26904 OCdt Patrick Diotte: Front row seat in Washington, DC for Presidential election

Historic Times in Washington DC – 26904 (IV) OCdt Patrick Diotte, 5 SQN

Back in first year, I would have never anticipated spending a semester abroad as I was already busy enough juggling aspects of life at the College and adjusting to life in the military.

Here I am now, 3 years later, living and studying in Washington DC and working at the Embassy of Canada. I first thought about applying for an internship when a College wide email was sent out calling for applications.

Between my profound interest in politics and the upcoming Presidential election in the US, Washington DC topped my list of places to go.

The application process was lengthy and involved a lot of moving parts, but it was definitely worth it in the end.

Read more…

I moved to Washington DC at the beginning of September and there has not been a dull moment since. Between academics, my work at the embassy, maintaining my physical fitness and having a social life, I have not had much time to reflect on how things would have been different had I not been abroad for the Fall term.

I am living in an intern residence with two Congressional interns – one from California and one from Georgia. Our different backgrounds make for very interesting discussions, but luckily I get along with them exceptionally well.

My work at the embassy has been one of the most educational, insightful and valuable experiences of my life. Besides helping out with small tasks and events, I have primarily been attending various defence and foreign policy related think tank events around Washington DC and writing reports on the discussions.

Some of the think tanks that I have had the opportunity to go to include the Brookings Institution, the United States Institute for Peace, the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, the John Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies and the Heritage Foundation, amongst many others.

Moreover, these prestigious institutions often host distinguished speakers and panellists. For instance, I have attended events with the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff General Joseph Dunford, the Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Ivanovich Kislyak, the three Service Secretaries, CNN correspondent and executive at New America Peter Bergen and General David Petraeus, amongst others.

The majority of the events that I have attending deal with US foreign policy issues which are, for the most part, directly related to and of interest to Canada. Russia’s actions in Syria and Putin’s kleptocracy, the ongoing Mosul offensive, the path forward in Afghanistan, the current situation with North Korea, non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, countering violent extremism and the ongoing Civil War in Syria are some of the key topics being discussed at think tanks in Washington DC.

Although most of my time is spent working with the Political Section of Global Affairs Canada, I have been actively participating in various events and activities with CDLS (W). Back in October, the Embassy hosted a Partners in Defence event where I had the chance to meet the CDS, General Jonathan Vance, the Commander of the Army, Lt Gen Paul Wynnyk, and even Senator John McCain. Besides my daily tasks at the embassy, I am also enrolled in two online courses and working on my 4th year thesis project.

Thus far, this has been an incredible experience and I would recommend it to all incoming 4th year cadets who have a desire to experience and work in the epicenter of international affairs and world politics.

As many of you are probably wondering, being in Washington DC during the election season has been quite interesting and somewhat overwhelming. The amount of passion and knowledge for and of politics in this city is incredible.

As a final word, I would like to give thanks to Dr. Christian Leuprecht, Dr. Kevin Brushett, WO Chuck Ansell, the RMC Foundation and all others without whom I would not have been able to make this experience a reality.