It’s my last week at Human Rights USA before I return to New York City. I’ve literally stayed here as long as I could. There is a part of me that is not prepared for the fall semester quickly approaching and a part of me that is anxious to get this ball rolling.
I took some time from my internship to have a vacation – after all it is a job … Now I’m back to work and it feels weird. The same old routine I left 10 days ago is here to greet me again. I am concluding some research that requires some serious analysis, background research and critical thinking. But I must say I’ve got the hand of it. I remember how intimidated I was when I first started doing this kind of research. But now I realize it’s how you perceive it. The approach and process is more important than trying to sound smart.
I agree with Carly! Time is flying! Where did summer go? I’m just getting started with this heat and it’s gonna get cold again. I did enjoy my internship and I did enjoy DC. I met some great people, built some strong relationships, toured the city, MD, and VA, relaxed, visited the Kennedy Center and had a free movie on the lawn downtown—good stuff. Now I have to go back to New York to read about Economics and Policy Frameworks. Good grief! But that’s the routine.
See yall in class or on the crowded hallways of CCNY.
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Since my last post, I’ve become more comfortable with my rubber-man intern position. Unlike the other interns, who are all assigned to a single department, my work divvied up between policy (related to the No Child Left Inside Act), education (writing, editing, and revising environment-themed lesson plans) and green schools (constructing a garden, aka manual labor in the sun with a group of high school students). The past week was the busiest I’ve been at work all summer– from one moment to the next i had an assignment from International, and assignment from Green Schools, the option of going to Anacostia to work on the garden and lesson plans in need of editing, all in addition to the bottomless policy assignment I’d been working on the week before.
Today was quiet. I reformatted a lesson plan, we took an extended lunch break to go to froZENyo on F & 10th, and had an awesome almost-2hr presentation from my official supervisor about his experiences from his trip to Louisiana last month, the history of BP, and various other topics relating to the Deepwater Horizon spill. Afterward, he and I spoke a little about the history of the environmental movement, I gave some feedback on the content on the website, and I got a list of good books to read on the subject. I realized I wished there was a class on the environmental movement, the way I’m sure there is for the civil rights movement, and how important it is to have that enriched worldview that allows one to put current events into historical perspective.
DC is a small city. It’s not uncommon to run into people you know, whether walking down the street in Georgetown or browsing the goods at a farmer’s market. The Green Schools intern went to a performance of Avenue Q a couple weeks ago and saw the International Programs and Events directors on a date while waiting on the concessions line. We saw Gareth’s suitemate at the boathouse, and I’m starting to recognize people at Trader Joe’s. I rode my bike down near-empty streets to and from Metro Center today during my lunch hour, and when I got back the IT guy said he saw me riding. Here, my “it’s okay, I’ll never see any of these people again” mentality (used to justify going outside in yoga pants/PJs, talking loudly about personal topics with friends, etc) probably isn’t such a great idea. There’s no crowd to disappear into, and I definitely see the same people more often than I’d ever have expected.
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I saw this poster in a subway car months ago but I certainly decided to ignore it, Washington is a great host city and I did not want to have any bitter feelings before I leave. However today when I took the metro from the IRS office to my office I saw it again, I just can’t hold my anger, I believe that is a direct insult against our sweet NYC.
Well, you can take your carpeted metro and compare it with any other middle city, but in a real metropolis we have to deal with issues other than our little underground zoo. Here are some statistics that may make you think twice before you want to use an insensible poster to deterrence your commuters.
Metro rides daily 801,400 people while the subway in NYC rides 5,086,833 people a day
Metro began operations on 1976, MTA metro system in 1863
The total Track Length for metro is 106.3 mi while for MTA subway system is 842 mi
Metro runs on Cinderella curfew Sun to Thur until 11 pm, the Subway in NYC Never sleeps (to much from a slob system)
It’s like blaming Pele for not being as a good player as Messi, (I’m still on World Cup Mode), I would love to see what metro can do if they have to hold the traffic and intensity of a real metropolitan area.
