Monday, April 16, 2018

Partaking in History

On March 24, 2018, I had the opportunity to attend the March for Our Lives here in Washington, D.C. with a few of my friends who were in town for the weekend. This was the first march I’ve ever participated in (I was unable to attend the Women’s March, sadly) and it was a truly incredible experience. Washington, as everyone says, is "where it happens." It was great to be in the center of it all and witness history being made. As a strong believer in grassroots organization, it was amazing to see so many people come together for a common cause.

The above photo is my friends and me during the march. All of us have differing viewpoints when it comes to politics (we have a libertarian and republican in the group!), but we agree that enough is enough-- it's time to take action against gun violence. It's a great reminder that you don't have to agree with someone all the time to make progress. It's important to find common ground on issues and make progress in the areas you can work on together.

I was in awe that students younger than me were able to pull off such an event. It was so impressive that these survivors rallied so hard for a cause they believe in. Despite all the hardships they faced, they persevered. Their speeches were well thought out and impactful, and I felt incredibly proud of them and the rest of my generation. If we are the leaders of tomorrow, I believe we have much to be hopeful for.

Finally, the march was an indicator of the power of grassroots organization, but it was also a reminder of how much work we still have to do. Despite all of the coverage the march got and all the conversation that it generated, there still hasn't been comprehensive reform. This is incredibly disappointing, but not surprising. The government works slowly, but it is encouraging to see private companies taking a stand against gun violence. Now, we just have to keep the conversation going.

Kyndal Sowers, WAIP Spring '18


Sunday, April 15, 2018

How to Feed Your Inner Bookworm on a Budget

Abeeha Shamshad

When you're young, unpaid, and in a new city, it isn't exactly hard to find ways to spend money you might not even have. So what do you do when the catch a literary cold, or your childhood love for books makes a fierce comeback? You've been saving up Ohio-style, but now you're living among East Coast inflation. Before we jump in, I'd like to say that anthologies are amazing for those of us with tight schedules. They're engaging without being time consuming! So, when it comes to acquiring books, here are just a few of your options -

  1. Shocker - the library! I know, so obvious. This one might be hard if you can't bring any documents in to validate your address - but prior to validation you do get a 30-day temporary card, so if you're really itching for a cliffhanger, you've got time to read and find those documents!
  2. Bookstores! These can actually be fairly expensive, so it comes down to your priorities. I like to think that I have great impulse control, but then I see a science fiction anthology... and a book about why love is terrible... and another anthology about racism in America. That's what happened to me last night at Kramerbooks, which has great hours for those of us who work all day! I also highly recommend Capitol Hill Books has a vast collection of secondhand books ranging from classic to eccentric (often both). Politics & Prose offers amazing events and updates their selection almost daily! 
  3. Borrow books from friends! DC loves its mini libraries, especially in zipcodes like those of the WAIP house. See a small birdhouse-looking structure with books inside? Those are for you to borrow, and it is generally suggested that you donate a book to their collection as well. Your co-interns, colleagues, fellow WAIPers, are likely to have a few books they're willing to lend you too!

So as I sit down to somehow read Dear Madam President and Machine Learning while wrapping up my research paper, I leave you with this: don't be afraid to have free time or me time in DC. Sure, this may be the first and last time you're in DC, but that doesn't mean you have to put your life or wellness on hold. 

Friday, April 13, 2018

Thoughts on D.C. as I depart

D.C is a transient place, as many say. And it certainly is.

I found every part of the transience of this place to be appealing to me. I discovered that I like places where there are a lot of changes happening, be it the political environment or the constant relocation of people. The transience also allowed me to connect with people who I would not have met otherwise. D.C's environment has encouraged me to expand my network by meeting new people.

As a departure note on D.C, I definitely see the potentials of this place being my home for the next few years. I like the environment, the people and certainly the opportunities that are present here specific to my professional area of interest. I would not have been able to explore D.C. or come to such realizations had I not joined this program. For anyone who is considering to join WAIP, this opportunity will give you the chance to explore a new location among gaining professional development and work experience. I would encourage you to go for it!


FYI, spring in D.C. is absolutely stunning!

 A Comprehensive Ranking of Every Building in Washington D.C.

I have decided to spend my second and last post rating various buildings I have encountered in Washington instead of adding anything substantive to the blog so here it goes.

