Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sec. 01-03. A Breath Taking, Dazzling and Crowded Independence Day!

Washington D.C. is an awesome place to watch the Independence Day firework show. I am glad I was able to witness the scenery, as the fireworks lavished the nation’s capital over the Washington monument. The anticipation leading up to this historical event was stimulating; everyone insisted that there is no place like D.C. on Fourth of July. Well they were right. It definitely lived up to the expectations.
I started out the day very relaxed and had lunch with a mentor while we watched the world cup quarterfinals between France and Germany. Later that day we went to a local Thai restaurant and it was my first time eating Thai food. It was amazing. While at dinner, we enjoyed the final world cup quarterfinals game of the day between Brazil and South American who are rivals of Columbia. This game was a blast and it was intense and emotional. The tournament MVP James Rodriguez heroic performance for Columbia was over, and the home team star Neymar broke a vertebra in his back during the game, which also put an end to his presence in the tournament. 

This is my third time celebrating July 4th in America even though I am Jamaican. I am accustomed to spending the fourth with my family in Long Island, New York and our style of celebrating is family barbecuing, dominoes, and family games. Then in the evening, we would gather in my uncle’s living room to watch the firework events going on in New York City. Nothing beats spending time with family, but the dazzling combination of the crowd and the Fireworks display, momentarily filled that void. Being in D.C. for Independence Day gives a distinct feeling, which translates into a more meaningful Fourth of July experience. Thousands of people gathered the streets with the same enthusiasm, as I watched the launching of the fireworks. The experience went beyond what I had imagined. Watching the show at the national mall as the dazzling fireworks shoot right over the Washington monument was a sight of perfection. The combination of the people, the vibrant dazzling colors and sounds of the fireworks lit up the entire city. This Fourth of July was special, breath taking and defiantly an experience I will treasure. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Sec. 01-02. The Wait Is Over

Investigative Interns for the Maryland County Office Of The Public Defender
I’ve waited a long time to be in the position I’m currently in. I didn’t know going into the end of my junior year I would actually be in Washington, DC and interning at the Montgomery County’s office Public Defenders. So you may ask, what have you been waiting for waiting for? I waited for an opportunity, like working for Office of the Public Defender, so I can learn how to be a better student, professional, set higher standards for myself and create a network with people who can aid in my transformation. That long wait molded me for what the nation’s capital has to offer.
    For the past two weeks I haven’t been able to blog because I've been investing my time settling into my internship site. Firstly, I had to go through what is known as, Informational Investigative Training. The training prepped us for the role and responsibility of an investigator and the challenges we will encounter on a day-to-day basis.  What I love the most, as an investigator, is that my work is valued. The Office of Public Defender utilizes their interns to limit the need of outside paid investigators. The job entails taking witness statements, writing legal documents like subpoenas, and being ready for any other request by an attorney.
    After going through a long week of training, I am now working hand in hand with attorneys on their cases. The subpoenas that I write are used to acquire evidentiary documents or for an individuals to appear in court. The ability to speak Spanish extends the range of cases and attorneys I work with. I’m allowed to interview clients and witnesses in Spanish to get their statements.  I also aid in conversations between clients and attorneys by interpret Spanish to English and vice versa. Lastly, I strategically analyze jail calls, email, text messages, 911 calls, and surveillance videos, like police interrogation, for evidence that may self-incriminate, or support our clients. 

    With two weeks and counting, I have not had a dull day at the office. Working with the public defenders keeps me fascinated and I get the privilege to influence people’s lives on a daily basis. So far, this has been a fruitful experience. I’m able to use the skills and knowledge I've acquired thus far in my college and personal experiences to excel. What else would you say is rewarding? Not only am I gaining new skills on top of what I already knew, I am also strengthening my previous skills.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Sec. 01-01. A Pleasure and A Blessing All In One

My team for Scavenger Hunt 
Hello, my name is Necas Collins and I would like to start out by saying, I am here all the way from, Claremore, OK to represent Rogers State University and myself. Thus far, my journey in Washington, DC, has been a pleasure and a blessing all in one.

I am honored to be the first student athlete from my university to receive this prestigious scholarship to attend the Washington Center Academic Program, while interning at the Montgomery Public Defender’s Office. The opportunity presented, has been one of the best academic accomplishment in my life thus far. The Washington Center focuses on the transformation of students into professional leaders of tomorrow’s world. I have it in my intentions to mimic a sponge and absorb as much knowledge and understanding as capable. I am sure this will be a life changing experience as well.
Bryant Park

34th and 7 AVE
    Prior to my arrival in The Nation’s Capital, I had the privilege to spend two weeks in New York City with family members, while preparing for my summer internship program. I also had the opportunity to venture into the city of Manhattan to experience some of its magnificent sceneries. The skyscraper, bright lights, activities, and the relentless bustle of people will astonish anyone. My last day was spent in Central Park, which is one of my favorites.

