Sunday, November 17, 2013

It's been a while...

I apologize for not having blogged in a while, but things have gotten very busy! At the end of October I travelled to Indianapolis for the weekend to attend a fraternity board meeting for Lambda Chi Alpha. There, I was elected as chairman of the Student Advisory Committee. Politically, things remain very interesting here on the Hill with the less-than-smooth rollout of Obamacare. If there ever has been a time to be interning in the Capitol, this would be it. It is very cool being here during a time that (for better or worse) will be written about in the history books.

A few weeks ago, my classmates and I took a trip to the home of Thomas Jefferson: Monticello. The trip proved to be very educational and the scenery was amazing. I have yet to visit the Smithsonian museums, so I still have plenty to see in the city!

With only a few short weeks left in DC, I am going to have to budget my time very carefully so I can still see all the things I want to see while finishing all the schoolwork that needs to be done. I still have a few books to read and many reports and essays due at the end of the semester. Time has FLOWN by!!

I am all registered for my classes for the spring semester, and while I do enjoy it here in DC I am very much looking forward to getting back to Coe.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Great Day and an Eventful Weekend

This past Friday I flew home and surprised my family. My mom had no idea I was coming home. My Grandpa Dale picked me up from O'Hare after leaving from Reagan National airport and having a layover in Detroit. After he picked me up, we went out for breakfast and then he took me to the DMV to get my 21 horizontal ID which was a pretty big deal for me. Later in the afternoon we went to Cousin Jennifer's house to surprise my mom. Many family members came over and we had a pretty good time!

Saturday I spent the day/evening with my dad, stepmom, and sisters. We went out for dinner with more of our family and it was nice seeing everyone since I will not be home until the middle of December.

I flew back to my DC home Sunday afternoon and relaxed after I got back.

This morning at 9am I got in line in order to view oral arguments take place at 1pm at the Supreme Court for the case Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action. This could become a landmark case depending on how the justices rule. After taking a SCOTUS class last semester, being there in the room and listening to oral arguments take place was definitely an experience I will not forget.

Supreme Court Building from in line at 9am

Thursday, October 3, 2013

An interesting week on The Hill

As I'm sure most of you had heard, there was an incident this afternoon on Capitol Hill. Apparently, a women in an Infiniti coup with a child in the car bumped or ran into a White House barricade of some sort. After this, there was a chase that led to the Capitol Hill area (where I both work and live) and shots were fired.

I was in the congressional office where I intern at the time and we were all told to lock the doors and stay away from windows as shots were fired from either inside or immediately outside the Capitol. During the lockdown, we didn't have all the details and from all we knew there was a gunman on the loose around the Capitol complex - the reason for the lockdown.

On my walk home, many streets were blocked off and interrupted my normal route home. There were many reporters and TV stations surrounding the area and it turns out, the chase concluded only 2 blocks from our house. A student living here said she could hear the shots from the apartment.

Between the Syria debate in Congress, the Navy Yard shooting a few weeks ago, the government shutdown that we are still dealing with, and the event this afternoon, it has proved to be a very interesting time in Washington.

Despite the shutdown, because I am an unpaid intern, I still go into the office. This ends up working well for me because not only do I maintain my internship credit hours, I am able to see a lot of the happenings in Congress right now firsthand - despite the ridiculous inability to compromise.

With the debt ceiling issue coming up fast as well, I am wondering whether or not I am bad luck to Washington... the jury is still out on that one.

Regardless of the very unfortunate circumstances in the Capitol lately, I am glad I am able to be here during such a historic - albeit controversial - time.

Monday, September 23, 2013

A busy weekend!

Since my last post, I have been very busy! Last week my life consisted of working and homework. I have been hanging out with a lot of people here in the program and have become friends with most of them - there are some pretty cool people.

Friday evening (September 20), our program director and everyone in the house/program went to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to see Cirque de la Symphonie - a National Symphony Orchestra pops concert paired with acrobatic and circus acts in the vein of Cirque du Soleil. The talent of these people is amazing, and the music was phenomenal. Watching the one of the best orchestras in the world perform at one of the most well-known venues was a very cool experience. Below are some pictures from that evening.

Saturday I went to see Insidious 2 at one of the theaters in town with a few of my friends in the house. After that, I went to the H Street festival which was essentially a massive street dance 15 blocks long with food tents and music. I met my friend from the office there along with some of her friends from her dormitory she's staying in. Yesterday was a pretty lazy day filled with naps and snacking. Today I was able to get some reading done after work for my Middle Eastern politics class.

