Adventures at the RNC
by Anh Nguyen '18
If you aren’t a U.S. citizen, you might be wondering: “What exactly is the RNC?” As a Temple freshman from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, I was asking the same question in my first ever political science class. I could never imagine that 10 months later, I would be in Cleveland, Ohio, attending the presidential nominating convention of the Republican Party of the United States and working for the U.S. State Department.
As an international student in America, politics was not exactly right up my alley. I am a journalism major, and I’m interested in cultures and history, but my political knowledge was limited before arriving at Temple. I wrote for the School of Dentistry's newsletter, so I can explain the difference between an orthodontist and a pedodontist, but I could not have told you for sure what it means to be a Republican or a Democrat!
But because my major requires political science courses, I took one in my sophomore year out of curiosity. It proved to be a life-changing decision. I learned so much in my “American Political System” class that it actually sparked my interest in politics and my curiosity in the presidential race. My parents in Vietnam have never voted in their lives — not because they didn’t want to, but because they’ve never fully had the chance to make it happen.
Reading the news every day and watching my friends debate in class led me to believe that politics matters — to society and to everyone. I started asking more questions and researching more about the political structure of the country I am living in. The more information I got, the more appreciative I was for freedom of the press and free speech in America.
With all the talks, discussions and arguments going on among me and my friends in the debate club, I could not stay out of the race for presidency. I applied for The Washington Center’s RNC Seminar in Cleveland, Ohio, to test my knowledge and take a chance with the generous scholarship that Temple’s political science department offered. In January 2016, I found out that I had been chosen among five Temple students to participate in this program.
After nearly ten months of watching the primary from afar, I arrived in Cleveland. It was hot and humid, just like Vietnam, but everything else was different. The city is industrial, modern and majestic at the same time. The Washington Center offers one week of academic seminars hosted at Baldwin Wallace University and one week of internships with different organizations, like the Host Committee, Committee on Arrangements, Pennsylvania Delegation and CNN. My fieldwork placement was with the U.S. State Department’s Foreign Press Center, helping foreign journalists in the media center.
The job allowed me to work closely with foreign journalists and high-profile guest speakers. I participated in daily briefings by the RNC and Trump campaign staffs, as these experienced campaigners discussed their complicated strategy and operations. It was truly eye opening to see how a presidential campaign handles the press. Besides checking in guests and managing the pressroom, I also took photos of briefings and edited them for the FPC’s website and social media.
The internship was a great opportunity to make friends with people from outside of Temple University and from other states. It was so exciting to be a part of this program and to gain exposure to a real journalist’s work.
Anh Nguyen is a sophomore double-majoring in journalism and information science and technology. Her specializations are data journalism, investigative reporting and data visualization. Nguyen is an Honors Peer Mentor and Resident Assistant at Morgan Hall, and works as a designer for the Temple News.
Nguyen is originally from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. After graduation, she wants to go back to her country and advocate for social and political reform.