    I left New York City on the 28th of May and an embarked on this journey starting with a four and ½ hour drive. Unfortunately, it was extended into a five and ½ hour drive because of a heavy downpour of rain. Upon arriving at The Washington Center, I checked into my room, unpacked my luggage, and met my roommates. So far, my roommate is welcoming. Together, will be working at the Montgomery District Court for the Public Defender’s office, we also will be taking the same class while we are here.
United States Capitol Building

Museum of Natural Hisory

On Thursday after my orientation, my roommate and I took a 15min run to the White House, the United States Capitol building, and back to our apartment. On Friday, I had met students who are law and criminal justice majors in the program. Together we had to partake in a scavenger hunt in the city; this hunt had us all over the capital from searching for historical locations to Museums, my adviser used this as a strategy for us to get familiar with the city we will call home for the next ten weeks. My group and I took full advantage of the hunt; we went to visit Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, National capitol, and other Historical sites in the city.
On Saturday my roommate and I, along with other students did a “dry run” to familiarize ourselves with the area we will be interning. We wanted to be prepared and have an idea of our trip beforehand to prevent any complications. Overall, the commute is about 45 minutes long. 

On Sunday a couple colleagues and I, took a trip to the Billy Goat Trail for a Hiking experience, the scenery was glorious. This was one of the first times I went hiking and it was a great experience. Even though it was great, it was not easy going through the trail. When I reflect back on my purpose for being here, I can relate it to the hike. I have new surroundings; everything is glorious; the task to complete will not be easy, but the task will be completed as long as I persevere. 
Darlington Memorial Fountain - Judiciary Square

Images Captured at the Museum Of Natural History

The pictures below was captured during my  hiking trip, with an addition of the Washington Monument.  

Hiking Trip
Washington  Monument
The Billy Goat Trail 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

All Good Things

Team Red, White, and Blue "100 in 100"
So I'm sitting at a gate in Baltimore-Washington International waiting on a plane to make the first leg of my journey home. I've got mixed feelings towards Delta Airlines at the moment; they contacted me at midnight to tell me that my first flight was pushed back three hours. This would have been news to celebrate if I hadn't already booked a ride with Super Shuttle from my apartment for 3:15 AM. I'll make it to my connecting flight in plenty of time still (there was a lengthy layover in the original itinerary), so I guess it's equally boring waiting out the time no matter which airport I'm at. And Delta offered its apologies through all-you-want cookies, pretzels, and juice here at the gate. It's like going to a blood drive, except there are no terrible needles, just the tasty snacks. Again, mixed feelings, but thee food is much appreciated.

Arlington Cemetery
But on to the real stuff: a final commentary on D.C. and my experiences here. I must admit, going into the internship and summer, I had no idea how important these 10 weeks would be for my future. As is the way with D.C., I made connections that have opened a number of doors for job opportunities. My internship helped me better understand the career field of emergency management, but it seemed like absolutely everything I participated in gave me new opportunities to network. At an event for my civic engagement project with veterans, I met another young woman who is an engineer in emergency management in the D.C. area. She had some great advice for pursuing a career in the field, and encouraged me to stay in touch as I built my résumé up with more experience and education. The career field is growing rapidly, so there are a lot of positions in both the government and private sector. In sum, I loved my internship because of all that it made possible, as well as the amazing office atmosphere at the Department of Interior. The other projects through the Washington Center made it a truly life-changing experience.

Braves @ Nationals
Outside of my internship and projects, there was a lot of fun to be had hanging out in and around D.C. One of my classmates from my semester in Wales visited this past week, and we explored Arlington (it was a strikingly large place) and watched the Nationals play the Braves. The game was even more exciting than the all-American pastime typically is; after Harper (a Nationals player) hit a home run, the pitcher pegged him with the ball the next time he was at the plate. Chaos ensued as players from both teams rushed out of the bullpens and dugouts, yelling at each other. The Braves' catcher was physically being held back by a team manager from punching Harper in the face, as Harper cursed the pitcher while standing halfway down the first base line. The game was two parts baseball, one part hockey. Two sports for the price of one and we had a great time sitting back with chili dogs and Dippin' Dots just watching it all play out. The Braves won.

Library of Congress
So that's about it. I turned in my Capstone portfolio and we had a commencement ceremony at the Washington Center Residential and Academic Facility, I loitered around the Library of Congress a few evenings, and I ate the most random assortment of food the past three days as I finished off what I had left in the pantry and fridge. There were a thousand and one things that made this summer amazing, but the greatest was easily the chance to meet a lot of passionate people who are out to change the world.

