A Summer at the Department of State

James MoffittWhen James Moffitt was serving as the ship's intelligence officer aboard the USS Honolulu in the Pacific Ocean, he recognized that policy was made at a much higher level than aboard his submarine.

"Of the five things that most interested me when I was a lieutenant in the Navy," he says, "the Department of State was at the top." This interest is what directed him to the UNM School of Law — to learn about the law, where policies are made.

Moffitt already has passed the written portion of the Foreign Service exam and even though he is not scheduled to graduate until next spring, he already has held a position inside the Department of State. Last summer, he was an intern with the department's Office of Chinese and Mongolian Affairs, a hotbed of activity given President George Bush's visit to the Olympics in Beijing.

"I wanted to find out if I would still be interested in a career in the Foreign Service six-to-eight years into it, so I wanted to work in Washington, D.C. alongside people who are at that place in their careers," he says. The consensus: "I loved it. I was excited to go into work every day, and after 11 hours, I went home happy."

Although he can't offer many details, during his internship Moffitt spent time at congressional hearings and think tanks around Washington, D.C., worked closely with the new consul general for Shanghai, attended the opening of the Chinese Embassy and processed visa requests.

"Every day was different and strange," he says. "One day I'd write letters, the next day I'd have lunch with the Chinese charge d'affaires or accept petitions from followers of Falun Gong." He also learned that there are more members of U.S. military bands than Department of State employees worldwide.

The final week of his internship, Moffitt, along with hundreds of other interns, was treated to a 20-minute question-and-answer session with current Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

"I got to see so many things, talk to so many people and discovered that even the smallest-ranking person can make a difference."

As a member of the International Law Students Association, Moffitt helped organize an Oct. 31 visit to the UNM law school by J. Robert Manzanares, the Department of State's current diplomat-in-residence at UNM.