Jun 16, 2011 | By Andi Hinnenkamp, NETWORK Intern
NETWORK is deeply grateful for the presence in our office of dedicated interns and volunteers. Without them, it would be impossible to accomplish all the work needed to fulfill our mission! Andi is one of our summer interns this year, and here is her story.
Hi, My name is Andi Hinnenkamp. I am originally from Wichita, KS and will be a junior this year at Creighton University in Omaha, NE. My majors are in Political Science: Public Policy and History with an International Relations Specialization. Government and history have always fascinated me so it is a privilege for me to be interning with NETWORK in DC for a few months. I am learning a lot so far about the legislation process, especially the things they don’t teach you in school.
The specific area I am researching here at NETWORK will be military budget spending. This is especially important in the light of federal budget talks and the many conflicts our country is currently involved with. I was happy to hear that NETWORK’s policy on defense spending is in line with my own. We are not idealists who argue that war is always wrong and defense should never be used. Yet, it should be the last resort. Before we use the military we need to create strong diplomatic relations with a country and work with them to develop their country.
In light of our faith, our budget must reflect our values. Many politicians today will tell you that the number one priority of our nation is to provide a strong defense. I would like to hear instead that the number one priority of our nation is to insure that U.S. citizens are able to live up to their full potential. Instead, we find huge numbers of Americans incarcerated each year, many children who do not get the adequate education they deserve, an ever-growing economic disparity between the wealthy and poorest Americans, and high unemployment rates.
This also plays into the other project I will be helping with: the Mind the Gap! campaign. This past year in school I was part of an intentional community on one of our residence hall floors, named after the late great Jon Cortina, SJ. As a community we were required to take a class on Justice and Peace Studies. There we studied the idea of inequalities in our society, whether racial or economic. It opened my eyes to the fact that I am extremely lucky that I have everything I have, even compared to most of those in America. I thought poverty was something that affected very few Americans and was something only third-world countries experienced in great quantities. Yet, poverty exists in vast quantities all over our nation. I think too many people do not realize how horrible the problem has become and how easy it is for people to slip from the middle to poor class in the U.S. So I’m hoping to use my knowledge and perspective to help Page May with the campaign.