Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Great Summer Experience

I am glad that I was chosen this summer to be a 2010 AAPD-Microsoft IT intern. Working at the Department of Commerce provided me with such great experience, and I greatly enjoyed it as well. I learned a lot about Drupal, and I am already starting to implement it for my own personal use as well as for others.

I also gained some life experience, such as in socialization, which was one of my main goals to get out of this experience. This is the first time I had lived away from home, and with strangers. At first it was a little difficult, but before too long I got used to it; I got to know my roommates pretty well. Also, between going to work and going to the many available events, many opportunities were provided for me to socialize and interact with others.

I am still keeping in contact with my mentor, Pablo Chavez, from Google. I am so glad that I was paired up with him as he is such as great guy. I continue to keep in contact with him and hope that I will see him again soon.

All in all, this internship was such a great experience and I would do it again any day. Good luck to any future interns that my read this, you won't regret it!

-Benjamin Tshudy

Friday, September 17, 2010

Goodbye DC, A Fond Farewell

My last week as a DC intern was one of my best. I knew my way around the Senate buildings, the metro terminals, the subterranean passages connecting the various parts of the Capitol complex, and that most important DC introduction detailing my mission for being in the city, my original affiliation—since most people in Dc are not truly from Dc—and my next free moment to catch a coffee. I adored getting coffee with people. Aside from the interns in my office, I sat down with a Yale alumnus from my very own residential college and a journalist who has a vacation home in Croatia. I myself would like to go to Croatia to see the annual sword dance which the boys and men of Korcula perform in July, a tradition that stretches back to the Crusades. However, this may have to wait. I have to go to law school first, and thanks to Stacy, I met a number of blind lawyers and or law students with similar aims. Each had good advice for navigating the law admission and testing process. (shivers) Junior year will be interesting no doubt.

That said, I am going to miss some things. Frozen yogurt and mint chocolate are near the top of the list. It is not the question of their being items of food but that I consumed them with intelligent, creative people who knew how to talk well. I am going to miss the good conversations. Additionally, I know at the start of the summer I disliked giving tours of the Capitol. Now … It is rather nice. I have a chance to walk around, take a short sojourn away from the office, and discourse about American Neo-Classical art and architecture. My favorite tourists were the small families, parties of four or five individuals, who made plans to come all the way from Kansas and spend a week of their summer in our nation’s capital; and it was up to me to ensure they had a great experience learning about the legislative branch. Two families in particular stand out since they openly marveled at the different rooms and the history made in them a century ago. Plus they had several questions. I love it when people have questions. That means they are paying attention!

I believe I shall miss the metro where I met just about everyone: a friendly Australian tourist, a restaurant owner, a gang of French guys, who were out clubbing most likely, and so many other walks of life. It is like New York, though a little bit slower … or, hmmm … hard to say. Each city is different but similar in certain respects, no doubt since each is quite old. One day, I may return here. For now, I must away to New Haven.

--Nikki Singh

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Week 10: Tid-Bits

OK, so where do I begin this reflection? This summer was a major success - I learned a great deal about the legislative process, completed substantive projects, and was given an offer to return as a fellow next year! If I had to offer advice to prospective interns, I'd say the following:
1.) Work hard no matter what you're doing, whether it be administrative tasks or substantive assignments. Going the extra mile, staying late, will demonstrate your commitment to the office.
2.) Offer a helping hand to everyone, not only your boss. Become an integral team member of the office by showing your eager to add value and contribute.
3.) Have fun. Get to know everyone in your office. Having positive relationships with the people in your office will make them more comfortable giving you work. They'll think of you when there is an assignment that needs to be done.
I had a great opportunity to work with wonderful people in an office that was slightly under-staffed, so I was given the opportunity to do substantive work. I am very thankful. Thank you AAPD, Team CMR, and my fellow interns for an amazing summer!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Some random things I learned and/or observed this summer, in no particular order

This summer has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. I have tried and failed for weeks to capture all the amazing experiences I have had these past few months into a few short paragraphs. In the end I decided to just start writing. And so, I present, some random things I learned and/or observed this summer, in no particular order:

Our nations capital shuts down after midnight. As someone who has now spent 5 years in New York, this always seemed odd to me.
Even if you leave plenty of time and plan ahead, a project will always hit a major stumbling block after you think your in the home stretch.
Congress is often boring but can get very interesting.
Paradoxically, interesting stuff is most likely to happen when you would least expect things to get interesting.
Never trust the expert/consultant when you can double check their work yourself.
The "if you live nearby you never visit tourist attractions" effect applies even if your only living somewhere for 2 months.
Never bother making a plan B. Map out your options beforehand and roll with the punches
Plan A is just a suggestion. Never hesitate to take a chance on an opportunity.
When life give normal people lemons, they make lemonade. When life gives interesting people lemons, they make strawberry lemonade, open a lemonade stand, or toss them out and make coffee instead.
Distance is truly measured by the availability of public transportation and how long you are willing to sit on a train or bus.
When dealing with a tough problem, first ask if anyone has had the issue before, then search the internet for a solution, and then ask for help.
People are far more likely to help with a hard but interesting problem than a simple but ordinary problem.
While there is no such thing as impossible, there is such a thing as infeasible. Knowing when to give up is a vital skill.

I could sit here for hours going on in this way, but something tells me this is a good place to stop. I wish I had time to go over everything I learned & all the things I experienced while I was in DC. I am terrible at keeping in touch, but I hope to keep up my relationships from this summer & to visit again soon. If for some reason I don't keep in touch, please give me a nudge on twitter (I am @MisterGlass). While I don't like posting my email or phone number in public, they should be easy to get if you ask around.

