Political Leaders and Publications

[Monday, May 26 - Tuesday, May 27]

Last Monday, work took a sharp turn away from the paper editing. Because parliamentary elections were set for June 8 only a month ago, there's a frantic rush to get things done before elections, which originally weren't to be held until November. For us at D4D, this meant attempting to do the seemingly impossible by getting a bunch of political leaders to do hour-long interviews a week before elections.

Essentially, D4D hopes to map out each political party's position on a variety of issues. Excise taxes. Abortion. Foreign policy. The role of religion in government. One interesting aspect of working in a fledgling democracy is that political parties haven't necessarily decided their stance on core social issues. This isn't all that surprising since politics in Kosovo revolve around the strength of the leader rather than the ideological orientation of the party.

At work last Monday our boss asked a fellow intern and me to conduct thirty interviews with prominent leaders of different parties by Wednesday. This meant cold calling deputy presidents, general secretaries, ministers, members of parliament, expert groups, mayors, branch leaders, and activists, which was made all the more interesting since most of the people we called didn't speak English (thank goodness for our gracious bilingual coworkers who helped us out). After the calling came the interviews, which took us to cafes, restaurants, and political headquarters all over the city.

Despite the many, many calls, most political leaders were too busy to meet with us since it's so close to elections. Some didn't want to meet with us because they were hesitant to write down their positions on certain issues, even though responses were anonymous. At any rate, we weren't able to get all of the interviews done, so the report will be published in September instead of next week. Although it's disappointing that the publication won't be out before elections, we tried our best. When we came back to the office after some of the interviews one of our coworkers jokingly said we were turning into "party people... political party people."

[Wednesday, May 28]

On Wednesday, work slowed down quite a bit due to the fact that no other political leaders could interview with us, so I continued to work on the Rule of Law paper.

[Thursday, May 29]

When I arrived at the office on Thursday, I had an email aksing to have something typed up by noon about think tanks' research methodologies and quality control measures for a grant proposal due the next day. Four hours later, I submitted a six-page, single-spaced Word document. After that rush, I went to lunch. When I got back to the office, my boss assigned me another task for the grant proposal. This time, I had to write about the political context that D4D operates in, other actors at work within Kosovo, and what makes D4D's work distinct. After a cup of green tea and three cups of coffee, my adrenaline was up, and I submitted a finished draft to my boss before work ended at 4:30. 

[Friday, May 30] 

Work shifted back to the paper editing on Friday. The day would have been business as usual if we hadn't stumbled upon Kosovo's president, Atifete Jahjaga, on Mother Teresa Street.

After work, Erica, Taylor, and I packed up and took the bus to Ulcinj, Montenegro. One of the big perks about interning in the Balkans is that it's just a short, inexpensive trip to some truly gorgeous places.

[Monday, June 2]

After a fun weekend in Montenegro, it was back to work on Monday. My boss had a conference to go over the Rule of Law paper with me. I have a few more days before the final draft is due, but my boss was really pleased with the progress. He even typed my name on the title page to give me credit for my contribution. It's been incredible to get this paper ready for publication. The process has strengthened my research, editing, and analytical skills. I also understand the rule of law in Kosovo on a much more intimate level than I thought possible so early in my internship. The fact that my name will be on a publication is more than I had hoped for when I applied to work at D4D. Words aren't adequate to express my gratitude for such an opportunity.

More exciting times are to come as parliamentary elections are to be held on Sunday. As a D4D intern, I get to help observe the elections to try to prevent voter fraud. I can't wait to go beyond research and see how Kosovo's political system functions firsthand.