By Nura Zaki – Member Engagement and Advocacy Intern
This week marks my fourth week living and interning in our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. Each day begins with me walking wide-eyed up Capitol Hill as government buildings and monuments peep through the trees on my daily commute. I’m participating in a fellowship where I live and work in intentional community. Being the first of my suitemates to arrive in the city set in motion a series of ‘firsts’; my first Metro ride, first wrong stop on the way home (not all Metro lines are created equal), first to realize our door can lock on its own (it’s not a loss if you learn?) and my first fire alarm scare (if it’s not right when you’re ready for bed, did it really happen?).
With those kind of experiences also came the first time I saw the view from our terrace at dusk, my first Metro card and ride paid for by a generous stranger, and being greeted by the kind man passing out newspapers each morning. It has not been overwhelming as much as it has been full. Full of small successes (locating the trash chute on our floor opposed to walking downstairs. We’re on the 10th floor), stunning views (the Lincoln Memorial has to be seen at night), and surprises like no other (there are some very important people walking around DC!).
Amidst this grand adventure of living and interning in a new city, wanting to share with others the excitement that I’m feeling and document the moments I’m witnessing; our nation is also experiencing moments that require pause. In the past few weeks, my roommates and I could not help but stop while in the thick of our plans to discuss the news updates we’ve received of some of the worst accidents and acts of violence we’ve seen in recent history. Waking up to CNN News updates on our iPhones, we’ve started our days receiving first word of recent events that rock us to our core. There are far too many incidents hitting us at once to brush them off as a loss like others we’ve experienced. This particular series of misfortune is turning into a season of grief that doesn’t allow time for healing before it strikes again. I’m glad to have my suitemates to talk with and process these events together as we feel strongly about them. It is only natural to feel emotions of anger, disgust, fear; those feelings are warranted. However, I cannot help but feel that they are not an end in themselves. Our response to such news should be more than just reactions, they need to be actions.
Once such incidents have gotten our attention and we’ve been provoked by the devastating actions of others, we too must seek attention to shine light on the good that is being done around us. If we stand for love, or justice, or hope, we should be as diligent as those opposed in seeking to represent these values in the world. What I’ve experienced interning at LSA this past month has been a glimpse of such values in action. Lutheran Services in America is an inspiring place to work because it is made up of people whose actions directly support those doing good work throughout the United States. As the Member Engagement and Advocacy Intern, I am learning how LSA seeks to best serve their members, and by extension, those most vulnerable in their communities. With over 300 organizations throughout the country, their presence as health and human service providers is wide-spread and far-reaching. Through advocacy, LSA takes stances on issues that matter to those they affect to promote and propel a voice for good in a place like DC where big decisions are being made. The people here truly care about the wellbeing of others and nothing proves this more than their actions day in and out to create the change they wish to see in the lives of those they serve. Now that’s newsworthy!
There are many things in this world that we have no control over. What we can control is the actions we take and the impact they make. This month has been a reminder that we should not hesitate to do good wherever we go. Good does not just have to be reactionary or in response to harm- it can also be proactive and purposeful. As I begin my second month with this wonderful community at LSA, in this city of opportunity, I will not forget to add among my plans to do good.