Until next time, D.C. Keep it real inside the Beltway.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

A Hitchhiker's Guide to Being an Intern

What a crazy busy summer, and it just keeps getting busier as it gets closer to being over. I’d use the expression a “snowball effect,” but I can’t bring myself to do it with the stifling heat that’s taken over the city. It feels like a sauna every time I step outside. Aside from the weather, D.C. has continued to be absolutely awesome and keeps throwing new stuff at me each day. My supervisor connected me with the National Park Service and I’ve had the chance to do some training with them during the work week and I’ll have the opportunity to do more this fall, thanks to the work of multiple RSU professors who have helped me with scheduling. The National Park Service has a lot of sweet government job opportunities in emergency medicine and search and rescue, which would be a dream job for me. D.C. is a city that’s all about networking, and I’m finally realizing the importance of making those connections. I love D.C.

The internship has been good fun, but some of the best experiences have been those I’ve had off of the clock lately. Last weekend, I went with a friend up to Boston to watch the Red Sox play the Yankees at Fenway. I will venture to say that it is the highlight of my summer here on the east coast. We also walked the Freedom Trail through Boston, before we headed down to Philadelphia to see landmarks like Eastern State Penitentiary, Rocky’s Steps, Independence Hall, and the Liberty Bell. The baseball and the history that surrounded us made it a great trip, and we finished it off by watching half a dozen episodes of Suits (the true cherry on top of all the awesome).

This weekend, I went with a coworker to see the city of Annapolis and partake of traditional Maryland cuisine: crabs smothered with Old Bay seasoning. They were delicious. She picked me up from the metro station and we drove to the old city, and we spent a few hours just roaming the streets and shopping. They had a pottery shop that was undeniably amazing, and tons of waterfront stores to explore. When we were done in the town, we went to a beach on the Chesapeake Bay and swam in the half-salt, half-fresh water before kicking back to sunbathe. Having missed out on my usual summer at the lake, it was cool to have some time by the water here on the coast. Today I worked on a few documents I had to edit and went out with a friend to watch the new movie Wolverine at a theater in Chinatown (honestly, “Chinablock” would be more appropriate, it’s a small area). In all, weekends have been the greatest part of the summer, and that means a lot considering how cool the internship site and the office are.

I’ll be back to home sweet home in just under two weeks. My class has two assignments due tomorrow night, and the Washington Center expects a finished capstone project from me next Monday. Yayyyy, homework (I hear that there is this mythical time in the future where I won’t have homework ever again…pshh, it can’t truly exist). The pace is really picking up in these last few days of the summer. I’ll catch a plane on the Saturday before classes start and be back in Oklahoma that afternoon. If I’m not completely zonked out when I get in from my flight, I plan to move in to the dorms on the same day. We’ll see how that one turns out. I love being busy and the next couple of weeks promise not to disappoint. I try to keep in mind a quote that’s been reiterated to me by a great professor: “Don’t panic.” Advice taken, towel packed.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Anybody Want a Peanut?

My Meeting with Congressman Mullin
The Fourth of July came and went
It was hot as hell, but time well spent.
Watched a parade and fireworks, had a picnic
A few days later I was wretchedly sick.
Didn’t die, so I went to the Archives
Where housed are those which protect liberty and lives.
Met my congressman and went on a Capital tour,
Saw the Folger Shakespeare Library just moments before.
Following that, the Holocaust Memorial Museum was a somber place,
Words can never fully express what those walls encase.
I’m missing home some, but D.C.’s a blast,
Four weeks left, time’s flying by fast.
Here’s to Rogers State, my friends, and all,
Washington’s great, but I can’t wait for fall!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

In Which I Hit a Police Officer in the Head with a Tennis Ball

So a professor from Rogers told me not to throw anything at anyone while I'm in D.C. Luckily for me, my supervisor at my internship told me otherwise and I got to chunk a lot of stuff at police officers and the horses they were riding. The U.S. Park Police are part of my Department, and they're brushing up on their training and drills before the  4th of July celebrations next week. The past two days, I was sent out to their training stables to be a "demonstrator," and got to throw tennis balls, water bottles, and Frisbees at the officers. They told us to try and get past the shields of the ground officers and peg them if we could. I did. I also got to mock sword fight other demonstrators with wooden canes, shove and be shoved by police shields, and verbally assault the officers. And they let us pet the ponies! It was definitely a change of scenery from sitting in the office and writing/editing stuff. The Chevy Suburban we took there and back was one of the dark-tinted government ones, and it was cool to see the tourists rubbernecking as they tried to see if we were part of a motorcade, frantically looking up and down the street we were on. The first time I was at the stables, we made it about three hours before the officers were called out for an emergency in front of the White House. I learned today that there was a massive group of protesters who had chained themselves to the White House fence and one guy who jumped it and got tackled by the Secret Service. Park Police went to lend a hand to the Secret Service, and they brought the horses and some bolt cutters to clear the mess up. 'Murica.