Monday, September 21, 2015

Becoming a Washington Insider

Becoming a Washington, D.C. "insider" is an ambiguous process which may take years of doing internships, fighting for jobs, internalizing acronyms, and attending happy hours. Nevertheless, I started off start by getting "inside" the capital's most powerful institutions, namely the White House and Congress. 

I took advantage of my status as an intern at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and participated in the Agency's Human Capital & Talent Management intern activities. I expressed my interests to the intern coordinator and discovered our mutual interest in soccer. As an intern at a federal agency, I relied on the Agency's relationships to get me to those places. With the USAID network and a little luck, I was able to visit White House and Congress. Without the advocacy of the intern coordinator, I might not have visited these institutions as I would have been required to go through the lengthy process of requesting tours from my Congressperson.

These institutions carry a special energy which I might compare to a temple or a Wonder of the World. I desired to visit them as a pilgrimage of sorts. Through a guided tour of the Capital, I learned about its construction and design. Through a self-guided tour of the White House, I learned about the purpose of each distinctly colored room. Interestingly enough, when I visited the White House, I needed to ask questions from Secret Service agents to learn about each room, its paintings, furniture, and history.

Upper Left: Adrienne, a fellow HESN intern and PhD candidate at Texas A&M, and I take our photo with the POTUS seal at the White House entryway on the second floor. Upper Middle: Another photo of Adrienne and I in the White House foyer. Lower Middle: One of the USAID intern tours of Congress fell on June 26 which coincided with the Supreme Court decision on Obergefell v Hodges. Surrounded by LGBT activists, it was a emotional atmosphere. Upper Right: Asha, a fellow HESN intern and medical school student at UCBerkeley, pose in front of the California statue of Junipero Serra in the National Statuary Hall. Bottom: USAID interns in the Rotunda on our guided tour of Congress.

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