Thank you to everyone who followed along with my blog this spring. Looking back I am grateful for all the things I was able to see, people I was able to meet and experiences I was able to have. As I returned to Oregon I was glad to be back in the comfort of rolling hills and peaceful forests, but started to miss some little things about DC. Of course. I absolutely will not miss the humidity.
Thank you to all you made this trip possible. Parents, friends, family, and colleagues, you have all been so supportive of development as a leader, thinker, and human being. I appreciate every one of you.
Well, the day has finally come though I never believed it would: my last day in the office!
In many senses it was just like any other day. I answered the phones, gave a tour, and did my other daily tasks, trying to forget that it would be the last time I would be doing many of these things I came to love. After finishing most of my projects for the day, I had a chance to take one last walk through the Capitol halls and was able to get in many of my tourist pics I usually only passed by on tours. As I was wandering through the cavernous tunnels and grandiose columns I still felt in shock that I was really in the place where history was made.
My friend asked me the other day, “Does that crazy feeling of being in the Capitol ever go away?” No, I don’t think it does, even when you know where your going and recognize many faces along the way, history always finds a way to prevail in a place that has seen so many important challenges and tribulations.
Interning in D.C. has truly been a wonderful and eye-opening experience. From navigating the city to truly participating in the policy process I enjoyed every minute of it. I am also very grateful to an engaging and supportive group of co-workers who constantly challenged me in my role to strive for excellence. I would not trade this quarter for the world.
As you might guess, Memorial Day brings many festivities in Washington DC. On Sunday was the nationally televised Memorial Day Concert on the Capitol lawn (which I didn’t attend because of bad weather) and on Monday there was the famous wreath-laying at Arlington Cemetery and the National Memorial Day Parade. Since the parade was literally down the street from me I couldn’t help but wander over and check it out.
We ended up finding the perfect spot along the street right behind the performance area. Not only did we see the parade participants walk right, but were able to see the (backside of) the musical guests as well! The parade consisted of MANY high school marching bands, but also tributes to every American-fought war from the Revolution to Desert Storm. For the historical displays, some people even dressed up like famous figures (George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, etc.)! Since this event was also live broadcast, I might have even been on TV for a split second!
I am very glad I could spend a Memorial Day in Washington DC. It was a day to remember and just seemed more relevant here for some reason.
Things wrap up this week and I will be headed back to Oregon on Sunday. I can hardly believe. Time flew by, but I also feel a certain connection to this place. Life has mysterious ways.
Well, the time has finally come when I can start counting down my days left in DC on one hand! Though I am surely in denial, I have even managed to start filling my suitcases again. As I was out and about I already started to miss the city bustling with tourists and politicos alike. Come this weekend there were still several items left on my “must-do” in DC list. I was able to knock out a few of them, including the National Portrait Gallery.
I truly think of the National Portrait Gallery as a hidden treasure Smithsonian. Off the beaten path, near Chinatown, it really is a gem of a museum. The building itself actually dates back to 1836, where it was the grand home of the US Patent Office. The Great Hall on the third floor hosted Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural and it was used as the Red Cross base of Clara Barton during the Civil War. The art it chiefly contains, American portraits, are simple, but classic. The Presidential exhibit features several of the classics (at least those not in the White House) and there is also a wealth of other traditional and modern American works.
Other items off the checklist included visiting the American Indian Museum (a nice air-conditioned break from the scorcher of a weekend) and having a famous “adult” milkshake at Ted’s Bulletin Restaurant. Most importantly I am grateful to have spent a final weekend with intern and TMH friends who have made my entire time worthwhile.
This is week marked a pretty big turning point for action on the hill: the summer interns have arrived. Because of the typical inconvenience of taking time off school to do an internship, many students decide to come out in the summer instead. While this is great in ensuring that there are extra hands on deck for the summer rush of tours and projects, it unfortunately is a pretty slow time for Congress. Especially during a campaign year, members spend most of July and August back in their home district. Nevertheless, the influx of fresh faces has put my own experience in perspective as I finish up my internship next week.
For all of you new hill interns, or those still thinking about whether or not to apply, here is a list of things I wish I would have known at the start of my internship.
Getting lost and asking for directions is not bad! The Capitol is huge and only now do I feel like I know my way around the House side. Capitol Police and others are always happy to point you the right way!
Mistakes will be made. Working in a high-level office demands a high level of precision and sometimes you’ve just got to learn by trial and error.
Connect with everyone! You never know when someone might pop back into your life so take advantage of interns and staffers from an assortment of backgrounds.
Go to everything. There is so much opportunity at the Capitol, so take advantage. I have been able to meet movie stars, activists, politicians and all sorts of movers and shakers at briefings and hearings.
Do what you enjoy and don’t get bored. Even when doing daily office tasks there is so much to absorb about policy, professionalism and U.S. politics. Never accept a dull moment!
Only one more week of work (and a short one because of the holiday) and I’m done! I can hardly believe it!
It’s May 22nd and somehow it has never really stopped raining here. I guess I should have anticipated a much different climate than back in Oregon, but I thought there would be a little bit of sunshine in the spring. Today I had planned to go out with a friend and run to Arlington Cemetery. It has just dawned on me in the past few days that I am only here for two more weeks and need to get to everything on my DC bucket list, so I decided to get two birds with one stone and combine exercise with tourism.
We were drenched by the time we got over the bridge from the Lincoln Memorial and to the entrance to Arlington. As we walked up the rolling hills my breath was taken away by
the endless sight of white marble headstones. The cemetery itself is over 600 acres, yet so much of the space is already taken up. Both sad and amazing. We followed the signs to one
of the important memorials, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Just as we arrived, three soldiers began a changing of the guard ceremony which we watched with the large gathered crowd. To be a tomb guard is one of the highest honors you can receive in the Army and is the second least awarded medal. We then wandered our way through dozens of hallowing memorials and the J.F.K. gravesite. We could have walked for hours longer, but the wind chill and aching muscles sent us running back towards DC.
Arlington truly was an honor to behold and I am glad I made the (wet) journey out there.
Yesterday I FINALLY went on a White House tour! Of course the only available time slot was 8:00am on a Saturday. Supposedly the White House is the number one requested tour in DC, and I’m not going to say it was a let-down, but having been there for an event a year and a half ago, not much has changed. On Saturday morning I got myself self up and out the door with my ticket and trusted Columbia rain jacket. Little did I know it was absolutely pouring outside. We (me and my other intern friend) waited outside security and exchanged an umbrella for several minutes before beginning the security process. They are certainly thorough (as you hope they would be) with the screening over there; you have to show your ID twice as well as be sniffed by dogs and walk through a metal detector.
When we got inside I stripped off my sopping jacket and we began our self-guided tour through the East Wing. Since the White House is obviously still often used for events and meetings, there were no plaque descriptions like an ordinary museum, they actually encourage you to ask the Secret Service standing guard any questions you may have about the space.
We were able to walk through the ornate Yellow, Green, Blue, and Red rooms, as well as the State Dining Room. What the two of us really wanted to see were the First Dogs, Bo and Sunny, but it being a rainy Saturday morning we figured they were still cuddling in bed with the First Family.