Washington DC 2011

Take two of my internship in DC… Starting January 18, ending on May 6, interning with the United States Secret Service.

Reflections on DC and Metro

This is it. The end is here. I figured this would be a good opportunity for me to bestow part one of my words of wisdom upon any prospective or future TWC students and other people interested in internships in DC.

The Metro is your friend. Buy a Smartcard as quickly as possible. It is extremely convenient for when you go out and have to use the Metro. Read the maps. Don’t stand on the left side of the escalator – you will get plowed out of the way by an angry rider or two. Don’t take it personal. It’s just the way it is.

READ THE NEWSPAPER! The Express is handed out for free every single weekday morning. Read it and know it!! All current local, national, and international events are in there. All sorts of gossip, showtimes, and similar things are as well. You’ll be the only person who is out of the loop when your coworkers and friends are talking about the day’s hot topics.

Use Peapod.com for grocery delivery when you have to buy a ton of food. They bring it to you and sometimes you can use coupons. It’s a pain to try to carry a ton of food around, so having someone do all the work for you is a plus.

SIGHTSEE! Go check out all the free stuff! You never know what you’re gonna find. The Smithsonian Museums are all free, there are monuments, and oodles more to do. Go to random Metro stops and just wander around! Check out the following spots: Eastern Market (on Saturdays and Sundays), Gallery Place-Chinatown, King Street, Adams Morgan. These are just a few of the many places that are awesome down here

DO YOUR HOMEWORK AND YOUR PORTFOLIO. Repeat. Read that again. The portfolio is a sneaky little monster that will creep up on you your last weekend here while you are trying to do some last minute sight seeing and going out with your friends. Seriously work on everything early so it doesn’t ruin your fun later.

Have fun! Life is short and so is your internship experience. It’s what you make of it. If you spend your time just laying around and not sightseeing, then you are wasting precious moments! Go out and experience as much as you can. This is an area that is practically drenched in history.

Now I know several of my other fellow bloggers has spoken about their dismay with the Metro system in Washington. I have many of the same grievances against it as they do. I hate being pushed and shoved by people attempting to pile into a train as much as the next guy.

The subway system in DC isn’t all that bad. It is rather easy to figure out…within my first couple of days of being in DC I pretty much had it done pat. It’s that simple as compared to subway systems in …I don’t know…NEW YORK..which are ridiculous. I’ve talked to several people while I was in New York who had been living there for years and still have yet to figure out all the twists and turns of their subway system. Sheesh!

New York Subway system. Confusing huh? Yeah, I know.

DC Metro map. May look confusing now, but trust me…it’s really easy.

The Metro can also be rather entertaining. It is always fun to watch the 50-or-so-year -old man with earphones in his ear bobbing his head trying to relive his younger years or to see the thirty-year-old balding man who decided that keeping an earring in his ear was still part of the professional world. It’s also always fun to listen to tourists new to the Washington area attempting to find their way around the metro. I am often kind enough to offer my kind assistance if I can, which makes me feel like I really got this place figured out. I’m no longer the new kid on the block

Few tips that I can rattle together based on what I have experienced:

1. If you’re traveling during rush hour, during the morning or around the time you get off from around 5ish-6:30ish/7, more than likely you don’t have too much to worry about. With so many people using the system at this time, and most of them are normal, you don’t have too much going on. But still continue to scope your surroundings to make sure nothing funny is going on. You never know!

2. If you’re traveling a little later or during a time when there aren’t that many people in your train, try as hard as you can to get to a position where you can see the entire train in front of you. Ideally, sit as close to the back as you can so you have nothing or no one behind you (especially if you are a young lady as I am, but this is also a good tip for guys as well).

3. Don’t be afraid to get into the big crowds. Usually when it’s time to head home, everyone is tired and super ready to be at home. They will push you out of the way…or yell at you because you aren’t moving fast enough.