In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who made this internship such an amazing experience. The staff at AAPD, my coworkers at ITI, and the leaders of disability community who took time to come talk to us interns are just a few examples of great people I had the honor of meeting this summer. You have all contributed to a summer I will never forget.


Monday, August 16, 2010

The End.

I’ve slipped into a post-DC coma, avoiding my email, my facebook, and my cell phone for the last week plus, but I suppose its time to rejoin the real world. Finally unpacking my suitcases last night and going through various mementos, it all seems a bit unreal now. How is it possible that so much happened in 10 short weeks?

To write about this summer in the past tense seems a little odd too. I may not physically be in DC anymore, but the connections I made and the experiences I had are the kind that will stay with me forever. Thank you to everyone who made this possible. Especially to the AAPD staff who worked so hard to make sure this summer was life altering. And to MEAF whose support made everything possible. And to my mentor Yoshiko who taught me so much.

To have to fit everything I learned into a neat, little post seems counterintuitive, especially when one of the biggest things I learned is that the best experiences do not often come in neat, orderly, gift-wrapped packages, and the measure of success is how well you can run with the unexpected opportunity. My time in DC taught me to suspend my expectations and be ready to embrace the unexpected, to always put myself out there because opportunities rarely come around a second time, and to be a better listener than speaker. The highlights of my summer were the AAPD-NCIL BBQ (over 1400 members of the disability community!!!!), the Power & Pride Gala, the star-studded pizza parties, and of course appearing on NewsHour with Andy.There are too many more highlights and lessons learned to list, so I’ll just end with a final THANK YOU!

Last Post

So… the last blog post. My internship has just flown by. It was a great experience exploring D.C. and getting to know the disability community this summer. I think my eyes have been opened to the strength and unity of our extremely diverse community. Most of the summer has been busy with work and some fantastic AAPD event, but this week things have been winding down. I have made some great contacts and even better friends in my stay and Washington D.C. I wish I could stay longer and keep working at the US Access Board but there is always next summer. This last week has been filled with work and goodbyes and goodbye parties. I did do some work which I didn’t mind one bit because it’s always been fun for me to work. I ran my last meeting and finished setting up the server for the inventory software that the office will use to keep track of all computers and software. I would like to thank AAPD for providing the housing that I stayed and also the placement, which was spectacular. Thanks to every one for making my stay in Washington D.C. and incredible experience that I will never forget.

So long, Farewell....

I am writing this part of my blog during my last day of work in Congressman Paul Ryan’s office, and I cannot stop reviewing the summer in my head. While I am very excited to go home to Gilbert, Arizona, it is sort of a bittersweet feeling. This summer has been one of great personal and professional growth for me, and I have really developed a wonderful relationship with the people who work in Paul’s office, along with my fellow AAPD interns, and the AAPD staff and mentors. I count my blessings every day, and I am truly grateful for the opportunity this summer to work in our country’s Capitol. During my time here, I have learned a variety of things, but I would like to outline some of what I believe are the most important (and the ones that no one tells you).

1. Ladies: Carrying multiple pairs of shoes in your bag to work---those heels may be adorable but by the time you hit up your fifth run to the Capitol for the day, you don’t care about adorable.

2. Men: Buy a suit that FITS. Your dads old baggy dress pants just don’t cut it. One nice tailored suit will get you a long way.

3. Longworth Coffee Shop is an intern’s best friend---you think you are going to get up and get a decent breakfast, but after hitting your snooze for the fifteenth time, you barely have time to brush your hair while walking out the door. Breakfast now consists of an iced coffee (LARGE) and an apple fritter from The Creamery.

4. Layer your clothing---DC is sweltering in the summer, but the office buildings are freezing. That cardigan may seem to be suffocating while you walk to work, but by your fifth work hour of -20 degrees, it’ll be a lifesaver.

5. Don’t be that intern---Every office has them. We all know who they are, and we avoid them like the plague for fear of being labeled as such.

6. The constituent is right. Period. End of story---Even if you know the topic like the back of your hand and you know they are quoting the most ridiculous articles on the planet, you listen…and listen….and listen…and thank them with the utmost sincerity.

These may not seem like the most precocious suggestions, but after you’ve gotten no sleep thanks to the people in the apartment above you, the Metro has almost eaten you 5 times that day, and you’ve gotten lost in a building you’ve worked in for 5 weeks already, being intelligent is not at the top of your list. You are ready to settle for being alive.

As for the more meaningful things I have learned this summer, those I have a tough time putting into words. The learning experiences were events, not hints. Seeing fourteen hundred people come out to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the ADA at the Hyatt hits you hard. These are people, young and old, who fought for their basic rights as human beings and the rights of generations to come. Watching not one or two, but eight to ten or more Congressmen and women take time out of their busy day to attend an award ceremony commemorating those who have worked for disability rights legislation shows you that there are people who do really care about the world around them. These are just two of the events I had the opportunity to visit, but there were many, many more.

The second part of this blog, I am writing on the plane flying back to Missouri where I go to school. It is Saturday August 14th, 2010. I have had a little more than a week at home in Arizona after flying back from DC, and I am on yet another flight. Now that I’ve had a little time and separation from the program I am realizing how much I miss working on the Hill and interacting with the people from AAPD. During my last couple weeks I was in DC, I could not wait to get home to see my family, but when I finally did get home, I realized I missed the atmosphere and the people I got to work with everyday. On the flip side, I am very excited to be starting my senior year at college, and I am even more eager to share my amazing experience with the girls in my sorority and my professors on campus. I am really beginning to realize how much the ADA affects my day to day life and the lives of everyone around me. I can’t wait to share my new knowledge with the people I get to see on a daily basis. I am realizing that this blog is getting a bit long-winded, but there are just so many things I want to say. To wrap up, I first want to say thank you to MEAF. Without you guys, there would be no Congressional Internship program; I am forever in your debt. Second, a huge thanks and hug to everyone at AAPD. I thought I would feel out of place as an intern without a visible disability, but you welcomed us all the same. That is a wonderful feeling I cannot put into words. Third, thanks to the staff in Congressman Paul Ryan’s office, I learned a great deal of things from you. Some are applicable to my professional life, and some just applicable to life in general, but all are amazing. Last, but certainly not least, a huge thank you to my wonderful intern colleagues. I learned a little bit from all of you, and I really hope that we keep in touch as an alumni class. Best wishes to all, Ericka

Washington DC, Looking Back and Looking Forward

I am back home now and getting some much needed relaxation. Besides relaxing I have also been catching up on updating the website that I created, We Connect Now, which I had less time to work on during the summer. I was excited that the We Connect Now website has been recently linked to by a group in Spain. I invite you all to check out the website at http://weconnectnow.wordpress.com/ While I miss Washington, DC, being able to sleep until Noon and then walk to the beach are not bad either. Oh why can’t summer last forever.

I definitely want to return to Washington, DC which is why I was excited last week when I got a call from Judith Heumann who is the Special Advisor for International Disability Rights at the U.S. Department of State. I was offered and have accepted a paid internship next summer with the State Department’s Special Adviser’s Office on International Disability Rights. I am looking forward to learning more about the rights of people with disabilities on an international level. I had the opportunity to hear Hillary Clinton speak this summer and was really inspired by her speech and am very motivated to have the chance to work at the State Department under her tenure as Secretary of State.

I want to thank again the AAPD for giving me the opportunity to come to Washington, DC this summer as part of their Congressional internship program. I also want to wish the best of luck to my fellow AAPD interns as we begin a new academic year and in all of their future endeavors.

End of Summer.

I have been home from DC for about a week and I have had plenty of down time reflect on this summer. It has been a while since my last blog post and I have a lot of things to share. So in the spirit of three blogs in one, I want to talk about all of the celebrations surrounding the ADA 20th Anniversary, my time in the office towards the end of the summer, and some reflections on what I learned and how this summer has effected my career aspirations.

The highlights from the anniversary week will perhaps be similar to the experiences of the other interns. I enjoyed the ADA party at the Hyatt the week before the anniversary. I spent the majority of the party walking around with my boss who was nice enough to introduce me to some tall trees in the disability community. I did not stay late for the band and dancing that others appeared to be enjoying, but from others who did stay, I heard great things.

I was then fortunate enough to make my second trip to the White House this summer for the actual Presidential celebration of the ADA. As many would agree, it was terribly hot out on the South Lawn. But none the less, I was extremely grateful to among many of the original champions of the ADA and to also see the President give a speech.

But the really important thing I wanted to share was how I wrote a statement for my Congressman regarding the ADA. On the day of the anniversary, my boss gave a speech on the House floor that I wrote for him. It was pretty neat seeing a Congressman read words that you put together on the House floor. The next day I grabbed a Congressional Record from the mail and had my Congressman autograph the page that had the statement.

And now I want to share some advice with future AAPD interns who might come across my blog. First off and foremost, get the metro rail discount. I for one, did not get it and I paid the price - literally. A good part of your pay check will go towards the Metro fares that it takes to get to work and also around the city on the free time. It was annoying how expensive it was so for next year, get the pass.

I also want to stress to future interns to really put yourself out there. Get out into the city and do your best to make friends with people in your office and also people in and around AAPD. Depending upon how your office atmosphere is, go ahead and make friends with the people in the office. If you are invited, play on the office softball team or go to a happy hour. For myself, the friendships that I made with the people in the office had to be on the biggest factors in whether or not I had a good office experience. Also, get to know the people at AAPD. Try to arrange lunches because the people at AAPD are totally supportive, invested and can be great resources for maximizing your internship experience and or developing your network.

As for myself, this past summer has so profoundly impacted me that I want to come back to DC next summer to do one more internship before I graduate and even potentially move out to DC to work and live after college. To anyone who is interested in working in government or coming out to DC, do know, that the AAPD internship is a door opening opportunity that will help make that dream come true.

Last One Blog

I learned so much while in D.C.! I saw so many people with so many different disabilities, and I learned about there are so many different disabilities than I thought. I made so many new friends, too! It was a wonderful experience for me, really awesome and I will never forget it! I took advantage of opportunity going to museums and so many events and learned about getting around DC, which really is easy because of the Metro system; it is easier to get around in DC by Metro than Chicago CTA (Chicago Transit Authority)!

I was so lucky to have this unique internship opportunity. I agree with Zoe because I too will definitely plan to keep in touch with everyone. I will plan to attend the AAPD events next year, but of course I don’t know where I will be. It is so wonderful opportunity for meeting people and social networking, and it is wonderful for the opportunity to learn and have new experience than I can remember and use for the future, like after I graduate college and have a job in the real world I will look back and think of my awesome experience in DC.

I want to say “thank you” to everyone- AAPD, and Department of Homeland Security (DHS); you are all wonderful people to me and I am so happy to meet each of you. Thank you for working with me and for hiring the interpreters for meetings when DSL was not working because of the Verizon problem. Thank you for the opportunity to meet President Obama- that was so awesome and so exciting!!

