Arriving in Washington DC on Sunday May 24, my summer experience began. My home away from home has become a contemporary, comfortable apartment on the campus of GWU, living with two others: Fabio Botarelli from New York and Adam Dovens from Virginia. Two weeks have passed by since the start of my 2009 summer in our nation’s capital and much has happened. I have gotten to know most of the seventeen other interns in the AAPD internship program and am very happy to have many new friendships. Our first endeavor was orientation, Monday May 26th-28th. This proved to be a good time to focus on my goals and strategies for the summer, as well as learning more about my fellow interns and meet my wise and helpful summer mentor, Patrick Cokley, from DOL. On Friday the 29th, I started working in the Office of Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI5), the husband of the Chairman of the AAPD Executive Board, Cheryl Sensenbrenner. My time in the office has produced a tremendous foundation for the experience I seek on Capitol Hill. Congressman Sensenbrenner and his staff are well respected on the Hill, and I feel privileged to have the opportunity to work in his office. Additionally, he and his sweet, kind wife are strong disability rights advocates and have done very much for the disabled community.
AAPD is an organization who unites the disabled of all kinds in order to advance the goals of the broader community. Having one of the over forty Muscular Dystrophy disorders (CMT) has had a huge impact on my life, though it has not stopped or prevented me in hardly any way. At home, I walk solely with fore-arm crutches, but this summer I decided it best to rely on a wheelchair in order get around town more easily. I can honestly say I had never used an umbrella while rolling in a wheelchair; it was quite an experience. Overall, I have come more to sympathize with those who are forced to use a chair full time. There are many difficulties and inconveniences that stem from using a wheelchair. I hope to share a few stories over the course of these blog postings that have opened my eyes. [Quick preview: Metro breakdowns, dirty sidewalks, and rude/kind people].
In closing, you must know in my two weeks I have greatly enjoyed myself. I have high expectations for my summer and I anticipate those expectations will be met. I am very grateful for the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation for sponsoring my summer and also very thankful for AAPD and everything that they do, especially for this internship opportunity.