What’s More Valuable: Traditional Life Lessons or Deeper Life Lessons?

Since my last blog post, I found myself in a Medstar Promptcare last Wednesday, got diagnosed with acute tonsilitis, took the whole dosage of antibiotics, and am feeling much better now. The following day my organization had our monthly Chapel where our President spoke at as well as our annual 4th of July BBQ lunch. The next few days were eventful like usual. Friday, I turned in a first draft of a blog post that I had been working on for my organization’s website, as well as finished up a tedious contact assignment where my fellow interns and I had to find and take note of certain legislators’ contact information who had authored, co-authored, sponsored, or co-sponsored certain legislative pieces or topics that the Family Research Council is interested in. I finished up the day taking detailed notes at an interesting National Briefing at the U.S. Capitol entitled “Creating a World Without Sexual Exploitation: How Consumer Demand Drives the Commercial Sex Trade and What We Can Do About It.” Overall, it was a rather informative event, and I am glad that I was fortunate enough to attend, as quite a bit was brought to my attention about this issue and its recent movement with organizations and legislation. Representative Christopher Smith discussed his bill there that just passed in the House on Wednesday, July 12th, the H.R.2200 Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2017. It was a great precursor to FRC’s Speaker Series next Tuesday, July 25th at noon, “The Battle for Humanity: How Conservatives Can Fight Human Trafficking” with Representative Ann Wagner commenting on “congressional anti-human trafficking initiatives.” Immediatly following the Q & A portion of the event, myself and the other two interns present rushed out and ubered over to NPR’s studio where we met with one of my bosses to witness her interview. Just as discussed in a previous post about Arina getting asked last minute to speak at the National Press Club in the National Press Building on behalf of Charlie Gard, she got asked to be interviewed for a radio segment. It was so exciting getting to watch from the production end as one of my bosses was nailing the difficult questions getting thrown her way. Saturday morning, I had to be up early for a road trip for a rugby tournament in Delaware. It was a very pretty drive as we crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and saw sailboats gliding across the water. Although my face got so burnt, I had a fun time as my social team side played really well and won our whole side of the bracket and some of us got a chance to celebrate. The following day, Mustafa joined Aundrea and I for mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on the Catholic University of America’s campus. As a Catholic, it was such an amazing experience to have mass in and venture around the gorgeous, huge National Basilica. This church had countless lavishly decorated side chapels, as well as an underground foor filled with walls covered in donor names, including “Babe” Ruth! Trying not to waste a free museum day, I decided to venture around the National Gallery of Art, and ended up fortunate that it stays open an hour later until 6 PM on Sundays. I absolutely LOVED wandering through the museum and discovering art work of Paul Cezanne, Vincent van Gogh, and one of my favorites, Claude Monet! It was nice ending the evening catching up with my younger sister on the phone as well. As I am a recently hired Kaplan Student Brand Ambassador, I spent most of Monday evening catching up on my training and talking on google hangout with my mentor. Although I was looking forward to practice Tuesday, it got cancelled due to the random rain. The weather here is so unpredictable as it was pouring when I left work, but then cleared up by the time I got off the metro, so I decided to meet some fellow interns and check two things off my bucketlist: watch Hidden Figures and see an outdoor movie at the Georgetown Waterfront Park. I was surprised at how packed the grass lawn was, but was glad I got a chance to take part in this adventure. Today, for our weekly “Careers and Callings,” our very own Arina, Director of the Center for Human Dignity, shared her career path with us, informed us on many of the issues that she has been working on, and gave us applicable life advice. “Find where your passions meet your call,” “get the skill sets so you can do your part,” and “don’t be afraid to speak out” are a few of the helpful tidbits of knowledge she shared with us.

Traditional Life Lessons
As far as reflecting on my previous lessons learned in this great city and my time here, I can divide them into two categories: more insignificant/ traditional lessons and life-changing/ deeper ones.
Blog #1 & 2: During the first two weeks, I covered transportation methods including: how to use the metro with walking on the left side and standing on the right, the number that utilize uber and lyft here, and about the use of uberpool and lyft line. I have also learned how to work with different kinds of people, and being the newcomer with showing up late to the internship due to my time with the Capital Scholars Program, not living with my fellow interns in the Congressional housing near the Union Station, not having a cubbie on the sixth floor with everyone, and having to leave a week earlier than everyone else due to this program and my resonsibilities with residential life and having to move back into a dorm on July 30th.
Blog #3: Here, I touched on how I learned that aside from legal or political careers, there is an abundance of diverse jobs in D.C. that one would not initially think about. Even within my Capital Scholars group, we clearly depict the different opportunities available here, from some working on the Hill to think tanks to lobby firms to the Peace Corp. to medical organizations to a nonprofit. The opportunities truly are endless here if you are passionate about making a difference within your field. Along the more academic side, I learned quite a bit at a think tank workshop through the Leadership Institute. Exposed to accomplished scholars who work or have worked in think tanks, I gained a greater understanding of the difference between 501c3’s and 501c4’s. Think tanks are 501c3’s, and their primary role is to research and educate others, such as working on huge theses, shorter abstracts, or pamphlets, for the use of Congress or the White House. On the other hand, 501c4’s are the lobbying firms that are allowed to influence legislators to work on a certain issue and Political Action Committees (PACs) can fund different campaigning efforts. I am also learning the true meaning behind “work hard, play hard.” After being worn out with work, I regularly try to wake up early Saturday mornings to catch a ride to make it to an all-day rugby tournament with the D.C. Furies team.
Blog #4: Along the lines of rugby, I discussed the countless lessons that this insane sport has taught me in my fourth blog post. Basic teamwork values, responsibility, time management, working with different types of people, and having a strong work ethic to represent yourself, your teammates, your coaches, and your school well are just a few of the qualities that I’ve recognized that this sport has given me.
Blog #5: As a “people person,” if you will, I noted on how it was special to me that a group of people can grow so quickly together to ultimately assist others to enjoy their birthdays and make them feel exceptional no matter what they were going through.
Blog #6 & recently: Lastly, I learned what it felt like to endure Tonsilitis and having to go to an Urgent Care and get a prescription without my parents’ assistance, learned from Matt Caruso that “not everything is always going to be ‘cupcakes and rainbows’ in college and in ‘real life,’” and also learned quite a bit about sustainability our volunteering day. Looking back, I gained quite a bit of knowledge as well wandering through countless museums and during excursions, such as to Annapolis and Mt. Vernon. In more of a field trip sense, I learned a lot from my times tagging along as the intern with my bosses to places such as the National Press Club in the National Press Building, Capitol Briefings, and NPR’s studio.

