Intern of the week: Renaming French fries was ‘stupid,’ says French intern

If the experience of a French Capitol Hill intern is any indication, it appears the “freedom fry” fiasco is history and Franco-American relations have normalized in D.C.

Astrid Bauters, a 21-year-old intern for Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.) who hails from the northern French city of Lille, said her thick accent has not exposed her to any anti-French sentiment on the Hill. Politicians and the press, she said, overstate the tension between the two countries.

“French people and American people are not so different,” said Bauters, who described the 2003 renaming of French fries as freedom fries in the House cafeteria as “completely stupid.” The name was eventually changed back to French fries.

In Davis’s office, Bauters sorts mail, does research and assists staff with various projects. Twice a week she works for the Democratic Leadership Council, where she conducts research comparing the United States with the European Union. She said she considers herself lucky to be working in Washington, where she can both improve her language skills and learn more about politics.

“If I work at McDonald’s [or] something like that I can practice my English, but [it’s] not the same [as working in Congress],” Bauters said, perhaps in comic understatement. “I’m very lucky to work here in the Congress.”

Bauters recently earned a law license in France and, after a three-month stint in the States, will go to Paris to pursue a master’s degree in political science. Still undecided about her career, she would like to get involved in international politics. She said she could see herself as the first female president of France.

“My dream is to represent my country around the world,” she said.