Northwest Community College Initiative (NWCCI) students participate in a variety of activities to learn about the U.S. government. In this post, Raju Pulivandlas from India, writes about how participating in two programs sponsored by the City of Lynnwood, Lynnwood University and the Citizen’s Academy, led to his interning in the Mayor’s Office. He also reflects on his first-hand experience with politics through his internship with the City of Lynnwood’s mayor, Nicola Smith. Raju is studying business at Edmonds Community College.
I am originally from a city called Hyderabad in south central India . I love my country and the city where I grew up. My state in particular is known for its interesting politics. Since childhood, all I knew about politics was that politicians change their parties depending upon which party is successful, working just for money or power. There were very few leaders I knew of who worked for the people. Having such a bad impression, I never showed any interest in politics. I had read and heard about a few leaders who gave all of their life for the people but I never had an opportunity to meet them.
After arriving in the U.S. in August 2013, I was looking forward to meeting and talking to the policemen, government officials and specifically politicians here. In the past 7 months, I have been able to see a few of the departments and compare them to the work and quality in my country. I am a graduate of the City of Lynnwood’s Lynnwood University and the police department’s Citizen’s Academy. I took the Citizen’s Academy classes to observe the department thoroughly so that I can go back and implement the work culture in my country. Not that we don’t have good work culture in India, it is just that we don’t have enough resources for the state of the art equipment which the U.S. police use.
Though I personally loved the Citizen’s Academy more for all the information and people I met there, the Lynnwood University classes and graduation had an impact on my life as one of the participants, Nicola Smith from Edmonds Community College was, at the time, running for mayor. Nicola Smith was very well known at the college. After I graduated from the City of Lynnwood, the elections took place and Dean Nicola Smith became Mayor Nicola Smith. Mayor Smith came to my first class at the Citizens Academy and welcomed everyone. By the I graduated from the Citizens Academy, I was accepted as an intern with the City of Lynnwood mayor’s office. I am currently working directly with the mayor for my internship, and I never thought that I would work directly with a politician.
Working with Mayor Smith is fascinating for me. I have the privilege to be in meetings with the mayor and the citizens of Lynnwood as one the projects I work with is Citizen Engagement. Sometimes citizens walk into mayor’s office frustrated with various issues concerning life here at Lynnwood, but they always walk out with a smile on their face and an assurance from the mayor. It is so fascinating for me that Mayor Smith listens to each and every citizen patiently. Almost every citizen compliments Mayor Smith for starting a platform where everyone who wants to meet her can meet directly once a week and explain their issues. Mayor Smith is a great host; she goes out to the reception to greet people who come to visit her. I have observed many of the citizens who were sad when they were waiting for the mayor are so happy after those fifteen minutes. Sometimes, I feel like there is magic around her. A small note on her wall, which says “Blossom where you are planted” explains a lot.
Mayor Smith is so humble that she not only hosts everyone who visits her with great coffee and chocolates, she also washes the cup which the citizens use. I had never seen or heard of any elected politician being so humble after getting elected. I have seen a few politicians being humble before the elections; but once they get elected they are completely new personalities. Mayor Smith is so different from them. She respects each and every human being.
The mayor’s humbleness in each and every small aspect concerning people is equipping me with humbleness day by day. Many call her the People’s Mayor. I am so glad that I am working with a politician who is for the people, by the people and of the people. I am afraid that I might like politics after working with Mayor Nicola Smith here.
The NWCCI program is part of the Community College Initiative, an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs.