In every end, there is also a beginning

I came to this city with my eyes wide open, I would joke to partners that if I were a sponge, I want to leave D.C. completely filled with information and knowledge. And this city did not disappoint, every day there was something new and fascinating I would learn, either during hearings, listening to speakers  or simple banter between friends. I’ll be forever grateful for the opportunity to stay and learn from D.C. most knowledgable people in these last two months.

For our final assignment, the first thought that came to mind when reading “Two Tramps in Mud Time”, was a conversation with a firm’s partner. We were discussing what drives people to come to this city beside the obvious. The point I addressed was that many work in the political arena to establish positive change in the system. Where as the counter argument was that while everyone would like the opportunity to influence policy positively, many forget their original goal with time. This point isn’t hard to imagine, as someone who has worked in environments that are fairly repetitive, I could understand how one “loses their way”. And while the following stanza of the poem does not say the two outside character lost their way I do believe it plays a part.

Nothing on either side was said.
They knew they had but to stay their stay
And all their logic would fill my head:
As that I had no right to play
With what was another man’s work for gain.
My right might be love but theirs was need.
And where the two exist in twain
Theirs was the better right—agreed.

I think that at some point they too loved to their work as lumberjacks but as time went on and more pressing issues came up, their love turned to need. My interpretation of what the writer is also saying is while he understood the strangers position, it did not qualify reason enough for him to set aside and let the two finish the job. I think its important to keep in mind that there will always be people coming in and out of ones life, saying they’re a better option for a project or have more suitable skill sets to complete a task, and to remember ones value in light of what other may be saying.

But yield who will to their separation,
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future’s sakes.

My favorite stanza from the whole poem was “My object in living is to unite”. This line encompasses what I dream a life work will be; To work an in industry the empowers and improves peoples future and day to day life. Growing up I’ve seen the toll it has on people who work only to sustain their livelihood, and while I understand the need, I do feel it important to make use ones skills to help others in the process.

This process, for me, can only be done here in D.C., the center of policy making. Where conversations of change start over simple interactions in dinner or cafe meetings. And because of this, I’ll be back. This city may not be my forever home but it will play a part in my life.

See you soon,

Daisy.

 

 

 

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Soul Food

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The beauty of D.C. is everywhere; It lies in the architecture of buildings, the parks, the numerous monuments, garden rotunda’s and even the breathtaking sunsets. With all this, it’s easy to forget that outside the hustle and bustle of the city there are communities in the out skirts that are continuously combating hardships. Which is why our program found it important that during our stay in the city, we find a way to give back to the community that is aiding us towards our goals. Two Saturday’s ago, we were given the opportunity to volunteer at the local Food Bank; Capital Area Food Bank or CAFB. This organization is the largest organization in the Washington Metro area working on helping people each year get access to healthy nutritious food. At home, I volunteer at a similar organization called “Feed My Starving Children”, although their focus is not local but international, they are fighting the same fight: Hunger.

Waking up extra early in the morning, we traveled to CAFB’s location to meet with former ASU-Capital Scholars alumni to be a part of the morning shift. We were given a brief introduction to the CAFB’s mission goal and a tour of their facility. During the tour, we were shown their “Mini Store”, it was a similar replica of a grocery store, but with fewer aisles. The purpose was to allow families to “shop” for food for a significant lower amount then at actual grocery stories. We were then asked to sort frozen packages of meats into similar groupings this way they could be stored and distributed to families accordingly. While at first we were confused on how to organize the foods, we soon got into a rhythm. The most rewarding part of the morning was knowing that our labor was going to help families not worry if they will have food on their table. It was also a reminder of how fortunate I am and to remember the importance of giving back. To acknowledge that while a neighbor may not be showing hardships, it doesn’t hurt to stop and ask if one can lend a hand.

On much lighter note, as mentioned, we volunteered side by side with former ASU alumni who had also been a part of this program. One of them reached back out to us to invite us to play in their baseball games. And while I did miss this past weekends game, I’m hopeful I’ll be able to attend their last one before I leave to Arizona.