Finally, to all interns, I want to encourage you to work hard when you go back to school. Always keep your mind open to learn any new things and stay positive with you attitude because if you stay positive your attitude, you will learn. Good luck to everybody! Keep in touch! Hope to see you next year!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Five Things to Walk Away With

I’ve been home for one week and the fact that both my internship & my summer have just flown by are starting to sink in. Truly, I can’t imagine spending the summer of 2010 any other way than as a participant in AAPD’s Summer Congressional Internship Program in the office of Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin. While I could write & write & write about absolutely everything I’ve taken away from my experience, perhaps I can succinctly summarize just five for you:

1. Through AAPD, I’ve learned so much more about the disability justice movement- where it come from, who is a part of it and how I can become part of it, too. To paraphrase my amazing roommate, Amelia, disability is a unique way of living in the world, certainly not something one should be expected to compensate for. Truly, this is a cornerstone of the concept of disability justice, one that includes not just physical accessibility (though this is certainly crucial!) but examines how certain privileged ways of living, understanding, and communicating in the world are deemed to have potential while others are completely devalued to the point of stigmatization.

2. As I’ve written in past entries, I’ve found even stronger links between disability justice and reproductive justice. Ensuring individuals are able to make personal choices in this realm of their lives which they deem best for themselves includes recognition that a person with a disability has not given up their right to bodily autonomy. The current stigmatization of disability only perpetuates justification for forced sterilization, institutionalization, parents with disabilities losing custody of their children, and a culture of eugenics which still persists today.

3. To think beyond “disability policy”. As my mentor, Day Al-Mohamed mentioned to me, out of the thousands of positions within federal, state, and local government, only a tiny handful have “disability” as part of the title. If what we are fighting for is disability justice, we need folks on our side who know the ins & outs of health care, housing, employment, education, technological development, construction, you name it. There are many ways to be an advocate for people with disabilities regardless of what title one holds in one’s place of employment.

4. Just exactly how Congress works. Before my internship, I thought all I needed to know the technical steps a bill must take to become a law. It was from working on Capitol Hill that I learned the roles numerous individuals play in working together (or against each other) to draft, influence, mark-up, and pass a bill in Congress. Our nation’s legislative body and its policy-making process have become very much de-mystified in a way a textbook can’t convey.

5. How important professional networking is! Many of the opportunities which became available to me were made possible through a commitment to connecting with as many professionals as possible and more importantly, following up. Considering 80% of jobs are found through networking, this aspect became the most important part of my summer in Washington D.C. aside from my internship responsibilities. A congressional internship might possible brighten up your resume, but in the end, it’s all about making sure there are the right connections to make sure you get to where you want to go.

Thank you, AAPD for such a wonderful summer!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Thank You

Though my summer as an AAPD Congressional Intern in House Majority Leader Hoyer’s office and my time in DC have come to an end, I'm very appreciative for all the opportunities I had this summer. Living in DC was an incredible opportunity to enrich my understanding of politics and to appreciate cultural offerings available in DC. From attending the 20th Anniversary of the ADA celebration at the Whitehouse, viewing the Chester Dale Collection at the National Gallery of Art, seeing Van Gogh’s famous self-portrait, exploring the fossil, mineral, and gem stone exhibit at the Museum of Natural History, viewing the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution at the National Archives, or listening to Jazz in the Garden in the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden, DC’s a city full of adventure and opportunity. While the opportunity to take advantage of DC’s cultural offerings and to contribute to the political process as a Congressional intern has been an amazing experience, one of the most impactful experiences of the internship was getting to live with and know my fellow interns. To all of my fellow interns I’ve really enjoyed getting to know each and every one of you and I’m glad we got to share this experience together. Thank you to AAPD and MEAF for making this summer possible. And thank you to my mentor Andrew Morris for being such a great mentor.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Work Connections

I think I said my thank yous last post, but I suppose gratitude is good for the soul.
And I have a lot to be grateful for. I must confess though that I was pretty spacey getting ready to go home. It has been so busy at work, and I had been putting all my energy into getting ready to pack and getting up ready with the coffee to help out with things at the help desk, that I have not slept well the past week. This is probably why, the last day of work, I couldn't find my purse. I double-checked everywhere I had went. Other people helped me look and told security. Even the janitors looked in the garbage. I had to tell my boss and cancel my credit cards. I was worried I wouldn't have an ID to get on the plane the next day, but remembered I had my passport that I didn't keep with my purse. People stayed late and gave me lots of sympathetic hugs and we all walked down to the parking lot together. My boss drove me home so I could get a spare key and get into the apartment. She bought me dinner and made sure I was alright. Somebody at work gave me five dollars, which I used on transportation as my bus pass lasted exactly to that morning. The next day it was good to have something like work to go to to keep my mind off worries. I did flash passes in the Help Desk, and said goodbye to all the people who have taught me so much about wireless and configuring laptops. More hugs. More goodbyes. Met the help desk supervisors two little boys and talked about our common interest in Sponge Bob Squarepants. In the afternoon two women and a little girl walked into the help desk. I was in shock because one was carrying my purse. More hugs, and after a moment of absorption, thank yous. The little girl visiting her mother had spotted it behind a chair in the upstairs conference room where we had had a goodbye party for another person and sort of me. My dad says people really like to help me, and I've got to say sometimes it takes a village to get us through life's transitions. I am grateful to AAPD and Microsoft for giving us a paid opportunity to test out our learned computer skills in a hands-on job. Also for letting me meet the people I talked and worked with who expanded the extent of my friendships. It was a stretch that last couple of days, but I loved my coworkers and admired their trust in each other. Home has its own stresses too but I think I can face them better for this experience. Hasta luego.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

And so it ends

I am currently sitting safely in my room in Chicago, away from the hustle and bustle of D.C. and ya know, I miss it. Granted there are way too many politicians for me, but there is also a lot of amazing innovation as far as technology goes. It was amazing to be a part of that for the summer and to learn key things about myself and the business world. One of the most important things I learned this summer was how to make business connections. AAPD gave me lots of information and support on doing this, and I am very grateful for that… as my father sometimes tells me “It’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know”. Granted this isn’t an amazing quote, but now I feel it means that you could know everything in the world, but you won’t get anywhere unless you make connections and are discovered.
One of the best parts of D.C was one of my roommates, Justin. We seemed to have a lot in common and spent a lot of time discussing issues and how the world works. Since he is about 12 years older than me he had a lot to teach me, and I feel I changed a lot as a person thanks to him. It was nice to come home after a long day and DJ with him all night (take turns sharing music). I was introduced to a lot of really cool bands and songs, and I’m sure he was too.
I suppose when it boils down to it, we all have something to share. The most important thing we should learn is how to expand our networks so we can change the world, and that’s what I’ve learned to do.

Friday, August 6, 2010

One last post...

So…we've reached the last blog post. Like I said before, my internship has just flown by. I’ve loved exploring D.C. and getting to know the disability community this summer. I think my eyes have been opened to the strength and unity of our extremely diverse community, and what we can do when we work together to create change. Most of the summer has been busy busy busy, but this week things have been winding down. Yesterday, after some teamwork with the other interns and staff to move some things around in the office, we had an ice cream party as a sort of goodbye event for the office interns. We had a fantastic time, and Margaret, our office manager, brought some of the most delicious ice cream toppings I have ever had. We all sat in the conference room, eating ice cream and looking back at the summer, talking about what we got out of our internships. I’m really going to miss all the AAPD staff – I think the office environment here is a unique one, and it really does feel like a family. This morning, my supervisor Jenifer came into the office with amazing news – S. 3304, which would drastically improve technology and video accessibility, passed the Senate late last night!! Jenifer has been working on this bill for years, and I’m so excited it finally passed. What a perfect way to end my internship. It’s been such an honor to work at AAPD this summer, and I feel so lucky to have had this amazing internship opportunity. It’s been wonderful getting to know all of you. I definitely plan to stay in touch with everyone here, and I hope many of the interns will do the same!

Lead on,

Life is a Career, A Career is Adventure

Life is a career, a career is adventure, adventure is to always improve and no matter what happens, never give up. My career growth tells no tales, the AAPD has taught me the meaning of being successful. I have reached another level, I am more experienced I aim for higher goals.

The AAPD contributed so much to helping me achieve my goals. They provided many events that helped me gain invaluable experience. I really appreciated learning from corporate leaders such as Microsoft, Google, and government leaders. Their speeches educated us on disability networking. I am now able to provide Section 508 accessibility through my technical skills. I appreciate the way leaders fought to get us disability rights. Equality helps spread goodwill and knowledge to the rest of the world. I applaud the AAPD for providing the best internship program that every student should have in their lifetime.

Most notably, I gained insight into my technical skills in .NET and SharePoint with the United States Department of Agriculture. My co-worker, my mentor taught me how to become a better programmer. There's always a solution for a programming problem, keep trying, never give up. For Microsoft SharePoint, I learned how to manage websites for other users, act as a administrator, and perform record management duties.

Not only did I improve my technical skills I increased my creativity in social networking and design. I learned more about needs assessment, how to identify a problem or spot any communication barriers that prevents me from completing the objective without mistakes. It enabled me to communicate with people more efficiently. I also managed to design logo's for the branch that were professional and accepted.

Being open to different projects allowed me to expand my skills and knowledge above all areas available. My job was more than programming. Contributing more is what makes a job exciting.

This last Intern blog post is the place to express my gratitude. My mentors advice was very valuable. One day I will become a mentor to provide assistance to others; I will be sure to give credit so you will be remembered. My boss was very patient, he always had time for me. My co-worker, you taught me how to eat healthier. In addition to everyone who helped me, I wish you continuous success.

Microsoft's generosity won't go unheard, they have funded my Internship program. It is a extraordinary, memorable gift. This experience was very special. My words alone cannot express how thankful I am. AAPD and Microsoft have my utmost respect and gratitude.

My AAPD Microsoft-IT internship the USDA has come to an end. It's only the beginning for me to contribute my work to help society connect jointly to build a healthier ever-changing world.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Final Week, Home At Last

Hello everyone,

I'm writing this from my home, having finally arrived back home after a 9 hour drive last night. On my final note as an AAPD Intern, I want to thank anyone and everyone who helped us achieve the success we did during the summer in DC. Thanks!!!!!! :)

I was sad to leave DC; the city has really grown on me. On the other hand, i'm glad to be back home. College classes are picking back up in a few weeks, and i'm really motivated to finish college now and get back into the work force. Government contracting or private consulting are the two most promising avenues in my future, and now I have a higher drive to accomplish my goals based on my experiences working for the US government.

It's getting pretty late, and I suppose this is my final farewell on the blog.

