Kingston’s African intern impressed by D.C. landscape

Working as a congressional intern in the office of Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) was far from anything Sandra Kouaho imagined doing during college.

A native of the Ivory Coast, Kouaho explained, “In the beginning I didn’t intend to come [to the U.S.]” for college. She had planned instead to further her education in London, but her father, who attended an American college, convinced her to come here. In August of 2004, she found herself aboard a plane to the U.S., bound for Liberty University.

When asked what surprised her the most about the U.S., Kouaho, 21, described her very first impressions of the American landscape, “when I came out of the airport and I saw the city.” She said, “Everything is on a bigger scale here … bigger roads, bigger houses, bigger stores.”

The shock wore off, and Kouaho jumped into life stateside with both feet. A business major in her junior year, she arrived in Washington this semester hoping to gain skills to help the citizens of her home country.

Her goal is to work for an international organization like UNICEF while residing in the Ivory Coast — or Côte d’Ivoire, as the native Francophone would say. “The first victim of war is always children” she said, noting that she has experienced that reality firsthand, having seen the effects of coups and civil unrest on her own country.

“Government is all about how you work with people, what you do to really help people, how to solve the problems they’re really having,” she said. The opportunities she has had here to work with constituents and interact with the legislative process have given her the confidence that she “can really help people solve their problems.”

Kouaho’s spring internship ended last week.