From State Capitol to Nation’s Capitol

The summer of 2010 was my first trip to Washington D.C. I had just finished eighth grade, and my friends and I were excited to have the opportunity to travel without parents. My second trip to Washington D.C. was with my parents, and it was only a two day visit. Coming back during the summer of 2017 has been a different experience all together. It dispelled many of the impressions that I had from my first adventures in our nation’s capitol. I do not remember the fast-paced culture, food, and simply the enormity of the city. My “first,” but really third, impressions of the city were the ethnic diversity, the immense amount of young professionals, and the sense of community.

Ethnic Diversity: I have driven past German, Russian, Afghani, Lebanese, and many more types of restaurants. Many people I have engaged with are not from the U.S. I hear different languages being spoken in the streets.

Young Professionals: The city feels young, and many of the people I meet, see on the Metro, or in restaurants are young interns.

Sense of Community: Many community events are free and occur regularly. The movies and yoga in the park, art walks, and food truck events make D.C. feel very different from Phoenix, Arizona.

I remember D.C. feeling smaller in proximity, and frankly, very touristy. Although it is still touristy during this time of the year, I have been able to soak in the grandiosity of this city. At first I thought nine weeks was going to be too long, and that I would get homesick. Now, I feel as if eight weeks won’t be enough time. I am looking forward to all the opportunity that Washington D.C. has to offer. Whether that be networking with people in different professions, or meeting other interns who are in the same position as myself. I am excited to learn and experience a new level of government.

On day one, the Capital Scholars all woke up early and left for the Metro by 7:45 AM to celebrate Memorial Day. We headed to the Tomb of the Unknown Solider and saw President Trump speak. Hearing him speak about those who have given the ultimate sacrifice gave me a new perspective on what Memorial Day truly represents. Memorial Day was normally a day that we had off of school, sometimes we would go to a family friend’s BBQ and perhaps sit by the pool. Even though my father served during the Vietnam War, Memorial Day was never heavily emphasized. Hearing the stories of our fallen soldiers was moving, and seeing their family members in the crowd was even more impactful. After exploring the rest of Arlington, we saw the wreath laying ceremony. For me, it was a day of contemplation.

For good or for worse, I was in charge of our first formal day of the program. We met with Senator Flake’s office and toured the Kennedy Center. Mapping out the Metro system was actually a bit stressful, especially with my lack of an internal compass. We managed to have a successful day and I appreciated learning about the impact of the Kennedy Center. The rest of the week was fun, especially having the opportunity to get to know the rest of the Capital Scholars. One of the highlights of the week was going to the Supreme Court, which is something that I had never done in my two previous visits to Washington D.C. Embarrassingly, I did not realize how unfamiliar I was with Supreme Court proceedings. It was somewhat nostalgic to walk in the majestic building and see the courtroom that has been used for years. Law school has always been a goal of mine, and touring the Supreme Court re-sparked my desire to pursue a career in law. Our last day of the week was our tour of Annapolis. I appreciated visiting the historic town, touring William Paca’s house and exploring the Naval Academy. Touring their state legislature was a blast from the past, and their history is deeply connected to the foundation of our nation.

Last semester, I was fortunate to participate in the AZ Legislative Internship Program where I worked in the Governor’s office under the Director of Legislative Affairs. State level government was fascinating to me because it is comprised of a small community of passionate individuals. The lobbyists are well respected because they hold the institutional knowledge of the state legislature, especially since many of them have been around a lot longer than the elected officials themselves. I am excited to see if I have the same impressions that I had with state level government at the Federal level. I think working in a lobbying firm will open my eyes to more of the behind-the-scenes. I look forward to meeting people and expanding my network, I also look forward to learning how to be a “Washingtonian.” This city has it’s own culture and there is much to experience. We all learned the hard way to stand on the right and walk on the left on the escalators, I am sure there is much more to learn while we are here.

I have realized that my mother was right (but when is she ever wrong?), and I need to start journaling my daily adventures, even if it is only one sentence. I don’t want to forget the little details, the funny comments, or ideas that pop up throughout my two months here. I regret not doing that during my first week, so it is my goal to be diligent. After reflecting on the first week, I realized that it is great to have friends while experiencing this all. Being with this community of students—who are all interested in growing as individuals—is what makes this program unique. It would not have been the same experience if I did this alone.

Overall, here are the three things that I have learned thus far: behind the fancy titles and nice clothing are all very casual individuals. 2) Many people have said that going to law school is a waste. 3) “You are all here during a very interesting time.”

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