The Circle of DC
“There’s more to see than can ever be seen, more to do than can ever be done.”
Interning in the political hub of the nation, I could not find more truth in the words of the opening tune to “The Lion King.” Through Machon Kaplan, 20 students are given six weeks to explore and discover all that our nation’s capital has to offer. We have been given the challenge of finding our way through the D.C. jungle. Whether it’s the branches of government or the zoos of people that crowd the metro every work day– or even the survival of the fittest in Congress– Washington, D.C., is a jungle.
And when one travels to a jungle, the only reasonable thing to do is explore.
Coming to D.C., I was consistently told about how much I would love D.C. because of all there is to do (especially when one can go to Smithsonian museums, monuments and many performances, all for free). But there really was no way of predicting all of the amazing things and ideas going on in this city.
Just walking to work is an experience in itself because I get to see throngs of people in business attire, all wearing headphones, yet in some way still able to dodge traffic and navigate around the endless amount of circles and state-named roads that randomly cross through the city. But, if one cannot appreciate the atmosphere of the city, walking into the House and Senate buildings are even more awe-inspiring experiences. Literally anyone can just walk into any of the buildings because it is our right as citizens to meet with our elected representatives (unfortunately, that’s quite different from the White House, where strict security is understandably necessary).
But the biggest experience to be had in D.C. is listening to all of the ideas flowing around me. There are endless heated debates, and one can learn so much from just listening to both sides of every argument while at the same time, taking every new piece of knowledge with a grain of salt. There are even more reforms going on at every street corner. Whether it’s the rights of the LGBT community or Washingtonians’ rights to be represented in Congress, issues that will affect the entire country are being decided right here, all around me.
I came here with an internship at the US Campaign for Burma. I advocate for a country small enough to be unknown by much of America, but important enough for an entire NGO to work tirelessly to work with grassroots members from across the country. The goal is to get these members to call their Senators and Representatives to lobby for the renewal of sanctions that can save thousands of Burmese citizens. We may be here in D.C., but we are impacting change across the globe.
So with my three weeks left, I know that I’m not going to be able see or do everything—but that doesn’t mean I won’t try.
Andrew Feldman is a participant in the Machon Kaplan Summer Social Action Internship Program. He is interning at the U.S. Campaign for Burma.