4. If someone does yell at you, don’t yell back. Not that anyone will hit you or anything (they might) but it’s just so unproductive and gets nothing solved.

5. When using the escalators, in the off-chance that they are working, always stand to the right and walk to the left if you want to pass people.

6. Going along with tip #5, don’t be surprised if almost all the escalators aren’t working. They often don’t and most times it isn’t a big deal because they are usually just the length of a normal staircase. BuT then there are the monster ecalators like the one at Dupont circle which has sooo many stairs. It sucks when those escalators are out, and yes…I have had to experience that, thanks for asking!

7. On weekends, add like 30 or so extra minutes on to your travel time if you have to use the Metro. They are always doing something during the weekends and the trains don’t run as frequently as they do during the week.

Those are just a few of the tips that I could think of. For the most part the Metro system is rather convenient.

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DISCLAIMER! This entry is going to be a tad longer than others due to my absence. Sorry Chris!

Ever single time I sit down to write a blog, the same thought keeps crossing my mind: “Wow, the weeks are going by way too fast.” This is definitely true! I have had the same routine for awhile now: wake up, work, home, dinner, shower, sleep, repeat. It may sound dull, but it’s the truth. Working a “9-to-5” (or whatever hours it may be) like an adult is probably the most exhausting thing I have ever had to do. The weather has became absolutely GORGEOUS in comparison to the extension of winter we had.

This experience was without a doubt the craziest, weirdest, strangest, most exciting time of my life. I had the opportunity to work with, live with, and become friends with people I would have never met otherwise.

For those who didn’t read from the beginning, I was an intern with the United States Secret Service and I will miss it every single day! I worked with all the departments and had the opportunity to see the “other side” of what happens in the federal government. I am grateful for interning in the USSS, as I would have never really had an understanding of the behind-the-scenes work. Administrative work definitely isn’t taught in textbooks.

I had the greatest time at my internship. I had the time of my life, as corny as that may seem. USSS was great to me. I worked with and learned from some of the most compassionate, funny, and smart people I have ever met. I am grateful that I was able to have such a fun semester. My final bit of advice about this semester that I can offer is enjoy every single day, work as hard as possible, and meet as many people as time allows. You never know where life’s crazy journey is going to take you, especially down in DC, but rest assured, the ride is worth it.

This week was probably one of my best yet!! At work, we got to tour the Secret Service Rowley Training Center. Read that again. SECRET SERVICE ROWLEY TRAINING CENTER.  It was without a doubt one of the coolest places I have ever been to. So many big names have been there, celebrities touring for background on movies, movies being SHOT there, famous agents, etc! We also got to see the famous Hogan’s Alley — which is basically a “fake town” that the agents in training simulate and role play different scenarios in: entering houses, doing traffic pull-overs, going into hotels, etc. All in all I was really thrilled to be able to go see such a well-known facility and appreciated the opportunity. It didn’t hurt that I scored myself some USSS swag…

My class that I took was Managing the American Intelligence community with Dr. Holstine. It was a great class to take because extremely interesting! I learned all about leadership theories, types of personalities, working across generations, and more. I was able to develop better study habits to bring back in the fall for my senior year. I managed to actively participate in class every single week, and was able to interact with other people who I might have never talked to in the first place.

I was able to develop and perfect leadership skills that I had not previously possessed. My class was a direct link into my development of said skills. I was able to to observe leaders in the news and compared their application of leadership to the factual knowledge that I was picking up from the classroom. I believe that I was successful in using the class to become a leader myself. I have developed more confidence as a result of the class in one semester, more than I have ever before in my life. I am certain that I will be able to take the leadership skills with me across other facets as I prepare to enter my last year of college.

I grew as an individual more in this semester than I have during any other experience so far in my life. I became far more assertive, productive, and positive seemingly overnight. By keeping myself motivated throughout the day, I was able to cut back on somewhat bad habits that I had, and this stemmed from my academic and leadership pursuits. Keeping positive throughout the day and being productive are two ways I was able to keep myself motivated to wake up every day and do work throughout the semester.

