Sunday, June 23, 2013

Less Narrative, More Full Picture (you know, if you're wanting to figure out if this shindig is something you'd want to do)

It's pouring rain outside today, so I figure I should do my dreaded homework and take a break for a blog update. This post is just a short snapshot of what it's like to live and work here. The RSU scholarship to the Washington Center is great, and the Center asks students to complete three major components for their program while here: an 40 hr/week internship, a civic engagement project, and a class at one of their campuses. There are workshops and speakers tucked into various spots of free time throughout the summer, but the main grades come from these three components.

The internship is awesome so far. At this point, I want to give a shout-out to every professor who ever taught me about the intricacies of the English language. That knowledge has been invaluable in the professional field. I edit a lot of massive documents and distill a lot of them down into summaries to present to my supervisors, which has shown me how very useful it can be to study as an English major in college. Since I'm in the Office of Emergency Management, there is a FEMA liaison in our office who takes me to FEMA headquarters to sit in on some really interesting meetings. National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife are both on my floor where I work, and the office of Wildland Fire and the bureau of Indian Affairs are just downstairs. This is cool because they all are majorly involved with disaster response and search and rescue (which I am really interested in). Some of the folks who work in these offices and bureaus have 30+ years of experience saving lives and being bada  awesome.  Now they are working to make policy that gets the government in step with what's happening on the ground. On top of all that, my coworkers and I get to celebrate Sushi Fridays and have random happy hours throughout the week. 'Tis quite fun.
Department of Interior Main Building

The civic engagement project with Veterans Affairs is equally awesome. Our coordinators give the students a list of events to participate in each week, and I get to pick the ones that sound most interesting. My favorite so far has been visiting memorials with veterans, which is possible through a program called Honor Flight Network (seriously, feel free to break from reading the blog at this point to Google it). There are some really amazing stories that you get to hear from veterans while hanging out with them, and it makes you appreciate just how much was sacrificed for the freedoms we enjoy today. The other event that I love to do with the project is a Wednesday night run with Team Red, White, and Blue. There are a lot of veterans that aren't much older than I am and we run, walk, and talk for three miles. Thank God for the walking part, because I know they'd be shipping a casket back to Oklahoma if I tried to run three miles at a veteran's pace. It's as much a social event as it is exercise, and everyone there has a great time.

The last component of my grade for the Washington Center is my class, a three hour ordeal every Monday night. It's labeled "Strategic Communications" but somehow I managed to work my way into another English class. A majority of the class is spent in analysis of different articles and a presentation of the ideas and motives that the articles express. We are required to give oral presentations and frame our own messages on a mock project each class, but most of it is centered on analysis and succinct writing. Again, I'm surprised by how useful it is to have a Liberal Arts English background in the professional field. And the class isn't that terrible, it's just on a Monday. At night. For three hours. Meh.

So other than Mondays being exceedingly long and arduous days, the whole experience is wickedly cool. I love my internship placement and the civic engagement project I got to pick, and the class is good. My roommates aren't scary, the housing is great, and D.C. is an amazing city to live in. The best part is making new connections with people who are shakers and movers and knowing that, if I can stand out, I'll get to be that sort of influence on the world too, someday soon.

And that's what you get out of just the first three weeks.

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