This week I was also able to meet with Representative Wasserman Schultz in a intimate discussion meeting on how to start the conversation with members to recruit a more diverse staff. My biggest takeaway from the discussion was learning the amount of effort different people are taking to make the Hill more inclusive of minority communities. I hadn’t thought it was a big issue, I truly believed prior to the conversation that many members are doing what they can to give everyone the same opportunity as their peers to learn and work for them. Meaningful internships were also discussed, on how to ensure internship opportunities are more than just busy work. I found this part of the conversation very touching, because it’s a reminder that employers understand the significance of what internships opportunities mean for us.

Doing more by doing less

For this week, some of us were asked to read Essentialism, a book on “The Disciplined Pursuit of Less”. What is essentialism? The google definition was; “The view that every entity has a set of attributes that are necessary to its identity and function”. To Greg McKowon, the author of Essentialism, it is “[A] disciplined way of thinking…challenging the core assumption of ‘We can have it all’ and ‘I have to do everything’ and replacing it with…a more selective criteria [for] making the highest possible contribution toward the goals and activities that matter”. A theme that was constant throughout its chapters, on learning that by taking less unimportant responsibilities, one is able to do more with tasks that truly matter. I’d say that while I understand what the author is trying to convey, I do not believe it is applicable to those who are still needing to prove themselves  within their respective industry. With that said, there were a few chapters that were relatable.

The one that I’ve recently been applying to my life this past year is the “90 percent Rule”. Chapter 9 discusses the importance is having “Extreme Criteria” in place when making decisions. According to the reading, think about a decision and give it a criteria of a scale from 0-100, if the rating is less than 90% then automatically reject it. What I did prior to this reading is similar but from a scale to 0-10, and if my “rating” wasn’t higher than 9 then I would ultimately move on. I started doing this when I realized I was getting anxiety in being unable to attend events with family and friends due to work or school responsibilities. Of course some of the tasks were not an option not to complete but there were a few instances where I could stop and say my time now can be better utilized later.

I’ve openly talked to people about my lack of sleeping, and I’ve owned up that it may be due to poor time-management. McKowon, touches on this in chapter 8, “Protect[ing] the Asset”. Many believe, myself included, that sleeping less gives one the ability to complete more, which of course is backward reasoning. As research demonstrates that lack of sleep is actually counter productive in producing results (96). While I understand all of this and what the author is trying to convey, old habits really do die hard. I hope that when I am older and more established, I’ll be able to have the luxury in having a schedule that allows me to sleep a full eight hours.

On a side note– I had this book on my desk today at work, and my boss stopped by to receive an update on a project I’m currently completing, he notices the book and excitedly started to praise it. He walks out with saying he’d love to discuss the book with me and share thoughts on its lessons. I’ll let you know how that goes and where our conversation leads us to discuss.

A takeaway this week is the importance of establishing friendships inside and out of work. While it’s been such an amazing adventure to be out here in D.C. I can’t help but be homesick, and while I am only here for two months, I do want to create lasting friendships. Recently I’ve been spending time with a co-worker outside of work and I can see the takeaway of this as she recently has been inviting me to events this weekend. I’ve also attended a few networking events this week and have met up with a two people for lunch. I plan to continue these friendships and I hope I’ll be able to maintain them once I leave back to Arizona.

 

Red, White & Blue

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Of all the national holiday’s, I would say the 4th of July is my most favorite. It brings three things I thoroughly enjoy; Food, Family, and swimming. Yet, for the past two years I have not celebrated the nation’s Independence Day with family, and this year marks the third year in a row. For the last 3 fourths of July I’ve either been out of state or out of the country for school, so I’ve tried to make it as special as it can be since I’m not celebrating with family. And this year was no disappointment. What better way to honor those who’ve sacrificed their lives and hear our nation’s anthem than on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building?

