here as a support system."

His brother Huy graduated from Ozarks in 2009, and his sister Phuong is currently a senior majoring in Management/Administration.

Do also enjoyed his summer when he wasn't interning or going to class. "As I mentioned, Washington is a vibrant place," he said. "I wouldn't want to drive there, but the subways are cool. I hung out with a lot of people I met there. Here I live off campus and don't get the same social interaction as on-campus students. I went to museums a lot while I was in Washington. I had not thought I was so interested in art or history, but the museums were fascinating to me."

He said his plans for his future have continued to change at Ozarks and during his summer in Washington. "Originally I majored in the pre-law track of political science because I had thought about going to law school," he said, "but it turns out that a law degree from the United States isn't recognized in my own country. So now I'm in the political economy track, working through those courses. I honestly don't know what I'm going to do when I'm done! I think I had a clearer goal when I got here than I do now after these years. Things have really opened up, you could say. So many possibilities. My short term goal, though, is to apply for graduate school, to get some advanced study."

Did his summer change his view of himself any? "Yes," he says. "You have heard of someone who is a big fish in a small pond? Having met the people I met this summer and gone through those experiences, now I want to be a big fish in a big pond!"