Deeper Life Lessons
Living in a new city and creating new experiences, I feel as if I have encountered deeper life lessons more than ever before.
Blog #1: Mentally, I learned a lot of networking skills and how anyone you talk to could be a potential connection, from your uber driver to the person riding next to you on the metro. Thus, it is always important to engage in these kinds of conversations. Furthermore, I realized the importance of handwritten “thank you” letters, as Ms. Grant made sure we thanked all of our speakers and alumn that came and talked to us, as well as an outside speaker from the FCC to the Family Research Council touched on it, as well as within my internship, we wrote “thank you” letters to our guest speakers. In general, social skills are of the utmost importance here in the city.
Blog #2: Aside from the social environment, I was learning to be patient with myself as I adjusted to what my director expexted of me. As I had never written a political report nor a bill analysis before, I was eager to take on the challenge, yet skeptical as to my final outcome. Even though I had thought I was a decent writer, the red ink scattered across the page said otherwise. I am learned to write more concisely this week, as well as shortly getting to use State Net with LexisNexis.
Blog #3: Aside from traditional learning, I have learned that family really is that important, and people can be truly caring. As my grandfather passed away the morning I flew out to D.C. for my new adventure here, I was fortunate enough to be able to fly back home to Phoenix for the services. It was nice to be excused from work and be able to see my family, and was pleasantly surprised at how sympathetic my internship coordinator, department directors, and fellow interns were. After transportation issues on the way back here, I was again pleasantly surprised when I found gifts of a shirt, a rosary, and cute cards from my Capital Scholars roommates expressing their sympathy lying on my bed. Later, I was surprised yet again when a few of the Capital Scholars guys brought over flowers for me that night as well. Thus, I have learned how kind and caring people can be, which has been such a great experience. As far as my internship work, I got put on some new assignments under a different department, and while the work seemed to be rather tedious looking through reports and putting my findings in spreadsheets, I realized how beneficial it wasl towards pro-life work my organization was working on. Thus, I experienced being flexible and versatile in the work I am doing for my internship as well, and always being ready to help out another department.
Blog #4: This week I touched on all of the lessons that I have learned from my experience playing rugby both at home at ASU as well as here for the D.C. Furies. It has provided me with so many lessons, both physically with new workouts, as well as emotionally with having to always pick yourself off the ground when beaten down and countless other team-like lessons. I have, also, discovered that it’s not just about networking, but maintaining authentic relationships and friendships with your network. A former Hill staffer and high-position-holder from the Heritage Foundation provided us advice during my internship’s weekly “Careers and Callings,” and I particularly noted him discussing the significance of balancing work and family life. This week gave me an abundance of networking opportunities both within my rugby team as well as at various events almost every day, so I’ve also come to realize the real importance of not just networking, but creating authentic relationships as well.
Blog #5: This weekend I’ve witnessed quite a bit about people. I am learning not only about the types of people here in D.C. and who I surround myself with, but about myself and how I react to different situations. I also am learning that no matter how much effort you put into something, such as planning a detailed 4th of July schedule, sometimes things don’t go as planned and there is nothing you can do about it. While I celebrated my first-birthday-away-from-home and had a 4th of July experience from the past flag cakes at gramma’s house and watching fireworks at Tempe Town Lake, it definitely was an unforgettable, life-changing weekend.
Blog #6: Aside from continually being reminded that sometimes things don’t go as planned and realizing that you have to adapt with it, I learned that one can have a relatable, personable relationship with one’s bosses. As I had never encountered that with previous jobs, most notably after working four summers for a former strict Marine, it was rather refreshing. Because the Family Research Council is a Christian organization, I felt comfortable discussing something that had been weighing on my heart recently with my internship coordinator, and then, he recommended me to speak with another staff member to receive advice. Being able to share and obtain guidance from my bosses was more helpful and relieving than they know, and I’m so thankful that they took time out of their busy days to talk to me.
In conclusion, while I have learned traditionally and extensively within my internship and throughout my time in D.C., I believe the more valuable lessons are the ones that I have obtained when reflecting deeper, such as: family really is that important in life, the real significance of not just networking, but creating authentic relationships as well, and becoming aware that sometimes things don’t go as planned and there’s nothing you can do about it, but come away with a lesson learned, a smile on your determined face, and a steady focus towards the future.

Thanks for your time, and I encourage you to ask yourself: What’s More Valuable: Traditional Life Lessons or Deeper Life Lessons?

Brigette Maggio

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