We may have a little zoo in our system, but I bet you don’t have curious pigeon metro riders
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To pick up from where I left off last Wednesday: Things were crazy last week. But I finally did considerable edits to my foreign policy recommendation blog and gave it to my coordinator for approval. The debate went well. My partner gave a great speech (as always!) and I gave a much better speech than the first time, I feel. We lost the debate, but I don’t care. I won in my eyes. On Friday I compiled my first news-monitoring-email for our visiting fellow. He said I found the relevant information he was looking for with no irrelevant fluff. I am glad. On Friday evening I met with a friend-professor from SAIS and his former student from American University in Central Asia for dinner. It was very nice. The former student is part of US embassy staff in her country. It was thought-provoking to see how her degree in comparative politics did not guarantee her much in terms of work in her country. US embassy is one of the few places where her skills and knowledge is accepted. She would love to work for her government, but it requires her to complete her degree from a domestic university. I wonder how other countries treat young professionals with politics and policy related degrees from foreign universities. On a similar note, on Sunday’s CCNY alumni dinner, I spoke to one man about various things, including international students. He said something along the lines that “it is their [int’l students’] obligation to go back and work for their countries/change their countries, else they are wasted.” Is it their obligation? will they be accepted? How is it for them once they go back? Why so many decide to stay abroad in the US or Western Europe or wherever? Since brain-drain is blatantly apparent, why governments don’t act on it for their own good?
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On Thursday, before our networking event, I had my first debate. I prepared my arguments well, I had many things to say, except I didn’t. We won all the same, because the arguments were good, but their delivery failed. Tomorrow is the second debate for me and the last for all of us. we will have a certificate of some sort that we complete the debate training.
Last week I finally mee with the visiting fellow – I am his research assistant for the next 3.5 weeks. Since it’s such a short time, he just said that I can help him monitor the news starting today.
On a positive note, I met with this professor at SAIS and we went to lunch, and had an interesting discussion. I am looking forward to more of this kind of meetings.
I think this is my down point of the internship – I am leaving now in less than 3.5 weeks and would really like to stay longer. I like DC a lot, and I really love the work atmosphere, besides the constant stress. I think I am just not managing my time properly, but it’s extremely hard with 7 people in the same open space and about 6 more walking in and out of their offices past me.
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Now that I have my laptop back from its repairs, I’m going to attempt to get back in the habit of posting twice a week.
The pace of my internship has picked up a little, though we’re still largely unsupervised, and I’m still in the gray area between two departments. I’ve been working on the set of garden-related lesson plans– today I began a segment on native food species, the Three Sisters (corn, bean and squash), and how foods grown in North America have changed over time. Last Thursday, we had a one-day assignment of making chart- and graph-based algebra problems about solar panels. I spent Wednesday scouring the internet and all the online databases we can access through the CCNY library for cite-able information regarding the benefits of school gardens.
Today the weekly staff meetings were reinstated, so I got a chance to hear about what’s being done in each of the departments. Later this afternoon, there was a brainstorm for the theme/tagline for Earth Day 2011. We didn’t come up with a final decision, but the (extremely democratic) process was a lot of fun, and it felt pretty awesome to be able to have such a say in what a billion people will be celebrating next April.
I’m looking forward to the Campus Progress conference tomorrow and Thursday, followed by Friday at the office (finally finishing the garden lesson plan drafts?), two friends and my brother coming down for the weekend to celebrate my birthday, and breaking ground on the school garden in Anacostia next week! Weather aside, it’s all looking good
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This week I had my first Debate Clinic. It was informative. There will be one more information session today and the first debates starts next Tuesday. My partner and I debate next Thursday and Thursday following that one. This is exciting and stressful. But I am looking forward to it. This is my challenge. Actually, we should organize a debate training session in our school. It’s an essential skill for effective policy presentation and communication! What about a debate class?
There was also an interesting event of media coverage of Africa: too many biases, too little interest, and the least amount of funding for media coverage of Africa. For example, Washington Post has 1 permanent correspondent for the whole continent. Sad.
On Wednesday we finally had our team meeting. we went to lunch – our visiting fellow, boss, coordinator, 4 interns and fellow coworker. It was a good “event” – a semi-formal get-to-know-you kind-of thing.
I am responsible for writing a blog that will go on our website. So I have to have my proposal by the beginning of the afternoon, and draft by the end of tomorrow. I’ve never written a blog entry of that kind before. Wish me luck!
