Adapting to COVID-19 restrictions, the Bowdoin Public Service in Washington program is still moving forward this year. Instead of the program’s normal culminating trip to Washington, D.C., during the first week of spring break, the trip has been modified into a virtual program called Deep Dive D.C. that will take place during Spring Break on March 22 and 23.
Sarah Chingos, associate director for public service, is working to adapt the program to fit a socially distant model.
At first, she wasn’t sure it was even possible. Chingos put together a focus group of past participants to gauge whether or not they could move the program online and if it would still be valuable without the in-person Washington experience.
“The feeling that students gave was that there’s still real value in the conversations and the exploration of public policy and public service,” said Chingos in a Zoom interview with the Orient.
Select sophomores will participate in a series of six virtual seminars over the course of the spring semester. Each 90-minute session will include an overview of a federal agency with an alum to delve into the organization and the policy areas it focuses on. Unlike in previous years, some former participants will be invited back.
“We’re going to start to loop in our young alumni who were part of the Bowdoin Public Service Program… I’m really excited,” said Chingos.
Part of each seminar will include a professional development workshop with a recent alum to discuss topics such as networking in public service and how to write policy briefs.
Deep Dive D.C. will also heavily feature Bowdoin alumni.
“During that time we will have a series of virtual meetings with alumni who have had long and committed careers to protecting our federal institutions and preserving our democracy,” said Chingos.
This will be an opportunity for participants to engage with prominent leaders and gain an understanding of the value of public service.
“Even though we can’t get the boots-on-the-ground experience in Washington, D.C.,” said Chinogs, “we still have a valuable experience to share through our incredible alumni who support our programs.”
Applications for the Bowdoin Public Service 2021 cohort are due at noon on Friday, October 30.