The day started out fairly mundane, I had lunch with three of the girls from my program at a restaurant that serves Mexican food. I found this amazing establishment when my boyfriend was visiting last weekend, we both loved the food and I couldn’t wait to bring more people here. After a few hours of chatting with the girls, we decided to go to the National Art’s Museum. While we were there, another girl wanted to join us since we would eventually go to the Capitol building, so we waited at the Museum’s inside garden rotunda. This spot is so peaceful; I wish it were closer to my job that way I could come during break and just take in all its beauty. Now mind you, this day was one of the hottest days so far since I’ve been in D.C., we were in no hurry in leaving the air-conditioned shelter the museum was providing. Eventually, the other girl caught up with us and we left towards the Capitol’s steps. This portion of my day, was an adventure. I literally felt like I was treading through a jungle, covered from head to toe in a heat blanket. While the steps weren’t far from the Museum it still felt like miles away with the humidity and the blazing sun on us.

fullsizeoutput_12dWhen we did finally get close to the steps, it was still too hot to sit on them and we ended up finding a shady place in the grass to pass time. Two of the girls ended up leaving but the one who had met up with us later, stayed. while we waited to go to the steps we heard the musicians rehearse before the concert started. We heard the Beach Boys play their famous song “Surfin U.S.A”. After like an hour of waiting, the other girls from our program came andwe ended up joining them on the steps. And thank god we ended up joining them, they were so well prepared, they brought snacks, water and a blanket to sit on. As we waited for the spectacle to start we just joked and chatted about what we had done earlier in the morning. Around this time the boys also joined us and we were just goofing around until John Stamos, the host for the night, welcomed everyone.

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The few hours on the steps were surreal, I was spending the fourth of July surrounded by history. Those steps have seen so many presidents sworn into office. The whole time I was just trying to take mental pictures of the whole event. As the music started picking up, signaling the commencement of the fireworks, our group started to loudly sing along and sway to “God Bless America”, right after this a friend we had made from that day took a picture of us to capture the moment.

A take away from this day was how insignificant our worries are today compared to others. I saw so many people from other countries literally travel to D.C. to celebrate this day. This day means so much more than what we recognize. Its more than celebrating our declaration to free ourselves four hundred years ago, it’s the hope and promise it gives those who are oppressed. And while there are news outlets stating we’re a country divided in half, on this day, I saw the opposite. I saw people from different age groups to different cultures all come together and celebrate next to one another. It’s a memory I’ll hold and will continue to remember even in the roughest of times. Therefore my biggest lesson was never forgetting what it means to be American and I mean truly, to represent and continue to advocate for those that cannot.

 

“The Senator”

As my first month comes to a close, I feel I’m as much a “newbie” as I was at the start of the program. Don’t get me wrong, I’m more accustomed to my surroundings and the flow of this city than I was before, and I have a good routine at work, but there are always new things I am still finding out. And I honestly love this, D.C. always has something new to offer or to do. To keep up with last weeks promise in continuing to network, I attended two events before the end of the week, both were lunch briefings on two different topics; Autonomous vehicles and the other was on the merger between At&T and Time Warner. I also went with my program to Mt. Vernon this past Sunday and I was able to squeeze in some time to interview one of the partners from the firm I am work at this summer.

I started the interview with asking about his upbringing, he told me he came from a single household family which attributed a lot to his beliefs and why he decided the career path he is on now, he mentions that his father also had a big role in how he became interested in politics as he served in the Navy. He jokes he knew early on he would have a voice in shaping politics, and his friends in college would often call him “The Senator”. I lead the conversation towards the making of his career, and if there was ever a point where he felt he needed to step back. At this he shook his head, saying it he enjoys what he does and feels his work has been constructive if not essential to voters and stakeholders.