I had the greatest time at my internship. I had the time of my life, as corny as that may seem. USSS was great to me. I worked with and learned from some of the most compassionate, funny, and smart people I have ever met. I am grateful that I was able to have such a fun semester. My final bit of advice about this semester that I can offer is enjoy every single day, work as hard as possible, and meet as many people as time allows. You never know where life’s crazy journey is going to take you, especially down in DC, but rest assured, the ride is worth it.

Definitely the greatest experience I have ever had in my life thus far!

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Cherry Blossom Festivities and GREAT WEEKEND

First off, story of my day once I get back home from work! I must say I have gained a new appreciation for my parents and all they do for my brother and I since I’ve started working here in DC. It used to be as soon as my mom walked in the door from a full day of work, I would be there with the timeless question, “what’s for dinner?!” not at all thinking that she’s probably not in the mood to cook right now. I have had those days where I just did NOT feel like cooking after I got back home from work, but nevertheless, I had to because unlike lovely college years, I cannot just walk to a cafeteria where food will just appear before me. My family’s opinion has always meant so much to me but more-so now.

I must admit that this past week was probably the most tiring, annoying weeks since my arrival to Washington. Between the craziness at work, and workload for the Washington Center, it’s been difficult to manage, but all that changed over the weekend. A close group of friends came down for the 5k Cherry Blossom on Saturday. Chris and Yostina Khalil (weird calling Yostina- Khalil, Veronica Khalil {AWESOME SEEING YOU} Marina Matta, Mina Massak, and my DC neighbors George Phillips and Mark Doss. They arrived at approximately 1600hrs. 4PM (finally getting used to military timing), we hung out around the city, but we all needed to prepare mentally for RACE DAY!

I will keep the my comments brief about the race… needed to train more. PERIOD

As the spring approaches DC has both pros and cons to it…

  1. The DC cherry blossom festival arrives!
  2. The incessant sneezing begins – its allergy season and all these blooming plants definitely don’t help.
  3. You find yourself walking the few extra blocks in the morning (or at least in the afternoon) to the Metro in order to avoid switching trains, just because its finally nice out.
  4. Random tulip and daffodil gardens planted all over the city find themselves in bloom.
  5. You find you don’t necessarily need to wear that heavy overcoat you dragged into the office that morning when you step out of work to head home in the late afternoon.
  6. The weather is completely bi-polar – 75 one day, and 40 the next.  (At least we’re not as bad as the northeast.
  7. You begin to notice games of kickball and flag football taking place on the middle of the National Mall in the shadow of the Washington Monument.
  8. The plethora of fountains found throughout the city emerges from their winter-long drought.
  9. Those who prefer to bag their high-heels for the morning metro commute find themselves wearing flip-flops instead of Uggs.

10. Cyclists and runners take over the National Mall on the weekends, making it nearly impossible for those not athletically inclined to walk along it without the threat of being run over.

I’ll be going dark for the next couple of weeks for spring break and relax time…. Tune in in May!


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Promising Blossoming of Spring Edition

While it is still a weekend ahead of the National Park Services’ already bumped-up peak bloom date, this weekend past was still a marvelous opportunity to stroll through Downtown DC and over to the Tidal Basin in order to see the famous Cherry Blossom Festival.

After meeting two friends from work and combating unusually heavy weekend Metro crowds, I found myself in Downtown DC. After grabbing lunch, we headed over the National Mall to the Tidal Basin. There we found about a quarter of the trees were already in full bloom, with the rest of the blossoms just shy of coming fully into the spring air.

We wandered around the Tidal Basin, taking pictures like mad the whole way. We found ourselves first at that far-flung Greek temple to our third president, the Jefferson Memorial. After spending some time there, reading his rather radical political beliefs, now immortalized in stately carvings, we headed to the FDR Memorial. I was happy to note that the Park Service had turned on the water, which is critical in feeling the memorial’s intended effect, reflecting Roosevelt’s lifelong love of the sea.

