An earlier trip to Washington, D.C., was enough to whet Peter Walsworth's appetite. The opportunity to return to the nation's capital this summer as an intern for Sen. Ted Stevens was just what he was looking for.
"I got to go to D.C. earlier this year and it was really cool to be able to see all these people who were actually molding, shaping our country," Walsworth said. In February, he traveled to Washington as one of two Alaska student delegates selected for the United States Senate Youth Program. After the February experience, Walsworth added, "I wanted to maybe help out with that a little bit, and also to be able to see more of it and get a little more of an inside idea of what really goes on in the Senate and the Capitol."
One or two days a week, Walsworth and other interns toured various Washington locations. Other days, which began as early as 9 a.m. and ended around 5 p.m., he and other interns researched and drafted answers to questions from all over the country.
"We helped gather information and sent them (the drafted responses) a little higher up the line to be reviewed and changed," Walsworth said, adding that the prevailing attitude was that Stevens and his staff, including the interns, work for Alaskans.
"Those were the ones we needed to pay the most attention to," Walsworth said. "In general, that was really the most important thing about it we were responding first to the Alaskans and then to other people."
The subjects raised were as widely spread as the state is big.
"There were so many topics. We had everything from ANWR to leasing prisons. We had the effects of high gas prices on tourism," Walsworth said of areas of interest the 12 interns addressed. "One person was doing a report on a polar bear in a zoo. The topics were everything and anything. As long as people were asking about them, we'd respond."
Sen. Stevens' interns were housed in the George Washington University dormitories.
"It was really fun because all of the high school interns were on the same floor. We had a lot of late-night chats and movie watching," Walsworth said.
The interns also took advantage of their evening hours to tour the city.
For the opportunity of interning, Walsworth was responsible for paying his own transportation and dorm housing. However, he also was paid as an intern so, he said, "it kind of evened itself out."
Would he do it again?
"It think so," he said. "It was just really awesome to see all these great historic American landmarks, to be able to see the presidential front-runners and to just see the people who are important in our country."
During one visit to the Senate floor, Walsworth saw Hillary Clinton, Barak Obama and John McCain.
"And we got to actually spend time with Ted Stevens, Lisa Murkowski and Don Young, just asking them questions," Walsworth said. "We spent about an hour each week with Ted Stevens, just sitting down and talking to him. As long as we asked questions, he'd stay there and answer."
Should Alaskans expect to see the name "Peter Walsworth" on the ballot at some point in the future, looking for a lengthier stay in Washington, D.C.?
"I've thought about it. Maybe as a second career after I go off to college and get situated with a job and work for awhile," said the former Homer High School student body president. "I would definitely consider running for a smaller office, but I don't know about Capitol Hill."
For now, however, Walsworth's eyes are on starting college. He is heading to Arizona State University, where he will begin studying music in ASU's Barrett Honors College.
"I'm looking to major in vocal performance at the moment, but that's definitely subject to change," he said.
McKibben Jackinsky is a reporter for the Homer News.
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