BY DANIELLE STEINWART - MARKETING AND DEVELOPMENT INTERN
Last week marked my halfway point with LSA. My first month in DC has been, quite simply, a whirlwind. From jazz nights to weekend markets, from baseball games on warm nights to shady lunches by the Capitol, my time here has been moving at an uneven pace, creeping along at some moments but mostly leaping forward in bounds. It’s been exhausting and wonderful. But it wasn’t until this last weekend, when I spent some time away from DC, that I understood what has been making my summer here so special.
I spent my holiday weekend in Houston (a city where the Fourth isn’t so much unique and glamorous as it is a slightly bigger show of Texas’ daily patriotism), and as I told my boyfriend story after story about LSA and DC, I realized a truth that applies to most great experiences: the people I’ve come to know here are what have made my summer so meaningful.
And so, reflecting on my first month in DC, I thought I would talk about a few of those people who have so positively impacted my time here.
One of the first things you realize as a recent college graduate in DC is that good food costs good money. Heck, even bad food is expensive. Goodbye, reasonable Midwestern prices.
So when the man who owns the hot dog cart outside your work sells good food for $4 and then gives it to you half off, you know you’ve made a friend. More important than cheap food though, Izzat has extended to my fellow intern Nura and me unbelievable kindness and friendship. He talks to us about his family, gives us free ice cream after someone (Nura) drops hers 2 minutes after buying it, and teaches us words in Arabic, his native language. In a city where everything is fast paced and everyone tunes the world out with their earbuds, people like Izzat who take the time to have real conversations are immense blessings.
At first, I was intimidated by the fact I’d be doing work for four different staff members in two departments. I could easily picture becoming inundated with work, trying to please everyone but not knowing how to prioritize my assignments.
But while prioritizing work has been a challenge at times due to my own inexperience with working under multiple supervisors, everyone has been incredibly helpful and communicative. They understand when I am struggling or have questions. They encourage me when I’m insecure about my performance and give me solid advice for future work. They are what every intern hopes her supervisors will be like, though most rarely have the time or interest in being so present and supportive. So, thank you Natalie, Tania, Liliana, and Caleb. You’ve helped me grow professionally (and physically, thanks to Natalie’s Alpine chocolate).
Okay, I had to include him. You would do the same thing if he ambled into the Eastern Market while you were picking peaches (all right, Nura was picking peaches. I was sitting on a curb waiting for Nura to be done picking peaches).
It was a pleasure, Mr. President.
Katie & Kathryn
These two roommates (Kathryn is an honorary roommate) make up an integral part of my core friend group in DC. Though they’re both CAPS fellows from Valparaiso University (Valpo), I hadn’t met them until this summer. And after a month with Kathryn and Katie, I don’t know how I got through four years at Valpo without knowing them.
They have taken me on all my favorite adventures here, including nighttime monument walks, cheese and wine parties in the backyards of bookstores, and a midday meet-up with our good friend Mr. Clinton.
Aside from being my fellow adventurers, they have been amazing friends. Kathryn keeps me grounded when I get dramatic about things like late trains and bad weather. Katie gets me out of bed when I want to spend the day watching Mad Men. Both are amazing cooks (also contributing to my physical growth). I’m constantly thankful for these two and their friendships that I know will last long past August.
The star of many of my stories, Nura is my roommate, fellow LSA intern, and Valpo student body president (shameless brag). Before coming to DC, I would tell people at Valpo about my internship, and when I would mention that Nura was my roommate, there was always a resounding, “She is so cool.” And over the past month, I’ve come to realize what an understatement that is.
As I’ve gotten to know Nura, I’ve been waiting for some dip in her character, some flaw that would make her a little more human. And besides being clumsy with food, I’ve found nothing. She has a beautiful heart, a sharp mind, an ambitious and humble spirit, and a true compassion for others. She’s also hilarious, an avid 2000s R&B fan, and political nut (seriously, she’s like a walking Facebook for the Who’s Who of Capitol Hill).
Thank you, Nura, for being the quintessential example of how bad experiences can be made funny and how good experiences can be made phenomenal when you’re with the right people.
I can’t wait for what the second half of the summer holds.