I was also interested and pleased to see that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial is under construction. We peeked through the high construction fences surrounding the sight, only to see very minimal work has been done to date. However, the location is a quiet and beautiful one and it seems we are moving towards the final arrival of a long awaited memorial.

Washington is a unique city, with a great many movers and shakers doing business within it’s boundaries on a daily basis. The city has so much to offer, and yet perhaps it’s most valuable offering is the fact that it often hosts 535 men and women representing every corner of the country. The city pulls together some of the most educated, most interesting people in the world. The city functions as a gigantic power center, and as a living museum, a monument to the American will. For any intelligent leader with a will to effect change, all these things should amount to more of a reason not to leave.

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Week 9

If the warmer weather and blooming cherry blossoms haven’t made it clear already, the fact that we’re almost completely through the month of March points to one thing: spring has officially sprung. I was home in NJ for the weekend, and although I was busy catching up with family and friends, I didn’t expect to miss D.C. while I was in New Jersey for only a few days, but I found myself comparing the two cities quite often. Although New Jersey is great, it can almost be a little too quirky for me; D.C., on the other hand, has a more professional feel to it. It’s also a lot easier to learn the area I could never picture myself living in anywhere else but New Jersey, but I’m slowly beginning to become attached to D.C. It’s probably not a good thing, seeing as how in a little over a month, I’ll be heading back home. But, it’ll definitely bring about more opportunities later on since I won’t be restricted to one city. I have been so tired lately – I think the 8:30-5:30 job is finally beginning to take its toll. Although I’m having the greatest time in D.C., homesickness is definitely not an unfamiliar sentiment. Despite all this, I’m still trying to take in as much of the experience here as I can. I planning on the cherry blossom festival in 2 weekends, and although the anticipated exhibit is beautiful, its probably a mistake to go during the festival’s opening weekend – it was complete insanity. As a New Jerseyian, I thought I was used to large groups of tourists, but the crowd at the festival that everyone is talking about is definitely going to prove me wrong.

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Shout out to: 433 Riva!! (Fr. Bishoy Way) BABY! AND Mena Gaballah

This is part three and four of the series that chronicles my four major tenets of my personal (non-academic) experience. The primary three new mantras are, “Do it, for you, because you want to,” say “I don’t know” when you really don’t and finally “don’t assume anything,” because I’ve learned that assuming anything about anyone or any topic is probably the number one error that many students, myself included, can make.

This entry clarifies the second tenet….saying “I don’t know” when you don’t.

Why is it so hard to just say, “I don’t know” when people ask you what you want to do in the future? It’s the question of questions that make us really want to crawl and hide when we’re not sure. 

However, we do know what we like. We know our dislikes. We still have dreams, but it seems they sometimes get lost between guidance counselors’ warnings, declaring a major and reading about salary outlooks and demand rates for various professional fields. Should I consider my standard of living when I’m contemplating further education? Do I think about my marketability first when I select a field, etc.? Well, my advice is this. Understand that you and your interests matter. You have to get up in the morning and go to work. There’s not much of it, so hopefully you’ll find a way to for your dreams and your livelihood fit to coexist in your career scheme.

You’re doing it. You’ve got interests. Your true interests matter despite the odds. Go for it whatever it may be. And if you still don’t know what “it” is, keep reflecting, soul-searching and adjusting your direction as you go along.

Finally, I’ve learned that assuming anything is probably the number one error that students can make. So the last is, “Don’t assume anything.”

My mom and friends were right when they said I wouldn’t know unless I tried. There are so many opportunities of which I could have taken advantage. I was sure that I’d enjoy the experience in DC, but I didn’t think that I’d become this completely new person taking back personalities, inspirations, and impressions that I will not forget from the “big” city.

Have a conviction and run towards it with open arms.

I challenge you.