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Last Friday we had a morning event ambassadorial briefing on the newly released paper on strategy in Afghanistan. It went well. I liked the presentation (heard it for the 2nd time). The proposal is to renew Afghanistan’s status of Silk Road. This requires strategic long term investment into infrastructure which will help Afghans and others do business. As has been proven many times over, countries that rely on each other economically do not go to war (think Germany and France and European Union). That’s the idea. After we had a lot of leftover fruits and cake – the whole floor had ambassadorial breakfast =)
For the rest of the day we had things to do, events to attend, a bit of Friday socializing. Around 2:30 I started freaking out that I didn’t write ay reports and the day was almost over, I was all focused on the computer screen. Out of nowhere came my coordinator and quickly said something like “lets go to the conference room, we need to talk about your report ASAP!” By the time I got up form my desk he was already gone. I quickly followed him into the conference room where the lights were off for some reason. I turn them on and “SURPRISE!” from 10 other interns on the floor – it was my birthday surprise! =) they sat me down on a chair, gave me a card and 2 boxes of ice-cream to hand out as cake. It was really sweet of them. It was a great surprise.
The workday ended at 6 – I did have to finish my work before leaving.
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OK I have not blog in a really long time, truth of the matter I’m not fond of blogging and being witness of the relevance that this media has in my organization, I reinforce my position. I like Editors.
However, you got do, what you got do. The Human Rights Campaign is the largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality. I’m working on the diversity department, which basically have the mission to create alliances with other civil rights organizations to promote policies of mutual interest. Of course the department manages several issues, from African American LGBT population in colleges to LGBT population in their path to citizenship.
My first weeks in the office people from the outside asked my why to work in an LGBT organization? Are you gay? Well, it is extremely awkward to me when people ask me why do I have social sensitivity, or why do I care about other people being discriminating against.
For know the organization is working resignedly in repudiate Don’t Ask Don’t Tell by the end of the summer, there are 5 more weeks and we just keep calling people, encouraging them to leave messages to their senators or to write them directly. I’m not quite sure if senators listen to their constituency but as I heard that was a good strategy during the hearings in the house.
I’m rolling over different projects, for know we are trying to encourage residents to become citizens, which is a long term political strategy that I really like. I came along with a project called social justice sexuality, which I will share details later, but it’s extremely interesting, and today I will participate in a meeting for women leadership campaign, which I hope it’s going to be quite interesting.
I will be able deepen into the projects in further posts, and how they are related with public policy. For know I have to go back to Mss Kagan hearings,
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Posted in Washington, D.C. on June 29, 2010 |
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The mundane lifestyle of DC and my internship is catching up with me. Awake at 7:30am, work at 9:00am, Lunch in Dupont Circle Park, work for a few more hours, home/ dinner with friends, and finally sleep at or around midnight. Imagine doing this for the rest of my life.
Last week my director gave me a bill that came out of the International Criminal Court conference in Kampala, Uganda earlier this month. The bill is on the table, and I will spare you the details, but it makes a lot of extreme claims against the US. My job was to analyze the consequences of this bill if it were to pass the body. (Most likely it will not pass the body because the US is the US.)
Analysis of the future is hard, man! We can only assume what’s going to happen because we don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s like predicting the weather. Stable, but not. The good thing though is that I didn’t have to come up with all the analysis on my own. While I did most of the research, I also attended a meeting with a few movers and shakers, and other representatives to hear the evaluation of the Kampala meeting. Apparently I’m supposed to know some of these people, because they are known in the IR field, but I didn’t. (Thought: I always wonder why is it important to meet someone with a fancy job title; is my life going to be better in some way?) It was a very much a laid back kind of meeting, around a discussion table and I got to hear the first hand account of those who actually went to Kampala. At the end of the week, I submitted a 2-page analysis and I’m hoping it meets the requirements of my organization.
My director sometimes sends me to meetings outside the office to represent the organization and I am always grateful to escape the yellow (sometimes prison-like) walls of my office. It’s a good getaway and a brilliant way to learn about other parts of DC. Last week I went to the office of Citizens for Global Solutions on the other side of DC where there were real people who appeared to have real issues. Still a nice area, but looked a lot like Brooklyn. I was glad to finally touch the place where actual people live.
The GW /Dupont Circle area, where I live and work, is the cookie-cutter kind of life. There trust fund babies walk the streets in their sophisticated suits and summer dresses, rambling on the latest gadget about some element of their tiny bubble. While it is cute, half the time I cannot relate. But I still like it…at least for the moment.
Random complaint about DC: What’s the deal with paying for plastic bags at the store?
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