The discussion then moved to advice. He emphasized the importance of having a moral line in this type of work. He referred to people he had known that “fell through the cracks”, and spoke that while it is important to represent clients or the company’s interests, what matters most, ultimately, is to keep to one’s moral compass and to never cross it. Following this comment, I asked if he feels there is anything particularly important that my generation needs to address. To this he nodded his head, saying that we need to push through the “noise”, specifically from the media. “Your generation has it harder in regards to figuring out what is true and what is false, and my fear is that instead of addressing this issue, you guys will just shut down”. At this I commented that I personally couldn’t agree more, as I myself turned away from the news for a period of time because I  felt over whelmed in needing to “fact check” news sources. I moved the conversation to career advice, if there’s anything he’d be willing to give his two cents in. At this he accentuated that before diving into to the private sector, to instead try to obtain work on the hill or the administration, as it would be “invaluable experience”, before being tied down with other life responsibilities.

My biggest take-ways from our conversation, were of course his advices. He highlighted to very important aspects; The current issue my generations faces with the media and the importance of keeping close with your belief’s. He also touched on the importance of gaining experience in the public sector before life responsibilities get crazier, and as someone who’s going to graduate within a year, I’ll take this piece of advice to heart.

My goals for this week, are the same as lasts’, to continue to network and foster friendships. But, I’ll also add another; Continue to have meaningful conversations with the partners at the firm.

Events & More Events

Its week three y’all, and after living in this bustling city for the last 504 hours, I am unable to find adequate words to describe the nation’s capital. While it is true that there is always something to do, always some event to attend, there are some neighborhoods that shut down after six. Which can be odd considering the juxtapositioning of the communities, as one may be livelier than the other. Regardless, I consider this past week to be a success in keeping up with the city’s pace. I’ve not only attended my first Stanley Cup parade, as well as my first Congressional baseball and Nationals game. I also had the opportunity to attend two other events through old-fashioned networking and gained some knowledge on autonomous vehicles (AVs) along the way.

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fullsizeoutput_115First and foremost, let me give you some background on how monumentally historic it was for the Washington Capitals to win the cup. This hockey team was established in 1974 and while they were constantly present in the playoffs, they were never able to win the cup until now. You can only imagine the sheer joy and excitement this city was filled with when the “Caps” brought the Stanley Cup home. The city hosted a parade for in honor of the victory and was held on Tuesday, June 12th in the early afternoon. My supervisor was kind enough to let us watch in the parade in person.

On Thursday, our supervisor asked us if we wanted to go to the congressional baseball game, and of course we all said yes. Since it was the one year anniversary of the shooting that occurred against the congress members, those who were the first responders that day were recognized on the field. It was entertaining to see congressman outside of their offices and committees. Mostly I was happy to be in a different environment, it truly felt like summer being surrounded by smell of popcorn and hotdogs. Heres a picture with the other interns from my work as well as my supervisor at the end.

 

I was able to attend a Nat’s vs Orioles baseball game because of dumb luck. One of my bosses was going to initially go to the game but realized he needed to attend his daughters games and asked if anybody wanted to go. I was the only intern in the office at the time so he gave me his club tickets. I wasn’t able to get anyone else to come with me because everyone left this post for last minute, so I went ahead and went on my own. I was only at the game for an hour and a half due to the weather but it was nice to go to a game again.

This past weekend was great in regards to meeting new people, one was a BBQ on Saturday, and the other was a rooftop pool party on Sunday. The BBQ was thanks to Gillian, another Capitol Scholar, who’s co-worker had met us at a prior event and asked Gillian to invite us to her house warming party. It was a whole-some experience, we met and chatted with other guests and were even given a tour of the home. The way I was invited to Sunday’s get together was because last week before a committee hearing, I started chatting with a Hill intern whom later in our conversation added me to a group chat with other hill interns. On Sunday, one of the members from the chat sent out a message to anyone that would like to come to his pool party is welcome to join. I hope I continue to “come-out of my shell” and go to more events like these, I want to see what else I can do and see through meeting other people. My goal for this week is to RSVP for an event in D.C. and attend it.

