Internship: Democrats Abroad in Madrid

Democrats Abroad (DA) operates around the world and is officially associated with the US Democratic Party, so when Andrea Parra began her internship with the group in Madrid, she had no idea just how much the experience would teach her about Spain and Madrid.

The fifth-year Public Policy and Anthropology double major had experience coordinating large-scale events for the campus housing department at the University of California, Riverside. Together with another intern, Stephen Read from the University of California, Santa Barbara, Andrea organized and attended different events for DA, including a summer membership party and a Spain for Hillary event. She coordinated directly with local vendors, traveling to the far corners of the city to arrange purchases and finalize details.

It was at the Hillary event that Andrea turned around and saw a familiar face, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, former Spanish prime minister. “I had just studied him in my politics course [at the Accent Madrid Study Center],” she remembered. “It was crazy to see him in person and introduce myself!”

Andrea worked with DA leadership at Google’s Campus Madrid, wedged between tech start-ups and local entrepreneurs. When not event planning, she was trained as a voter assistance officer and assisted with voter registration events around the city, and also managed the organization’s direct mail and social media initiatives.

At the end of the internship, DA invited Andrea to march with the group in the Madrid Orgullo parade, the city’s annual LGBT pride event. “I didn’t realize how big of a deal it was until I arrived to march,” she reflected with a laugh. Madrid hosts the largest pride event in Europe, welcoming more than 1.5 million attendees last year.

Back on campus, Andrea and Stephen worked with the University of California Education Abroad Program (UCEAP) to develop a voter registration initiative for fall students. “Before I left, I didn’t know I could vote from abroad. I was so happy to create and send literature to every single UC study abroad office.”