So goodnight to all, and best wishes towards the future,

Signing off one last time,

Ron S. Nunes


Week Eleven
This week was amazingly was INSANE!!! I had to have all my 200+ lbs of personal items ready for shipment by Wednesday at 11:00 AM for FED EX pick up. My final project, a report from the 2700+ emails and comments from the Dairy Advisory Committee using the new Public Comment Analysis Toolkit (PCAT) was due was due on my supervisor’s Desk for review no later than Thursday afternoon. I had many people I needed to still thank for their continued assistance mentoring and providing technical and emotional support to me throughout the summer. I had to have my apartment clean and ready for move out inspection before leaving on Saturday. I had 5 lunch functions at work to attend this week. I was scheduled for 10 hours of tours scheduled with my mentors at the USDA to see the many museums and government buildings I had not yet had a chance to visit. I had to operate the lighting and special FX for Black Play Festival at Busboy’s and Poets (under the Direction of Eric Humphrey) and had to finalize a timed out story board synchronized to the sound effects. I had to fill out my Virtual Intern Program (VIP) so that I could continue my work not yet complete for the USDA AMS by Thursday so that my boss could get it submitted and signed before I left town. I had my exit interview with AAPD, and with the USDA Agriculture Marketing Service. HOW did I fit so much into one week??? I really don’t know but I’m amazed and proud of myself, and have a new feeling of confidence for all this week’s trials and tribulations and I think I am a MUCH stronger individual with an amazing new ability to juggle a very busy schedule 
Justin Patterson
Sarah Peterson
Andy Imparato
Chad Carson
David Hale
And the ENTIRE AAPD office and intern Group for all the support and assistance this summer!!!
You have made my first summer away from home SO enjoyable, fun and offered me a chance to improve myself in so many ways…THANK YOU!

Final Week and Quotes

I was not sure would get through this week. I guess one more day to go. I was about done in by saying goodbyes and trying to balance a feeling of nervous energy with plain nervousness. I sent an email to everybody and people responded back with many warm wishes. I had lunch with the CIO on Tuesday as well as visiting Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, the representative from my state of Washington, who Is a disability advocate. Today we had a goodbye party for Dennis, and a birthday party for the 11 people from July and August. I felt was involved in too many conversations and told my spiel about what would study many times. I warmed to my subject though and felt just small talk was soothing. I had sandwiches at the first one and then cake and ice cream. I want to get home and get a more healthy routine. I think I may have a hard road to travel to get fitter. I plan to walk into town every weekday especially to the farmer’s market. I also plan to continue my yoga which I have kept up here. I will also just relax until school starts, on September 15, other than filling out my financial aid paperwork. I plan on taking some fun class too not just computers. I am also looking forward just to getting back home for a vacation of sorts in the Seattle area. I will garden and eat the fruits of my labor, relax and read all the good books I bought here. I am grateful for friendly coworkers and fellow interns but also for some time to be my true introverted self. I will end with some quotes because they express the mix of feelings I have right now.

Blessed is the man, who having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact.
George Eliot

And when a woman's will is as strong as the man's who wants to govern her, half her strength must be concealment.
George Eliot

But what we call our despair is often only the painful eagerness of unfed hope.
George Eliot

Through all things, keep your smile, your integrity, and your hope.
Jay Thompson, coworker

Last Week of Internship

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

Monday (August 2, 2010): I was very furious with how the internship process goes in the United States Coast Guard because I was walking to my building and have to use the badge to enter the building then I cannot get in the security thing, then I discover that my badge was expired. I have to give the security officers my driver license to require the visitor badge, and then I have to go through the security clearness to make sure that I am clear. I do not know why I am furious about it but it was waste of my time. Then I went to get the badge that last till August 30, 2010 then I return the visitor badge back to security officers and went to my office to begin my work and complete my first day of last week of the internship. When I begin my work, my yeoman, Sandra asked me to search for websites regarding old units by USCG (United States Coast Guard) and make sure that the webmaster updated the information to Commander Units for the United States Coast Guard.

Tuesday (August 3, 2010): Second day of the internship, it was very interesting because I been relaxing and trying to find something to do to keep myself by reading technology news. I was reading about the social networking, Facebook gain more usage time from American because they spend less time doing the emails, instant messaging, and others. I do think that most of the people need to stop relaying on technology but technology make our lives much easier but at same time, I think that Americans needs to stop using Facebook as hobby but in my personal opinion, I do like Facebook, to keep in touch with my friends and my family which is they don’t have an instant messaging or an email. Then I received the work, I had to search for old files on CG (Coast Guard) website to see if they have the current unit but if no, I have to record it to inform the webmaster to update the file to current unit if they think the files are more important for their agency.

Wednesday (August 4, 2010): Third day of the internship, I received the email from my Chief Warrant Officer, she wants to say that she enjoyed working with me while I am at the United States Coast Guard, and I hope that I get the opportunity to work for the United States Coast Guard. Also, I do not want to leave because I like the load of works and meeting employees but I also happy that I am leaving because I do not need to get up early and drive from my apartment to work with load of traffic and load of crowded people. Also I received the award from my agency for appreciation. And Happy Birthday USCG!

Thursday (August 5, 2010): Fourth day of the internship, there isn’t much of things that I can do for the agency because they seem motivate to learn on their own because I accomplish the mission for them and guide them to the point where they can learn and use the skills to apply on their job tasks. I am really glad that they really enjoy my work accomplishments.

Friday (August 6, 2010): Last day of the internship, there is nothing to say about this day because it is my last day of internship. See you all in the future and thank you for your patience and time to read my blogs and other interns’ blogs.

Quotes for one more time,

· All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them. Walt Disney

· Bill Gates is a very rich man today... and do you want to know why? The answer is one word: versions. Dave Barry

· Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom. Thomas Jefferson

· Bill Gates is the pope of the personal computer industry. He decides who's going to build. Larry Ellison

Kevin Whetstone is signing out,

Have a wonderful weekend and the future till we meet again.
My email address is kevin.whetstone.aapd@gmail.com if you have any questions.