The Capitol: 8/10 (1/10 for the 115th Congress)
            I work here so it certainly gets points for that, along with having a fantastic statue of America’s greatest president, James Garfield. Also points for the time VP Pence introduced himself to a tour group. Points off for the embarrassing number of times I have gotten lost in the basement.

The Supreme Court: 6/10
            I have not been inside so no points there but big points for heavy Greco-Roman architecture and the fact RBG is 85 and still works out.

The East Wing of the National Gallery of Art: 10/10
Perfect score because the building is both modern and expressive but in pretentious way. Also points for the Rothko collection worth more than the GDP of a small country. If you have not been yet, definitely worth the effort this weekend.

The Russian Federation Embassy: 3/10
            I also have not been inside this building either but as I was peering through the gate one time, a car pulled up stared me down, so I am pretty sure I am on some kind of list now. Points because of the cool 1980s architecture but the Kremlin needs to stop poisoning people.

Meridian Park: 9/10
            Okay, this obviously is not a building, but the architecture is really neat and the incredible number of cute pups there at any one time warrants a spot.

Department of State Truman Building: 7/10
The building looks ugly on the outside honestly, but if there is one thing I learned in middle school, it is that what is on the inside that matters. American diplomacy is critical to fostering a respect for human rights and the rule of law abroad so points there and also working for the State Department is my dream job, so I have to throw a few points their way for that.

The National Archives: 1776/10
Finally, I felt it was a proper final submission to include the building containing 4 of the most influential documents in the history of the world (Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Magna Carta). Points for the greatness of American values and their effect on the world, and I actually got goosebumps the first time I was in the Rotunda. Also, an immeasurable number of points for the impeccable filmmaking of National Treasure and the high probability Nicolas Cage is living somewhere in the depths of the Archives.

            It has been a pleasure getting to know you all over the semester and I have a feeling every one of us is going to go on to do remarkable things.

Ryan Kurz, WAIPer Spring 2018

Past the Politics

DC is so unique because it is not a state, but in some ways operates like one, and is nothing near a small town, but often feels like one. People often say DC is a bubble, either too elite, too political, and too privileged, which is extremely important to be mindful of but not always entirely accurate. It is easy to be consumed by your job, especially if it is political as mine was, but DC is still, at its core, a city. Some people live there whole lives here, sometimes completely detached from politics. The perspective of knowing that not everything revolves around Trump or Capitol Hill was almost relieving to me, but it’s overwhelming to think of how easy it is for me to forget.

This was one of the best things I learned in WAIP as I tried to navigate stressful situations, an internship on the Hill, and class. Although I was not able to afford to pick up my old, non-political hobbies such as tennis and ceramics, I made a conscious effort to have normal experiences to preserve my own sanity and practice self care. I took myself to the movies, concerts, the grocery store and Alexandria, parks, and other “normal” places on a consistent basis. As much as I love my job and living in DC, I realized early on that it can be overwhelming and desensitizing to be around politics and political people all of the time. Sometimes I needed a few hours of a break, and catching a Demi Lovato or Lorde concert, or driving around a suburban neighborhood and shopping at a one level grocery store did the trick. Of course, it was extremely convenient that everything I wanted to do was within the greater DC area, and I did not ever have to go far. I ultimately would not trade being steps away from the March for Our Lives, visiting NPR headquarters, or working in Congress for anything in the world, but it was important for me to know my limits, take a step away from the United States Capital, and just enjoy living in a big city.
Mikayla Lee

Grandma in Washington DC!

**If you only read the first sentence of this blog post, please do yourself a favor and scroll down to the photo of my grandmother looking at flowers in the U.S. Botanic Gardens**

Hello All! This semester my family traveled to Washington, D.C. to spend Easter weekend with me. I was overjoyed to see my parents and sisters, but I was especially excited to have my grandmother in DC with me! She is 76 years old and hadn’t been to Washington, DC since her senior year of high school! In the weeks leading up to her visit I routinely called her to plan the itinerary and she was always so excited. After 8 long hours in the car, my family arrived Friday afternoon and we headed to Georgetown for dinner. We enjoyed enormous portions of Italian food in a restaurant with the most Easter decorations I have ever seen in my life. Saturday we spent all day on a Double Decker Big Bus Tour and had an absolute blast. Despite her limited mobility, my grandma was able to see the Lincoln Memorial, Korean War Memorial, and the National Museum of American History. I was so happy to see how much my grandma enjoyed the museum and hear her reminisce about popular culture artifacts from her childhood. On Easter Sunday we attended mass and then headed to brunch at Café Belga where we enjoyed sweet and savory Belgian waffles. The grand finale of the amazing weekend was a visit to the U.S. Botanic Gardens where the photo attached below was taken. My grandma may have slightly embarrassed us with her shutter on full volume as she took photos of every species of orchid in the gardens, but it was clear how much she enjoyed it so we just went with it! It was a weekend I will truly never forget and I look forward to reliving the memories for years to come!

