My First Days Interning in Washington D.C.
On Sunday, along with 19 other Jewish college students, I began my six-week experience in the Machon Kaplan summer internship program. Coming from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and being transplanted in the nation’s capital, I am excited and eager to see what the rest of the summer has to offer. Although as a group we have been living in Washington D.C., for only a short period of time, it has been a swift transition into a new city.
Interning at the RAC has been an exciting experience from the start. The first day included traditional introduction activities such as becoming acquainted with the computer systems, reviewing staff charts and reading manuals. However on Tuesday, myself and fellow Machon Kaplan participant Rachel Chung joined Noah Baron, one of the RAC’s Eisendrath Legislative Assistants, at a Senate hearing on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 1397/S. 811), which would outlaw employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Sitting in on my first Senate hearing was an amazing way to start my internship. Participating in an event like this was simply exciting based on the newness of the activity. Similarly, being able to hear former comedian and now-Senator Al Franken (D-MN) talk was an added plus. Although taking part in an event like this was exciting, the premise of the hearing was one that addressed a difficult discussion in America today.
As Kylar Broadus, the first transgender individual to testify before the Senate, discussed, countless lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals are being wrongfully treated in the job market based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Personally, I find this act of discrimination wrong. In America’s past, Jews have also been mistreated and banned in certain professions and workplaces. As Jews, we must realize that discrimination like this cannot continue to happen.
On a lighter note, after I completed my second day of work on Tuesday, the RAC hosted an event called “Meet S’more Interns.” Jewish interns in the D.C. area were invited to the RAC’s office to come together and meet one another while enjoying some free food. There were familiar faces from the Machon Kaplan program and many other new faces. It was great to meet some fellow Jews with a similar summer experience, and the event helped make the large city of Washington, D.C., feel a little smaller. I also enjoyed running into a longtime friend from home, whom I had not seen for a while. The past few days living in Washington D.C. have yet to fail my expectations, and I hope that in these next weeks, it continues on the same path.
Zachary Cherny is a participant in the Machon Kaplan Summer Social Action Internship Program. He is interning at the Religious Action Center.
Photo courtesy of the U.S. Daily Review.