For my class of 2010 AAPD Interns: I am going to miss you guys, thank you for the best internship and I hope that I am going to see you guys in the future.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Week 9: More Than I Can Say

Week 9 was more than I can say. I attended the National Council on Disability Summit on Policy, the ADA Anniversary event at the White House, the Disability Power and Pride Gala, and many other events. I even had the opportunity to shake hands with the President. All the while, it was also an awesome and exciting week at work. The week didn't end with just work, though. I went to a social on Friday night on the rooftop of my Chief of Staff's building with my office and three other offices. I had an amazing time hanging out with new friends, eating BBQ, and listening to music. The rooftop also had a great view of the Capitol and the Washington Monument. Saturday and Sunday I had two friends in town, so it was only right that we went to the Phillies games on both days since they were playing the Nats. They won 1/3, but we were minus three star players. NO BIG DEAL. Ha ha. Needless to say, I was pretty exhausted by Sunday night so it was a good segue into AUGUST RECESS.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Historical Moment

What an incredible, historical week to be in DC and to witness the celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the ADA. Witnessing President Obama signing an Executive Order mandating increased employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities within the federal government was a rare and fortunate opportunity. The gravity of the moment and the knowledge that I was watching opportunities become realities before my eyes instilled me with a surreal feeling of hope and wonder. The fact that we enjoyed witnessing President Obama sign an Executive Order, a moment that will forever be recorded in history led me to ponder how frequently people recognize that their taking part in a historical moment. Earlier this summer I had the opportunity to attend the BP Oil Spill hearing and listen to BP CEO Tony Hayward and to witness General David Petraeus testify in front of the Senate Foreign Affairs Sub-Committee. Though I recognized the historical significance of the hearings and President Obama’s signing of the Executive Order mandating increased employment opportunities for people with disabilities it also led me to consider the frequency with which individuals are aware of the historical significance of the events taking place. I’ve learned this summer through my internship that the American Public is incredibly adept at staying informed.

An Anniversary to Remember

“It was ability that mattered, not disability, which is a word I’m not crazy about using.” –Marlee Matlin

This week I had the opportunity to attend a White House function for the anniversary of the passing of the ADA. The day was hot and muggy, but the excitement in the air was palpable. Approximately 400 guests had come out to see President Obama speak about the 20 years of the ADA and what was yet to come. We waited in anticipation while various speakers and entertainers preceded Mr. Obama. Among those present were Pattie LaBelle, Robert David Hall, and the woman I quoted above, Marlee Matlin. After much ado, the President himself spoke to the audience. He cited the legislation that has shaped the past 20 years for Americans with Disabilities, and he went on to expand upon the issues our community still faces, including high unemployment rates. After speaking about this problem, Obama then held a short ceremony in which he signed an Executive Order which established the federal government as a model employer of persons with disabilities. While this is a grand gesture of welcome to the disability community, I am not sure if it is quite enough to get the rest of America to follow suit. I have seen for myself that our federal government has gone to great lengths to hire individuals with disabilities in DC, and I certainly appreciate their efforts, but not everyone has skills or an interest that is applicable to Washington, DC. I really hope that private corporations and small businesses will take Washington’s lead and learn from it.
Later that evening, the Disability Power and Pride organization held a gala celebrating the 20th anniversary of the ADA as well. Jonathan Young was generous enough to sponsor tickets for each of the AAPD interns and intern alums who are still in DC. I really appreciate his graciousness because I would not have had the opportunity to attend this function without his support. Quite a few people spoke at this event also, among them were Tony Coelho, Congressman Sensenbrenner, Congressman Hoyer, and Congressman Langevin. Afterwards, live music was provided for the guests’ entertainment. This was the last formal event that all of the AAPD interns attended together, and I think it was a great way to wrap up the summer. I certainly know that these past couple weeks surrounding the ADA anniversary have taught me a lot about the disability community as a whole, and I am very proud to say that I am a member of this vast group. Until next time,

Lead On!

As others have echoed before me, these past two weeks have been an absolute whirlwind. The AAPD/NCIL event was an absolute blast- I got to re-connect with some individuals I’ve met this summer as well as network with some new folks, including several who work in Boston where I live. Not to mention dancing up a storm with the other AAPD interns & staff! Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin & several members of her staff attended the AAPD/JFA event on Capitol Hill the following day, which was a huge honor. It shows how I am valued as part of the office team. Afterward, we had dinner with the Honorable Tony Coelho, the current AAPD Board Chair. It was incredible to be able to hear about his political experience firsthand- such as working on Al Gore’s 2000 Presidential campaign.

And of course meeting President Obama was something I will never forget. As I was able to briefly mention to him, as a member of the “ADA Generation”, his administration’s commitment to strengthening & implementing the ADA means a lot to me. While we certainly have a long way to go in order to ensure justice for all- there are too many public accommodations yet to be made fully accessible, too many businesses unaware of the accommodations they are required to have in place by law- I’m glad we were able to take this week to pat ourselves on the back for the progress we HAVE made. As someone who was born the year before the ADA was signed into law, I am quite privileged to have grown up at a time where its important mandates had just come into existence. The way older members of the disability justice movement talk of the era before the ADA, I know just how much of an impact it has had. As long as we continue finding way to advocate, to think independently, to always be ready to make noise when there is injustice, to “connect the dots” in crucial ways (such as the devastating link between disability & poverty), to take risks & hold our leaders accountable, I know we will prevail. As a younger individual, I greatly admire those disability justice activists who came before me, who worked for change & rewards they knew they may not live to reap themselves. This summer has empowered me to continue developing my leadership skills so that I can do my part to keep this movement sustainable, one that includes those from all sides of the aisle. Or as the late Justin Dart might say, “Lead on!”

Where did my internship go?

