Congressional Research Fellowship Program winner Tim Balin.

Land of opportunity

12 January 2016

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Two Crawford School students are set for an incredible American adventure where they will get to walk the corridors of a world superpower, interact with Washington’s movers and shakers, and get deep experience of the US policy-making process.

Crawford students Tim Balin and Colette Boraso are this year’s winners of the 2016 Congressional Research Fellowship Program (CRFP). The program will see them in Washington DC for three months early this year.

The CRFP places outstanding ANU honours and graduate students, and recent ANU graduates in the offices of United States’ Senators with an aim to identify and foster a new generation of leaders while promoting investment in the Australia-US relationship.

Master of Public Administration and Master of Public Policy student Tim Balin wants to build upon his academic understanding of US political systems and US-Australia relations, as well indulging in a sporting passion.

“By being involved with the US federal system I hope to witness and understand how think tanks, lobby groups and other significant associations interact with political systems and how these interactions influence the policy agenda and the policy-making process,” he said.

“Also, I am pretty big fan of the NBA so I’m looking forward to checking out a few NBA games. I may even return a Washington Wizards fan!”

The Australian Public Service (APS) could also benefit from Tim’s US adventure.

“Given my background in the APS, the ability to witness variations in the policy-making process will provide valuable insight and reflection to understand how Australia’s political process may be advanced,” he said.

But he hasn’t ruled out using his new knowledge as a hook for further study either.

“One of the reasons I applied for the program is that it would provide me with the opportunity to refine my research interests with the view to undertaking a higher research degree in the future.”

As part of the program, fellows must submit a 4,000-word research paper.

Tim plans to focus his research on the costs and benefits of defence offsets, using a comparative case study of Australia and the United States.

“I’m looking forward to undertaking research and understanding the important issues and policy for the Office of the Senator and their constituents,” he said.

“I thrive on undertaking research and think it will be an important time to showcase some of my skills and learnings from my postgraduate studies and work experience.”

But that doesn’t mean there won’t be first day jitters.

“I think the first day when I am walking to the office will be a scary and an exhilarating moment.

“It symbolises the hard work and effort which enabled me to be there and the beginning of an unbelievable experience; being entrusted to represent ANU and the Australian community in the office of a US Senator.”

Despite a gruelling schedule while he’s there, Tim says the importance of this experience is not lost on him.

“Working and living in Washington DC, even for a short time and in a US Senator’s office, is a dream I never thought I would get the opportunity to do,” he said.

“It is an honour and a privilege that ANU puts faith in students and enables us to be a part of the ongoing legacy between Australia and the US.”

Apply to study at Crawford School of Public Policy today and find out where your studies could take you.

By Kelly Hayward

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