As I sit here plugging things into my calendar that I have to do this month, I’m starting to realize that my time here is slowly winding down. We’re halfway through! I have a full month of DC livin’ under my belt (end of January + February) and a sizable dent in March started. Pretty soon, there’s only going to be April left and then I must depart my life that I have started here and pick back up in New Joezy. I decided to take the time out to rattle off a few things that I have learned since I’ve been here. I will likely add more to it towards the end of my program, since there is no doubt that I will have learned more.

1. Learn how to budget! It is ridiculous how expensive DC can be!!! Food here can be three times as expensive as back home…just because it’s in DC. Same food, same great taste, NOT the same price! Then there’s everybody’s favorite transportation system, the METRO! Since I work pretty far out from where I live, I pay close to $4 both ways (so almost $8) everyday just to get to and from work. CRAZY, right! I am still failing to realize the logic behind peak rates in which transit authority thinks it’s better to charge people more during rush hour, when realistically they would still be making more money during those hours if they didn’t increase the price because more people use it…DUH! I feel like maybe I should start a campaign to get the Metro prices lowered. I wonder would it work since I’m in DC and people seem to protest against everything else! Some people are lucky enough to either work at a place where they can just walk and not have to use the Metro, or have a job that pays for their Metro usage to and from work. Unfortunately, I am not one of those.

2. Get all the touristy things out of the way early. True, you are here for a whole semester through TWC and therefore have a whole semester to venture out to all the museums and monuments. But I think it’s best to get those things done early no matter which semester you are here for. If you’re here for the fall semester, I would think you would want to get them done early before it becomes too cold outside that you just don’t feel like going anywhere. But for me, I feel that it is important to get the touristy things out of the way in the spring semester because you want to be done before all the real tourists come to visit DC and go to all the attractions. There’s nothing like visiting a museum and being suddenly surprised by a large group of high school tourists! Not saying that there’s anything wrong with high schoolers, afterall I went to high school once, but it is so much easier to enjoy museums without them!

3. Get out and do things you have never done before. Although it’s not that big of a deal, the other night I went to an open mic night at Busboys and Poets. I’ve been to ones that my school has sponsored, but never a real one. It was really good though, everyone had a lot of talent. I’m thinking about going up one night and giving a piece that I wrote! I am really fascinated by the art of spoken word, and although I’m not great at it, I’ll never see these people again when I leave DC, so why not!!

4. Live outside of your comfort zone. That was what I was shooting for during my time here in DC. I wanted to be outside of my comfort zone as much as possible. You’re only in this program for a semester and if you live outside of your comfort zone while you’re here you can learn so much more than you ever could in four years of college.

5. Hone in on your passions. DC is a great place to find what it is your passionate about and get on a project that is focused in the same area. Like for me, my passions lie in the happenings of the Middle East. Just so happens this place is bustling with people who are likeminded and are just as passionate. It’s a great way to network and become more articulate in what it is you are passionate about.

6. Get a water filter!!! Water is important…VERY important. Funny thing I learned while being here. There are a ton of international students who participate in this program. One thing that several of them have told me that they were told when they were getting prepared to head out to DC was not to drink the tap water. I found that very interesting because the few times that I have been abroad, I was always told not to drink their water, I never thought that other countries would be telling them the same thing about ours! But it turns out, DC tap water is nasty. I’m not talking about in terms of taste, but in terms of substances in it. They even have an alcoholic beverage at most of the bars called DC Tap Water, so you know it can’t be good. One of my friends performed an “experiment” leaving DC tap water out for two days. Let’s just say, it was not a pretty sight. Those are just a few of the tips I have come up with so far. Stay tuned as I am sure more will come.