Screensavers and News Articles

It was late March and I had been invited to an opera at the Russian Embassy.
I had no interest in opera and Had gone for the free food and refreshments
provided at the event. During my time in Dc, US and Russian relations were
at an low in comparison to where they had been the rest of my life but I did
not understand the significance of my visit to the embassy. A week later the
President had announced the expulsion of 48 Russian agents at that same
embassy I went to see an oprah at. I came to the realization my time In the
program I have experienced one large breaking news article. From the
government shutdown, to the expulsion of Russian Embassy agents,
impending war with Syria, and (as I currently type this blog) Mark Zuckerberg
testifying to the House of Representatives in the building next to where I work.

I started tradition on days that I have no postwork events in which I go to the
top of Capitol at the official sunset time for DC, listen to music, take a picture
of the sunset, and reflect on my time here. In my first ‘reflection’ I came to
realize along with the absolute chaos occurring around us interns in what is
2018, we also live in a next to what many people would leave as their
screensaver. Everyday I am blessed with the opportunity to walk past
the Capitol Building and the accompanying monuments. I will never forget or
downplay this opportunity I have been blessed with.

Life Lessons from WAIP

Enjoying one of the coolest perks of WAIP - Pictures on the Speaker's Balcony after a Capitol tour!
As much as people will repeatedly tell you, it is CRAZY to think that my time in WAIP. is almost up! This has been the fastest semester in college yet and it still feels like we just got here the other week. Realizing that we will be moving out next weekend, the past few days have been incredibly reflective and really forced me to think about the biggest takeaways from this program. WAIP forces you to grow up, both professionally and personally, as you get a taste of what adulthood looks like after Ohio State. Although you likely won’t notice it happening in the moment, you will walk away from this experience as an enhanced version of yourself. These past few months have given me long-lasting friendships, incredible opportunities, and memories that I will cherish for years to come. Here are some of the important takeaways that I want everyone to know who is considering this program:
  • You don’t have to have it all figured out! Sometimes there is a misconception that you have to come to D.C. and know exactly what area of public policy you want to work in and how you are going to get there, but that is not the case. Every internship and opportunity helps you grow as a person and the odds of you sticking to the exact career plan you intend are slim! You never know what will present itself to you and going in with an open mind makes all the difference.
  • A fulfilling WAIP experience means something unique for everyone! It is easy to compare yourself to what other people are doing and how they are doing it, but that makes it difficult for you to worry about what is best for yourself.
  • Lastly, this program really provides you the opportunity to decide if you can see yourself moving here for the long-term. Some people come to D.C. and decide that it is not right for them, which is totally fine! As a senior, I was preparing to up and move to Washington right after graduating with plans to just figure it out as I go. I’m lucky to have gotten a few months here to get the hang of it and decide if living here is something I would want to do permanently (I’ve decided I absolutely do).

Regardless of what your big takeaways are, it is almost impossible to leave WAIP without bettering yourself and growing as a person. For that, I am incredibly grateful for my time here and cannot wait to see where this takes me!

Why D.C?

Why D.C.?

One of the biggest questions that I have struggled with this semester is "Is D.C. for me?" I continue to ask myself this question but I become more and more in love with the city every day. D.C. is the center of it all. You notice at some point while living in D.C. is the fact that you are living in a city that makes history happen. The white house, government, and politics take over the city and infest its inhabitants with its historical culture and its fast-paced lifestyle. This is the city of opportunities and those who live here understand the importance of looking forward to making a change for the better future. One of the biggest misconceptions of D.C. is the average age of those who live here. To my surprise this city is alive with youthful energy that encourages change and those who live here want to make a mark on the city. Whether you are working in the private or public sector many of the jobs in D.C. focus on making an impact on people's lives. My absolute favorite aspect about living in D.C. is the multicultural aspect of having different parts of the city dedicated to different cultures which is so refreshing to know that diversity is important. All in all, the city encourages those who come to prosper and to look forward to the future.