Monday, March 17, 2014

Eight Months in the Capitol

I have done a very poor job keeping up with this blog.  I think it is mainly out of laziness, however I will admit I cannot write unless I am inspired (I’m an artist dammit!). Today, we got snowed in again.  The weather here is a far cry from anything I’ve ever experienced.  I will admit I ready for Spring.  Despite the winter cold, D.C. has been a great city to live in.

This was taken this morning by the Huffington Post.  Why, God?

It is hard for me to put my finger on everything but D.C. is one of the most diverse cities in the United States.  With a population that is 50% black, I (and other Caucasians) am in the minority, which I can honestly say has been a breath of fresh air for me.  I come into contact with people who have had very different lives than I have, and yet I am able to find similarities and common ground with many of them.  Most of the people I’ve have gotten to know well have been those who have interned at World Vision.  The thing I love most about Washington D.C.  is that people come here from all over the world. 

I have a couple crazy stories about people I have met at the various free events I’ve attended (these events pretty much are my social life).  At one event at the Canadian embassy, I had the pleasure of chatting up a Turkish diplomat for around an hour.  Only in Washington D.C. could you bump into somebody like that.  I also have had the weirdest occurrences of meeting people who know a mutual friend from Westmont or Dallas.  It is indeed a very small world after all (Thanks Walt Disney!)

Washington D.C. is also extremely unique because it is a city of culture clash.  D.C. is where North meets the South and East meets the West.  This has nothing to do with geography; it is because of the population within the city.  Because it is the nation’s capitol, D.C. has people from every corner of the nation and every political ideology, culture, religion, and race.  This creates a city that is extremely diverse, but also (to the chagrin of the rest of the country) very divided.  However, most if not all of your politicians live outside the city.  In fact, if you run into somebody who is white and middle/upper class, you can bet they live outside D.C. as well.  This is because the public schools in Washington D.C. are extremely subpar.

Like virtually every major city in America, D.C.’s public school system is a mess.  This is exacerbated by the existence of many highly ranked private schools (that cost each around 40 grand a year).  So those who can afford them, go to them leaving the public schools to fend for themselves.  The middle class moves outside the city and goes to public schools in Northern Virginia or Bethesda.  That being said, a lot of public school management and teaching innovations are being developed in the public schools in D.C. 

This was taken back in October when the weather was still great.

As for my own experience, World Vision could not have been a better place to end up.  I am truly heartbroken that they don’t have the room or budget to hire me onto the advocacy team.  Non-Profit problems.  The advocacy team here does a lot of great work.  They are responsible for engaging the U.S. government (both the bureaucracy and politicians) on matters of international aid, development, health, agriculture, human trafficking, and disaster relief.  Last week we spent two days holding a conference on global access to water sanitation and then met with many congressional offices to ask for support on a bill going through the House (H.R. 2901) that essentially will require USAID to spend its allotted funds on water and sanitation programs in the poorest countries in the world instead of middle income countries like Egypt and Iraq which already have extensive water infrastructure (this has been going on and WV wants the focus to be on the countries with greatest need).  The great thing about lobbying for issues like clean water is that nobody is against clean water for the poor and kids.  It is mainly just a matter of awareness and urgency.  I have learned a lot from my two internships at World Vision, and it will be hard to leave.  But, I am looking forward and am excited about the road ahead.  My plan is to intern on Capitol Hill this summer.  It doesn’t pay (story of my life in DC) but in order to have a career in foreign policy advocacy, one must begin on the Hill.  At least, that is what everyone is telling me.  So that is my plan, and I’m going for it. 

After eight months here I am having a hard time imagining myself anywhere else.  It doesn’t feel like a whole lot has happened, and I guess in the whole scheme of things compared to the changes of college, it hasn’t.  However, I feel like a completely different person than I was in September.  I have also been very surprised at who I’ve kept up with.  I have been able to talk to some people from Westmont that I didn’t think I would ever hear from again.  It is good to catch up and hear what is going on in other peoples lives, and for the most part everyone is doing well and going through life at their own paces.  Of course, as time goes on people will start to text and call less and less.  Then, before you know it we will start sending those god-awful Christmas cards to each other (though now that I think about it maybe we will settle with Facebook stalking). 

Anyways, I felt the urge to write this so I guess I will put this up on the ol’ blog.  I wish I had more pictures to put up but I’m sorry to say that without my personal photographers Eric Patterson and Shanan Lau I just don’t have the opportunity to capture the infamous moments of my life.  I’ve already started hanging out with people I meet with nice cameras so I can become friends with them, and I will once again be back to my spot as the envy of the Facebook world.

I took this the day I moved in.  My back was against the wall so this gives you a good idea of how small my room is.

I plan on putting up some stuff on Syria, the state of global development, and maybe even Ukraine though I feel like that one might be a dead horse.

1 comment:

  1. Great writing man, glad to hear from you. Gonna give you a call soon but maybe not until I finish getting logistics squared away for moving up north (I'll be there mid april). It's too bad Eric and I aren't around to photograph everything anymore for ya hahaha. Good old Westmont days when we'd do that for fun...