Although last week was slower paced than this week, I feel like I learned more as I invested more time in the few committee hearings I attended. One these hearings was on “Innovation and Infrastructure: Examining the Effects of Emerging Autonomous Technologies on Americas Road and Bridges”. Not only was this interesting, it was also insightful because it addressed several issues with autonomous vehicles (AVs) being dispersed on roads, that I had not thought about before. I’ve always been pro AVs, not only do they hold the potential to make roads safer, they can also help people with disabilities drive on the road or aid them. What I hadn’t considered prior to this hearing was how much it would impact America’s infrastructure. Having this new technology on roads means several things for infrastructure, but the biggest one would be making cities update roads and highways. As the commissioner of New York’s DOT put it in her testimony, “This technology should instead be prepared to operate safely and effectively in complex urban environments. It is [un]realistic to expect cities to accommodate a still improving technology”. While it is important to revamp infrastructure in cities (as some are nearly falling apart), its hard to ignore how AVs in recent news have cause drivers severe injuries to death. Don’t get me wrong I’m still want this technology to be in the near future, but now I am also considering how much of an impact this will make in other ways besides safety.

My goals for the rest of this week is to continue to foster the friendships and acquaintances I’ve made so far and look into events that will further foster opportunities to network. I’ll keep you posted (:

Because of a BBQ

While I’m no longer star-stuck with my surroundings, I’m still wide-eyed, as I’m always finding new things in the same places I pass by every day. For example, at work, while I acknowledge my building houses several companies, I just noticed this week that SpaceX offices are a floor below mine. Or that while in between getting lunches, I’ve been able to explore my office more and read the articles my bosses have of themselves. The firm I decided to intern with this summer is a bipartisan lobbying group. I know, everyone that has heard me say “I work for a lobbying—” gets a funny look on their face. The term, lobbying, has a pejorative connotation, but after clarifying what lobbying is and explaining what The Madison Group does, everyone relaxes. Here’s what I’ve explained: The Madison Group is a “boutique agency, they tailor their work to fit the specific needs of [the] client. The firm specializes in tax, technology, telecommunications, trade, and transportation.”

I’ve been with the firm for all most two weeks now, and I couldn’t be happier. This is not your typical desk job, in fact would hardly call it that at all. I’m either attending committee hearings for clients or I’m sitting in on conference calls. The highlight so far was accompanying, Ari Storch, a partner of the firm, to meet fly-in clients and attend meetings with their members. This was an all-day thing, which gave me the opportunity to go with Ari to the Capitol Hill Club for lunch and a sit-in to meet congressman Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), alongside the clients. Honestly, the moment was too surreal for me. I’m looking forward to more occasions like the one I had that day.

This week I had the opportunity to sit down with Marcus Mason, the senior partner at the Madison Group, and asked about how he came onto the firm. He chuckled at this, and said it all happened because he was invited to a BBQ a friend was hosting. At the BBQ, he met Robb Watters, the founder of the firm, and after a few hours of talking and

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over a bottle of moonshine, it was settled—he would join Robb and help create what the Madison Group is now: A firm that not only prides themselves of being bipartisan but goes above and beyond for clients.

Besides working, I’ve also ventured out to the city and explored. This past weekend was PRIDE, and I’ve never had the opportunity to attend, so a couple of us decided to go to both Saturday and Sunday events. Saturday was the parade, and it was a blast. Most company’s floats were just busses with people at the top as they threw goofy sun glasses

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or bracelets at the audience but United airlines float had a mini inflatable airplane on top their bus. Which was cute. Here’s a picture of a friend and I at the parade.

Sunday was just as fun, we didn’t stay long at the festival but it was nice looking at the different vendors that day. We got a little goofy and decided to play in a inflatable arena, heres a picture of me putting on the helmet. Right before we left we did end up taking a picture together in front of some colorful balloons. I’ve added for you to see. From the festival, we decided to get cupcakes in George Town, we’ve been hearing since day one in D.C. that they are a must. And they really did live up to hype. We went to

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Baked & Wired, and the cupcakes are not only huge but also delicious. My goal for the summer is go to another location in George town

as well that I’ve been hearing about, I’ll keep you posted.