Events that occurred this weekend:

Friday Night: Mariana Diksies and Joyce Michael arrived to DC



Breakfast with the Ladies

Holocaust Museum,

National History Museum

The Washington Monument

US Capitol

My Crib

Chinatown Regal Cinema’s- JUST GO WITH IT! GREATTT MOVIE









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Two of Four

This is part two of a four part series that chronicles three major tenets of my personal (non-academic) experience. First, “Do it, for you, because you want to.” The second–I’ve learned it’s best to say, “I don’t know,” when referring to my future if I really don’t. Finally, I’ve learned that assuming anything is probably the number one error that students can make. So the last is, “Don’t assume anything.”

This entry clarifies the first tenet. “Do it, for you, because you want to.”

It was my initiative that got me to DC in the first place. I wanted to come here, and although I kept going back and forth about my purpose in doing so, I kept making headway to get here and now that I’ve been here, I have honestly enjoyed the experience. You can never underestimate your own personal interests for what others tell you what you should or need to do. to others, I “should” be doing thing x or seeing event z, but because I’ve followed my own preferences and listened to what I, Andrew Abdou, wanted to do, I began embarking on independence. Independence is not granted with just the degree, nor is it even the first career-oriented job. Independence has to be a state of mind.

Honestly, the tendency you’ll want to combat is to lie to yourself. Just stop it, it’s that easy. Follow your heart people, don’t ask questions


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One of Four

This is part one of a four part series that chronicles three major tenets of my personal (non-academic) experience

The experience in DC could have been mimicked anywhere else. TWC creates interesting courses, the program is organized and the opportunities to see the nation’s capital city were great additives. However, this was only part of the appeal. The only factor that resulted in making this experience special for me was my own initiative. I remember the first day, during the intern orientation. We were told that we should definitely only use our apartments for, well, sleeping.

I couldn’t agree more.

For me, this experience provided me a sense of mental silence from the very, very, emotionally loud environment that I, and most other twentysomethings, “hear.” We’re thrown in so many directions. “You should look into this,” and, “Oh, I know the perfect next step for you,” and oddly enough, “So, what are you going to do with that?!” if our majors don’t sound trade or career trajectory oriented. Students need the opportunity to hear themselves. If only this could be silenced so that the unsure, such as myself, can learn to listen to themselves.

I’ve never been completely alone in making any major decisions. This seems to be a recurring theme in my previous blogs, this lack of “adult” experience, but it’s because it’s true.

I’ve been protected.

Several of my friends hold outside jobs while in school. Thanks to scholarships, etc., this wasn’t a necessity exactly for me. I wanted this faux independent experience.

In DC, it has been a little different. I’ve had the late nights, late papers, neglected cell phone, Facebook, work and mental fatigue and moments when I just didn’t get time to finish things. I had to decide to either sleep or be sleepy when I needed to work. Working from 9-5:30 with evening classes once a week, and a million seminars,  it gets a little tough. I’ve never really experienced challenges when time use was a factor in the challenge if you exclude standardized testing. It has always been the issue of me procrastinating because I’ve had so much time between assignments that I’d rather do something the morning of so that it stays fresh on the mind. During this program, you have to do it now or else it’ll be a week late. It’s these sort of experiences, not to forget to mention the overnighters, that have allowed me a completely new perspective.

I’ve developed three new primary mantras. First, “Do it, for you, because you want to.” The second–I’ve learned it’s best to say, “I don’t know,” when referring to my future if I really don’t. Finally, I’ve learned that assuming anything is probably the number one error that students can make. So the last is, “Don’t assume anything.”

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Half way through!!

I cannot stress enough the importance of networking. For years I have been told that networking is a critical part of climbing up the social and professional ladder. Nowhere is the more true than in the nation’s capital. Since I have been in DC, I have learned first hand the importance of shaking hands and making connections (with the right people, of course). DC is a small city, which makes networking that more important—especially if you are hoping to land a job here afterwards. Plus, practice makes perfect. A strong network goes a long way. No matter where you want to end up, DC is a great place to start building your professional network. You never know when a friend in a Congress member’s office might come in handy. Moreover, it never hurts to have a ton of people in your address book; it makes you feel important. You should strive to be like the people in those Verizon commercial. Take it from them; having the one of the strongest networks is great thing.

