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The Voice

23 July 2009
Written by

"Hi! This is Tallie from Project Vote Smart. Is this still a good time to talk?" That is how I began nearly 200 conversations with perfect strangers. As the internship coordinator, I have the responsibility of sifting through the multitude of applications we get for the National Internship and choosing the best and the brightest to spend the summer saving democracy in beautiful Montana. The applicant has just their voice and a few brief minutes to demonstrate their knowledge and commitment to PVS, as well as their experience, knowledge and skills that should put them ahead of the other candidates. In those brief moments, it shocked and inspired me to learn about the richness of their experiences and the generosity in their hearts.

My favorite question is "what accomplishment are you most proud of?" This is when students tell me about starting a homeless shelter in their church, creating a safe place for at-risk youth to hang out, starting an NGO, working in an orphanage or reading to the blind in their spare time. I also hear about their personal accomplishments and triumphs like being a mentor to their siblings or being the first person in their family to go to college. I get to hear about the transformational moments in their lives--the moments they knew they were addicted to politics and would dedicate their lives to public service. Several of my applicants attended debates, caucuses, conventions or the inauguration and were forever changed. However, the most rewarding part of my job was meeting the people I had chosen just from pieces of paper and brief conversations. Suddenly, those abstract names came to life and interacted with each other. They formed lifelong friendships and had life changing experiences. The interns here at Project Vote Smart are truly heroes for democracy. The work they do is not glamorous, but they work tirelessly because each believes in the public's right to unbiased information. They are diverse in their views and backgrounds but all exceptional. Their 10-week service at the Great Divide Ranch is certainly an amazing accomplishment and something they can all be proud of.

-Tallie Spiller, Internship Coordinator

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