From the White House to the RAC: Two Summers in Washington DC

July 18, 2012Machon Kaplan

There isn’t anything quite like summertime in DC. Young adults flock to the nation’s capital for a once in a lifetime living and working experience. But for me, I’m fortunate enough to have a second ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity. Last summer as a rising sophomore, I was one of the youngest interns in the White House Office of Presidential Correspondence, an incredible experience on its own. As a newbie around town, I drank it all in and made my ten weeks here as eventful as possible.

After doing all the typical touristy stuff, I would now consider myself a fairly seasoned Washingtonian. I came here this summer armed with my SmartTrip, extensive experience (good and bad) on the Metro, knowledge of some of the best local restaurants, where to shop, and lots of stories and anecdotes from my last adventure navigating and living in D.C. I’ve had the chance to be a first-time tourist all over again with Machon Kaplan and instead of doing it alone, I have been able to experience it with nineteen other incredible and passionate students.  Being with this amazing and empowering group has made each monument visit, every metro ride, all the museums, and every other moment I have spent here a thousand times better because this time I was with people who, like me, want to make a difference in the world and who truly wish to do something great with their time here. I would have to say that the old adage ‘quality not quantity’ definitely rings true in my experience. Last summer’s ten weeks can barely hold a flame to this summer’s six short weeks. Don’t get me wrong, last summer definitely had some unique and very memorable moments, such as three trips to the White House (including a tour of the West Wing) and, yes, even seeing President Obama!  Although the limited time this summer has meant long days and not enough sleep, it has been worth every lost moment of rest. Last summer I sat in my office from 9-6 every day, and it was one thing I truly regretted. But not this summer. This summer I left my desk and immersed myself in D.C. This summer I went to the Supreme Court when the Affordable Care Act decision was handed down. This summer I went to conferences and meetings and presentations. Last summer I discovered D.C. as a center for change and a hub for passion. This summer, thanks to the support and teachings from the RAC and Machon Kaplan, I learned how to make my own changes and how to show my own passion in D.C. The next time I come back to D.C. I’ll not only come with the practical know-how like navigating the streets, but more importantly I’ll come with the knowledge of how to make an impact on the issues I care about and with the confidence that I can make a difference in the world. Thank you, Machon Kaplan, for giving me this confidence and making this summer even better than my last. Pammi Shapiro is a participant in the Machon Kaplan Summer Social Action Internship Program. She is interning at The Peace Alliance.

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