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Home > Mantel’s Foreign Service Internship Provides Lithuanian Immersion

Mantel’s Foreign Service Internship Provides Lithuanian Immersion

April 18th, 2013

By Chelsea Rankin


CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 441-8722
OfficeOfCommunications@phc.edu

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Meredith and a panoramic shot of Vilnius from the top of Gediminas Tower.

When senior Meredith Mantel applied for a State Department internship within the Foreign Service Institute and the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, she had no idea what she would be doing or where she would be going. Internship applicants choose one preferred country from the bureau’s region, and Mantel applied for Slovenia. But then she also interviewed with Croatia and Lithuania, and, in the end, Lithuania offered her the internship that she accepted.

Unlike most students, Mantel’s first encounter with PHC happened early on, as her older brother, Evan (Journalism ’11), first attended the school. When she visited him, she would sit in on classes, meet students, and even attended PHC’s spring formal dance. After deciding she wanted to major in international relations, PHC’s International Politics and Policy major seemed like an excellent choice.

Mantel believes her time at PHC made her a well-round person and has enabled her to balance a wide variety of responsibilities. It also provided her with the tools and knowledge needed to pursue a career in international relations.
“Critical thinking is such an important skill in international relations and PHC definitely increased my critical thinking skills,” she said.

While at PHC, she was heavily involved in both the student senate and in Eden Troupe, the school’s drama club. She served as the senate treasurer, starred in A Christmas Carol, and directed Mousetrap in spring of 2011.

Meredith and the flag that flew from Gediminas Tower on March 11, 1990.

 

In her final semester on campus she spent ten weeks in Lithuania as part of her State Department internship. And while much of her work with the Foreign Service Institute was classified, she wrote communications briefings about the Lithuanian economy, energy, and foreign policy. She also attended meetings and economic conferences, edited the political and economic officer’s reports, and reported on important meetings in the Lithuanian government. As part of her wide-ranging responsibilities, she also helped with outreach events on domestic violence, as well as cultural outreach by representing the embassy at education fairs, speaking at an anti-bullying event, and judging an English songs competition.

The three-bedroom apartment the embassy provided Mantel and three other interns in Lithuania was just a one-minute walk from the embassy and only ten minutes from the grocery store. She and another intern took advantage of the central location to take in the local sights, getting to know Vilnius, and even taking a cheap air carrier for a long weekend in Oslo, Norway.

Mantel spent time in Panevëþys doing outreach for Holocaust Remembrance Day, as well as Ignalina while touring a nuclear power plant that was in the process of being decommissioned; she traveled to Tytuvenai to judge the English song competition and also visited Panerai, where the Nazis killed thousands of Lithuanian Jews and buried them there in mass graves.

Mantel hopes to eventually work as a Foreign Service officer, but, for now, with graduation mere weeks away, she is looking at job opportunities in DC. And with the rich memories of her incredible Lithuanian internship behind her, she can only wonder at what other inspiring adventures await her beyond PHC.