We’re in week six of the internship, and I’m starting to feel like a true Washingtonian. I thought I might start off this post with a little segment that reflects on what I have picked up or learned in The District. The time here is still flying by! The past few weeks have been a little stressful, what with my class papers and finishing my TWC work, as well as attending class, civic engagement, and work. Work has been work, and while I do not want to pursue law as a career (yet!), I have made valuable contacts for my future endeavors.
You may be a Washingtonian if…
- You’ve sworn at a tourist for not staying to the right on an escalator in the Metro, especially at major stops like Dupont Circle or Chinatown
- You know not to order a regular-size hamburger at Five Guys, unless you’re REALLY hungry
- You get used to the train being filled with soldiers, airmen, Marines and sailors going to work at the Pentagon if you take the Yellow/ Blue line trains
- You don’t get lost at Dupont Circle (I still do)
- You are unsurprised by the amount of seersucker/bow ties worn by men along Pennsylvania Avenue
I’m finding myself somewhat complacent with DC, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The other day, I was walking past the Capitol to the Rayburn Building to attend a committee as part of my internship placement. It struck me that I wasn’t immediately awed by the sheer magnitude of America’s magnificent capitol. What struck me while looking at the Capitol was, “This is my job?” It’s a surreal feeling when something as powerful of an image as the Capitol loses its almost romantic appeal and just becomes a task or a routine part of your life. Please don’t misunderstand me, I do not take it for granted. For the first time, I didn’t feel like a tourist and I felt like just one of many of The District’s denizens who call this awe-inspiring city home.
The Washington Center
By this point, we have been exposed to some of The Washington Center’s programming activities, assignments, and Presidential Lecture Series. Every other week or so, TWC interns must submit professional reflections to their program supervisor. The purpose of the professional reflections is implied in the name, but they are a surprisingly useful opportunity for interns to meditate on their progress thus far in DC and their goals and aspirations while working here. We had to submit a rough draft of our Individual Development Plan, which is a personal reflection on our strengths and weaknesses in five areas: academic development, professional development, civic engagement, leadership, and personal growth. I approached the assignment with a certain disdain and hesitancy towards completing it, but soon found myself actually thinking about what I wanted professionally out of the internship and how I wanted to better myself personally while in Washington.
The Presidential Lecture Series is put on by the Washington Center for all interns, and features discussions on various topics with panels of politicians, corporations, business leaders, community activists and varying other individuals discussing a various topics or could be a tour.
Last week, the Law and Criminal Justice program toured The Pentagon. The tour was interesting, but I felt it moved too quickly. There were numerous displays along the way, and we were not afforded enough time to read them over, in my opinion. In the POW/MIA hallway, we learned that more than 74,000 military men and women are still missing and have been since the Vietnam War. This is distressing to me because I never imagined that many people were missing.
We then entered the wing where Flight 77 crashed into The Pentagon. In this hallway, it dawned upon me that I was standing where 184 people were killed by a terrorist attack. This sat heavy on my shoulders, until we entered the memorial. The memorial is housed in a small room off of a chapel inside The Pentagon. It has the names of every person killed aboard the flight and who were inside the building at the time, as well as a Purple Heart medal and a Defense of Freedom Medal, the medal given to the civilians.
It was very touching and awe-inspiring to see the books of the victims, in which family members placed a picture and wrote about each individual. There was not enough time to peruse the victim book, but it was saddening and encouraging at the same time. I did not have time to see the benches outside, but I would love to return. This tour was interesting and worthy of anyone’s time.
The temporal demands of my internship unfortunately leave me with little time to go out and explore the city, so I don’t have much of an update in that respect. However, I have been out a few times to the fun parts of Alexandria and Arlington (across the Potomac in Virginia). King Street is the main shopping and socializing street in Alexandria. Also in Virginia is Arlington National Cemetery, a military cemetery with over 300,000 graves, including JFK’s. It is stunningly beautiful yet eerie at the same time. The thought that three hundred thousand people are buried there will weigh heavily on you if you stay at Arlington for a while, and I had to leave because of it. It is a must-see for anybody visiting Washington.
I promised I would talk about my Civic Engagement Project so as this post I’m going to give you a short summary of what I will be doing.
This project is an advocacy and outreach project to the members of the United States Congress. Our goal was to let our Senators and Representatives know that we, as students and constituents, are concerned about the peace process between Israel and Palestine and would like to see the United States take a leadership role in these efforts. We believe it is crucial that a solution be found soon otherwise it may be impossible in the future. There will be a number of us undertaking this project on Capitol Hill and we will attempt to meet with as many of our Congressional offices as possible. Our main efforts centered around conversing with the staffer about the situation and getting the Congressmen’s opinion on the subject. We will be asking each staffer or member if they would potentially support a Congressional Resolution supporting the following points:
1-Support a two state solution to the conflict in Israel;
2-Oppose terrorism and all forms of violence;
3-Support the Mahmoud Abbas government;
4-Oppose settlement expansion, including natural growth, in all parts of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
We received varied results but we certainly achieved our goal of making it known that students around the country care about this issue and that the United States should take a leadership role.
Overall this has and will continue to be a very fun project. The rest of the interns and I really enjoyed talking about a topic that we are passionate about and being on Capitol Hill is always fun. You feel like you’re making a difference and that’s what the Civic Engagement part of The Washington Center is all about.
I hope you guys have enjoyed this summary. Maybe you can get together with some of your friends and advocate for an issue you feel strongly about. It’s a great way to make connections and work for a good cause. It’s just a thought. Until Next Week!!