Flying in late Sunday evening to Reagan National Airport, I did not know what to expect. A journey unlike any other I have taken. A fight full of whimsy and wonder. And yet, here we are. Looking out my plane window, the city sparkling and the monuments lit up like the star atop a Christmas tree, the first thing that cultivated my attention was the Washington Monument. With the marble reflecting the light back to my window, it hits me that—truly—I am in the Nation’s Capital, and the questions of the unknown hit me like a train—the Metro perhaps. Bags in hand, knots in stomach, I stood waiting for my ride to pick me up. For, it is here, where I began to notice the contagious electricity that pulses through this city’s veins, and it hit me, “I was home”.
Washington, DC is everything I expected it would be and then some. The monuments are ever-so inspiring and humbling. Being able to experience them in person, and—quite literally—makes my once civics book’s pages come to life, but this time with an additional character in them, me. The town is a city with a pompous charm that you just are too intrigued to stay away from; even though you know it can chew-you-up and spit-you-out in a heartbeat. It is the forever struggle game of policy making and strife that makes me want to live here, and assures me that I made the right choice. There is always a place for an individual in DC, but it is up to you if that place is 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, or rather, the banks of the Potomac. This idea of self-determination that is riddled through the city has and continues to impress/inspire me every day.
With this summer being very influential in my political path—either work on the state or federal level—I hope—the most—to get my questions answered. Having done policy wok on the state level, I am going into my internship with the prior knowledge of legislation and bill passage—a little more in-depth than Schoolhouse Rocks’, “I’m Just a Bill”. I look forward to being able to compare the two processes. With my ultimate goal of wanting to affect and help as many civilians as I personally can—through governmental work—I look forward to learning where I can make the biggest impact. In continuum, with my state-level experience coming from a non-partisan firm, I am interested in seeing how the tactics—similar or different—are enacted to affect legislation on CAP’s partisan outlook. More importantly, learning how a Democratic organization can compromise and help shape legislation with a government held in Republican control; without losing their priorities and/or being on the defense for the next four years.
Outside of my work, learning aspirations and goals, the most pressing item I look forward to is starting—and growing—my own social network and Rolodex. The opportunity to make lasting relationships—both personal and professional—with strangers, who all share the ultimate goal of success is inspiring. Having only been here a little over a week, I have already established several professional relationships with active members in the constantly changing DC environment, along with some of the most genuine personal ones as well. In reference to personal relationships—with other Capital Scholar’s—this is the first time that I have ever been surrounded by– day-in-and-day-out–other policy-wonks and government enthusiasts. Because of this, I personally have grown—yes I know, “it has been a week”—with regards to addressing my opposing beliefs and letting others have a seat-at-the-table. I have always stressed compromise and compassion in my work, however, this is the first time where pointing-the-finger and pushing blame on the other party is not admissible. It is easy to state your opinion on issues when you are only surrounded with like-minds, when you become the minority, the approach and rhetoric change dramatically. Although different, this has allowed me to listen and reflect on my friends—other Capital Scholar’s—views and beliefs. In continuum, being surrounded by individuals who can answer the “why” questions; Why do you believe this?; Why is that the wrong approach?; etc., has made political discussion and debate expand my partisan bubble and have genuine—non-confrontational and respectful—conversation and debate. I look forward to honing in these personal skills along with continuing to strengthen the relationships that I have already made with my fellow Sun Devils.
When I reflect on the previous week, there are two—very pressing—and foundational personality traits that I learned to tweak. The first—as condemnatory as it may be to my overall being—is to not pass judgment on individuals when first meeting them. However hypercritical or not, everyone frames new individuals upon first contact; in positive or negative connotations. Prior to this provoking trip, I have relied on my initial judgments to shape the friendships and relationships I have today. Within a second I used to think that I could determine whether a person is favorable—to pursue them—or not. This closed-minded approach is no longer the case. Having had a variety of first impressions with fellow members and active members, being forced to get to know one-another—regardless if one wants to or not—has proven that friendship is not found until you fully hear and understand the other’s story. It is here where you are given insight into why a person is one way or the other; questions you can’t mentally answer to yourself simply based on external perceptions. Truly, you get to know them. Gone are the glitz and glamor of the ideal/hegemonic individual they want you to perceive them as, and you are left with a genuine being.
Lastly, one key trait that I have learned throughout this whole process—especially during this past week—is to be patient. Having difficulty finding an internship, I left Arizona with a sense of optimism and anxiety that I knew would only be filled if that void was sealed. After months of dead leads and communication channels, I finally found an outlet that was interested in me, as much as I was them. Looking back at what I thought was my ideal outlet, I can’t help but laugh. It is through this new appreciation for patience that I find myself overjoyed and eager to see what the future holds. With the phrase, “Patience is a virtue” being ever-so personified and embodied, I now go forward with the mindset that this process—as hellish and exhausting as it may have been—happened for a higher reason. The word, “Yes”, has never sounded so great.
I look forward to finding out what the pages to come read for my political, personal, and professional story. In closing, I can say one thing with certainty, the Capital Scholar’s Class of 2017 is ready to join the swamp and eager to be a pawn in the game we like to call, the United States’ Government.