Beginning My USF in D.C. Experience
USF in DC spring ’16 participant
USF in DC is a semester-long program in Washington, DC that integrates a full-time internship with relevant coursework taught by USF faculty and University of California Washington Program faculty. Emily is a performing arts and social justice major with a music concentration, double minoring in African American studies and legal studies and is pursuing a certificate in theatre tech and design.
It was 34 degrees outside when I first landed at Dulles International Airport. Never having spent much time in cold weather, that was definitely a shock. The biggest shock, however, came when my Lyft driver pulled up in front of the University of California DC (UCDC) building and said, “Wow, you’re only six or seven blocks away from The White House, that’s cool!” Sure enough, I walked to the corner, looked down 16th St NW, and caught my first glimpse of The White House.
That was one of the most surreal moments I have ever had in my life. The next was a couple hours later when my roommates walked with me to The White House and I got to stand in front of the building that great leaders and incredible people have worked in. The next would come the following morning when we walked to the Washington Monument and the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and when UCDC went on a tour of Capitol Hill. There was also a moment when I crossed the National Mall and picked out the exact spot where Mandy Hampton (played by Moira Kelly) was pulled over in the pilot episode of The West Wing, though that’s more nerdy than surreal!
It’s been a week since that first night, and I’m getting more acclimated to the District, though I still slip and call it “the city.” I’ve memorized the address to the building (and I understand the importance of including the quadrant in addresses), I’ve had Dunkin’ Donuts for the first (and second time, the very next day), and I’ve walked past The White House more than once. I’ve also become accustomed (as much as one can be) to saying sentences like “I walked to the Washington Monument this morning!” I am a card-carrying member of the Library of Congress, I have taken the Metro, I’ve officially visited Virginia and Maryland for the first time in my life, I’ve started my classes (which include taking a week-long intensive on political research with the Master of Public Affairs candidates).
I have (as of today!) accepted an offer to intern at an organization I am excited about, the Center for Policy Analysis and Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, where I will be able to work on projects that promote and aim to effect positive social change. This city is unbelievable, the possibilities are endless, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the next three months.
Apply for the USF in DC program here, applications close March 8, 2016.