As an added bonus, most of the prime networking events feature free food and drinks. So go practice your introduction, get your suits and business cards ready, and build up your network one Washingtonian at a time!

When I started TWC, I have had my fair share of amazing experiences. I had the opportunity to do things that many individuals only dream of doing. Just the other day, I was walking from my office, all of sudden, Henry Paulson shows up. For those of us who are not economics junkies, Henry Paulson is a former Secretary of The Treasury. The chance to speak to Henry Paulson, or any person in government, is an opportunity that so many people—especially those political junkies—would die for. However, while meeting government officials is pretty cool, the best people to meet are the folks in TWC.

No joke, the guys and gals in TWC are some of the most amazing people out there. Since I’ve been in DC, I have met people from all around the country with so many amazing life experiences. Coming from the Northeast, I never envisioned interacting with someone from Wyoming or Montana, yet alone, forming a legitimate friendship. Coming from the Northeast, I had no idea about life in the states between the Coasts; I couldn’t even tell you where Indiana was on a map. However, since I have been here, I have gained a whole new outlook on life. It is so interesting to hear the perspectives that individuals outside of NYC or LA have on life, and I feel that my conservations with folks from Arkansas or Texas have allowed to grow tremendously. Living with such a diverse group of people has helped me shatter many, if not all, of the views I had coming into the program. I just wish that some of these would move to Jersey, so that they can keep me from falling back into my old ways of thinking.

No matter what your interests may be, there are so many things to do in DC. Whether you are a political junkie, love to read, or are a straight-up “go getter”, DC is a great place to be. However, before you rush to join in on extracurricular activates, remember this: TWC work is extremely important!!

It is easy to forget while you’re working in such an amazing city that you are also a student. I sure know that I did forget this sometimes (or maybe a lot). It is important that while in DC you make the most of your time. Go and establish those connections, meet that interesting author on a subject that only you enjoy, but remember, as part of TWC you must wear two hats. It is so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and forget about your obligations (i.e. portfolio, journals, etc.). So make sure that you devote ample time to getting these things out of the way.

The most important part to completing everything to manage your time effectively.

Here are a few tips that might help.

1. Make a work schedule—and stick to it. Designate particular days as “TWC work days.” Does not have to be an entire day; it could be just two hours three times during the week. However, do not designate days that you know you will likely go out (i.e. no Friday or Saturday nights).

2. Do work with your roommates. It is more enjoyable to work together—at least for me—than it is to work by yourself sometimes. Plus, seeing other people doing work may be just the right motivation.

3. Start EARLY!!! I cannot stress this point enough. Although the work is not that difficult, it is rather time consuming. Attack each assignment as soon as you get it and, before you know it, you will be done.

As far as what I did over the weekend, it was probably one of the greatest weekends since I got down here…

On Saturday, my sweet tooth was going wild!! So my neighbors, and friends from TWC and I went to Coco Sala, a chocolate boutique here in DC. It was probably the best chocolate I have ever tasted in my life. I got the “Onyx” which consists of dark chocolate mousse / vanilla crème brulee salted caramel / crispy pearls / brownie. After indulging on such a great desert, we headed to the National Archives to tour. The line was unnecessarily long. As much as I appreciate the fact that the original Constitution, and Declaration of Independence and all these great documents are still intact, waiting for 45 minutes was just not worth it to me. Lol Sorry America.

On Sunday, another group of friends and I headed over to the Washington Monument to view the nation’s capital from 500ft in the air. Great sight!! Gotta admit its so beautiful seeing all the buildings that our government operates out of all at the same time. After coming down in the 70-second elevator ride, we hit the National Mall area for some two-hand touch football in some great 70 degree weather. Great game, great group of people, great weather. Couldn’t ask for a better weekend.

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Week 6

Hey All!!!

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 District

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!!

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