Don’t worry I wont always write this often and this much.
While in DC, I’m interning with CentroNia, a Spanish-English bi-lingual charter school. During most of the week I work in their development office and during part of the week I get to help teach kids about plants. That is four days a week, standard 9-5 (plus a few more hours here and there).
Programming and class fill that other day of the week. While the three-hour class can be a bit challenging at times, there hasn’t been a single programming I didn’t love. We started off with Jerome Glenn (who started the Millennium Project), and Frank Wiebe (the president of the Millennium Challenge Corporation), which are basically two of my personal heroes. From there we have met and listened to government representatives, entrepreneurs with independent businesses, and leaders of NGO’s from organizations like Dreams for Kids, PreventionWorks and many more. I knew that coming here would allow me to hear a lot of cool people speak, but I never knew it would be weekly.
My weekends are then spent with all the wonderful people who have collected here, including my crazy roommates. Two of my roommates are from Belgium, which I thought at first would automatically make them drastically different than myself and my fellow American roommate, but it only took a few days to realize that I had much more in common with them then I ever will with my American roommate. My roommate from Philadelphia is interning with the U.S. Marshalls, is furious that he cannot bring even one of the guns he owns to DC, and is incredibly happy that republicans took back the House so that Democrats cannot take away his guns. Meanwhile, my Belgian roommates and I sit around and discuss why we feel the government, at a low cost, should provide for all public transportation, healthcare and education. It is odd how it turns out sometimes. But seriously, all three of them are great guys. Besides the fact that every one of us is convinced the messy house is not our fault personally, we get along great and are always laughing.
Within my program the list of amazing people grows even larger. We’ve got people from India, South Africa, Mexico, Bolivia, South Korea, Vietnam, China, Puerto Rico and the list goes on and on.
I think the highlights of my time here in DC would be A. Getting to sit down at Jerome Glenn’s house for 2 hours and just talk about life and all that other cool stuff B. Getting in free to see the Whitehouse kitchen garden C. Being here for the Rally to Restore Sanity D. This amazing pesto-ish pasta I made today from about 10 cups of fresh basil we had to get rid of at the garden.
Still, I have to keep this post balance in mentioning some of the downsides of DC. Just a few days ago one of our good friends (who also happens to be from Arkansas, Little Rock to be exact) was mugged on his way to the grocery store. Luckily he wasn’t hurt at all, but it is a sad reminder that we can’t all skip down dark alleys alone, no matter how enticing that sounds.
Furthermore, I had more than a bumpy ride three weeks ago when I was applying for my new internship at CentroNia (my old internship was not such a great fit for me, and the good thing about TWC is they will let you switch sites). I needed to get some tests done to prove I was fit for work, and because my medical insurance doesn’t cover preventative care here in DC I had to run around for the better part of three days to find a place that wouldn’t charge me 500 dollars to do a simple check up. It’s not as if I was blind to the shortfalls of our healthcare system before, but it’s a completely different situation when you have to spend a few days living the life of those less fortunate then yourself. Call me crazy, but it seems problematic that those at the bottom rung of our society, those who if they want to succeed have the hardest obstacles to overcome in doing so, need to spend countless hours just to get a medical check up or anything similar. It’s the same type of problem that women in rural, impoverished communities face. The world is confused why they don’t just go to school and better their lives, while every day they spend 2-3 hours walking to get water and several more collecting firewood. I don’t know how to solve all of these problems, and I am certainly not blaming anyone, but it just depresses me every time that a privileged people forget their own reality and challenge the under-privileged to just “do better.” Sometimes we just aren’t being realistic.