The discussion this week here in Washington is whether or not Congress will be able to compromise on funding the federal government and averting a government shutdown. If Congress does not come up with a deal, the government will shit down next Tuesday, October 1st. The House passed a continuing resolution (CR) bill Friday the 20th that would continue previous levels of federal funding while defunding Obamacare. The Senate and Harry Reid have made clear that this funding option is dead on arrival. So, most likely the Senate will strip the provision defunding Obamacare and send the clean CR bill back to the House to be voted on again. We will see what happens in the next few days.... It's a very interesting time to be in Washington, that's for sure!

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more updates! :)

The view from the Kennedy Center Terrace. 
Washington Monument on the Left Lincoln Memorial on the right

The inside of the Kennedy Center Concert Hall

Morgan, Meg, Me, Hannah, Bri, and Cassandra before the show.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Thoughts on Exceptionalism and Patriotism

I know I haven't blogged for a while - I've been sick the past few days with a nasty sore throat bug. Anyway... here's my post.

On my run this evening, this is what I saw. In light of today's tragedy and horrible loss of life just a mile away from where this picture was taken, I was struck with an enormous sense of pride and patriotism for this amazing country. From handful of people, and a few ideas, came this great country - the greatest on the planet. True, we may not all agree on everything; true, mistakes have been made and will continue to be made; true, there will be some bumps in the road in the coming months and years, but we are Americans. We will - together - endure, thrive, and continue to discuss, debate, and revolutionize, as we always have since a few men with an idea met over 230 years ago.

Call me traditional, old fashioned, naïve, ethnocentric, etc..., but I believe in American Exceptionalism. America is exceptional. Together, we can weather through the problems that plague our age, and together, we can grow and improve (through necessary debate - let's be realistic) to meet new challenges. Why improve if we're already exceptional? Because we are exceptional, and we don't settle.

Because of that, I love America, and I'm proud to live in this amazing country.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Diving right in!

As many of you I'm sure have heard, the House and Senate have had their own Foreign Affairs hearings regarding military strikes in Syria. This has made it a very interesting and busy few days on the Hill, and especially busy working in a Congressional office. I am so amazed and thankful I am able to see this debate unfolding virtually right around me. It is both humbling and enlightening to hear so many Americans' opinions on this issue - and others - as they participate in the democratic process.

Last night was my first evening of my Middle Eastern Politics class, and it will definitely be tough, but it couldn't be a more appropriate topic given the current events. The professor is very laid back, and is very knowledgable about the issue - he works for the government in some foreign policy capacity (he won't specify, but it does have something to do with national security, the State Department, and/or the Department of Defense).

This evening, I went on my second run here in the Capitol. I ran about 4.5 miles and got some amazing pictures. I am still awestruck at the fact that on my run, I pass the Supreme Court building, the Library of Congress, the Capitol, the Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Memorial - not to mention all the Smithsonian museums I pass. Here's a few pretty good pictures I took this morning and on my run:

 Supreme Court Building

 Capitol on my morning commute

Reflecting Pool and Lincoln Memorial 

Washington Monument being restored 

The Capitol at Dusk

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Internship - Day 1

Today was my first day interning for my Congressman from Illinois, Rep. Adam Kinzinger! I was nervous about being able to find his office, so I left about 30 minutes early. Oh well... better to be early the first day than late! I am very much looking forward to learning more about the office and my job as a Congressional Intern. Everyone at the office is very helpful and polite, so I'm happy for that. Since one of my duties as an intern entails guiding constituents on tours, I have to learn the layout and facts/history about the Capitol building. Because of that, I tagged along on a tour one of the other interns gave. This was my first time going through the Capitol as well, so the other intern was giving me a few pointers along the way.

While I know DC and the Capitol has a lot of history, it still amazes me that I am working and living where so many important historical events took place. It's one thing to read about it in a book, but it's another thing to be standing in the room where those things happened. For me, it helps to put things into perspective and I feel an enormous sense of pride in our country.

As I was leaving work, I realized I didn't have my keys to my apartment! I started freaking out a little.... Then, I remembered I helped the Deputy Chief of Staff for Congressman Kinzinger bring in water. Since we had to walk back into the office building once we got the water, we had to go through a security checkpoint and that's where I left them. I rushed to the back entrance where we had entered, and I asked the Capitol policeman standing guard if they had seen the keys. After giving me a bit of a hard time (some of them actually do have a sense of humor), he said he had them. Whew!

After arriving back to the apartment, I got changed and went on my first run! It was great. I am definitely going to be making a habit out of it. It wasn't the fastest of runs, but I did go 2.5 miles after not running for a week and a half. During my run, I did realize why Capitol Hill is called Capitol Hill.

Check out these pictures from the past few days' adventures!

 Arlington National Cemetery

 Changing of the Guard

 Chinatown Arch

 Lincoln Memorial

 Reflecting Pool, Washington Monument, Capitol Building