D.C.: Adventures Taken, Lessons Learned

Participating in the Capital Scholars program has been a very meaningful and education experience. In my eight weeks here in D.C., I have learned numerous valuable lessons.

If I could offer future students any advice from what I have learned during my first two weeks here in Washington DC it would be to always bring blister bandaids with you wherever you go, especially during your first week. Walking ten miles in sneakers is apparently very different than walking .5 miles in short heels. Also, always carry a collapsible umbrella with you as it rains here unexpectedly, despite whatever the local news says.

I have learned a great deal regarding public policy advocacy. When I first began my internship at the National Women’s Health Network, a non-profit Women’s Health advocacy organization, I noticed a great deal of effort was focused on attending rallies and voicing our opinions to other organizations, congress, and the public. I had never attended a rally before, nor had I fully understood how they helped influence political change. Today, I can honestly say that my opinion has changed and I now see how beneficial and influential they can be. I spent four hours standing outside chanting, marching, and waving a sign in the air, protesting to save our healthcare from drastic cuts it currently faces. Coming from various organizations, networks, and backgrounds, we stood together in unison, all five-hundred of us. From hearing the voices of five senators, doctors and nurses, patients, and families, I learned the true impact that broadcasting your voice can make.

During the 4th of July weekend, in addition to experiencing America’s 241st birthday, I also gained an important education on another aspect of history, more specifically the Holocaust. I spent over three and a half hours at the National Holocaust Museum here in D.C. on Wednesday, getting a first-hand understanding on the devastation inflicted on over six million innocent people. I had always wondered how citizens could have allowed for, pushed for, and even assisted in the senseless inhumane and despicable treatment or blatant murder of Jewish families (as well as Romani and the disabled), but the exhibits shed some important light. Although it was emotionally painful to read through the exhibits and view the numerous films, it was an education that I personally believe we all need to fully understand (and learn from) how to prevent such genocide from ever occurring again. In my time at the museum I was only able to get through half of the exhibits, so I’ll be returning next week. I encourage everyone to visit sometime if you get a chance.

Interning at the National Women’s Health Network has not only been an excellent educational experience, but has kept me very busy. I have focused a great deal of my energy on the recent health care bills currently being handled in the senate. In the past week I have attended health policy briefings, speeches, rallies, and national conferences. This past week was an excellent learning opportunity for me as I created my first health policy memo, one that will be distributed publicly for not only other organizations, but the public to utilize. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I had to send it to the communications department, but it eventually became a document I was proud to have written and share. In addition, I also created my first health education fact sheet, which was aimed at educating adolescents and young adults on how to utilize the various forms of available contraceptive methods.

With three weeks left, I look forward to the new adventures I will experience and lessons I will learn.

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