I can’t believe this internship is almost over. This has been an amazing experience, and I’m definitely going to miss it when I go back to school. Last week was the culmination of all the ADA anniversary events, and the actual anniversary on Monday was packed with activities. In the morning, we went to a press conference on Capitol Hill held by Senator Tom Harkin and Congressmen Steny Hoyer, Jim Langevin, and Jim Sensenbrenner. Tony Coelho and Andy Imparato also spoke. After the press conference, we hurried over to another event on the Hill, a panel discussion led by Senator Harkin. Later in the day, after work was over, several of us from the office watched AAPD’s Indy Imparato and Intern Amelia Wallrich (great job, Amelia!) on PBS’s News Hour. They did a great job speaking about the current state of people with disabilities in America. The Power and Pride Gala that night was a lot of fun as well. I met several new people from the disability community, and the slate of speakers was impressive as usual. I especially enjoyed hearing from Marlee Matlin, a deaf actress, and Laurie Rubin, an opera singer who is blind. On Thursday, I went to a birthday party held at the Capitol for Medicaid and Medicare’s 45th birthday. Friday had a couple of intern events: a brownbag at the Access Board, and a behind-the-scenes tour at the Smithsonian of an upcoming disability history exhibit. This was especially interesting for me – we got to see early prosthetic limbs, an ear trumpet, a chunk of concrete from a “do-it-yourself curb cut” protest in Denver, a Barbie doll that uses a wheelchair, and several other artifacts. It was also pretty cool to see how an exhibit gets put together. Anyway, I just have the rest of this week, and then I’ll be leaving AAPD. I’ll probably be writing one more entry before I leave, so I’ll talk more then!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Week 10

This past week has incredible; the chance to go to the white and see the President in person was a great experience because we got to see his commitment to the disabilities movement first hand. The week has been stressful for me because all of the board members of the access board came into town to celebrate the 20 anniversary of the ADA but also for a board meeting on our new 8th floor meeting space. The 8th floor is done but we still have a few bugs to work out but that’s no problem I worked the audio video portion of the meetings with my boss Charles and learned a whole about A/V work and how to trouble shoot problems on the fly. We had meeting Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday so it was a hectic week. Since the meeting space is new Charles and I were down there to make sure that everything went smoothly as possible, and since its new equipment were kind of partial as to who handles it because we don’t want it getting messed up in the first couple of weeks of have the meeting space completed . This coming up week I am going to put the finishing touches on the inventory server and put it on the network and make sure that there are no major problems, and I am also do audio/video for a meeting on Thursday on the 8th floor.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Week of the ADA’s 20th Anniversary

It was an exciting time to be in Washington, DC this past week for the Twentieth Anniversary of passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (the ADA). The ADA is the most important piece of civil rights legislation affecting people with disabilities to be passed in the U.S. to date. Reviewing articles on the history behind the ADA and its passage and looking on the Internet regarding demonstrations that took place before the passage of the legislation, I was impressed by a vivid photo I saw of people with mobility impairments shedding their wheelchairs and participating in a crawl-in up the steps of the U.S. Capitol to bring to the public’s consciousness the urgent need to guarantee the access of all citizens in a democracy to their places of government. That photo reminded me of other famous images of the civil rights movement from the 1960’s of the children in Birmingham being thrown back by the force of water hoses and that of a young John Lewis as a Freedom Rider being beaten bloody and unconscious in Montgomery where the public sees those images and realizes that something really has to change.

People commemorated the 20th anniversary of the ADA in many ways. I had the opportunity to be at the White House to see President Barack Obama speak of the importance of the ADA to our nation and then sign an executive order to help increase the number of people with disabilities hired in the federal workplace. There were parades and picnics and speeches and dances and barbeques in which people across the country celebrated the anniversary of the ADA and the progress we have made so far in facilitating access to services and programs to people with disabilities, although much more needs to be done to fully integrate people with disabilities into the economy and society. One of the favorite images that I saw of people celebrating the ADA was of nearly 200 wheelchair users smiling and coming together in Los Angeles in an event organized by the Christopher and Dana Reeves Foundation to form the longest moving wheelchair formation in order to set a new world record. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/26/wheelchair-formation-brea_n_659402.html
I thought this happy image was a nice contrast to that of the photo of the activists crawling up the Capitol Steps without their wheelchairs to try to put pressure on for passage of the ADA. Without the first we would not have likely had the second.

Internship Blog for Week Ten

Wow! This has been an absolutely awesome experience with AAPD! My best memory is meeting President Obama and shaking hands with him; oh wow that was my number one most awesome experience! I enjoyed meeting different people and networking with people who have different disabilities than I; I did learn so much about other disabilities.

I wanted to say to everyone (AAPD Interns) congratulations that you are almost done with your internship and you will become an AAPD Alumni!

I was very busy last few days, working with co-workers and attending meetings on the conference call. My POC or team invited me go to the other building for the ITSO (Information Technology Services Office) quarterly all hands meeting. I did go and it was good; they had there some treats to eat, that's ALWAYS good! I was meeting some new people there, too.

I can’t believe that my internship is almost done-next week Friday is the end; time goes so fast! I have grown many ways; I learned as a professional how to look things from all perspectives. My problem solving skills did improve because I learned to ask how to troubleshooting any problem but ask last because I try myself first.

I wanted to say good luck to everyone going back to school and keep focus on your courses. Don’t forget to tell everyone that you strongly recommend any college student take advantage and participate, if possible. I strongly feel AAPD is a “must do” for any disabled person, just you need open mind and want to learn.

It is really a very awesome experience and great chance for learning, meeting professional people that have different disabilities and experience "real world".

Finally, I want to say a BIG THANK YOU to AAPD. I really did learn a lot and enjoy very much. Thank you.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Week Ten

Week Ten
This week was amazingly stressful, but very rewarding. I began finalizing my presentations for the Public Comment Analysis Toolkit this week. Wednesday was my first presentation hosted for the CIOs of the USDA who attended to get a taste of the new software platform soon to be released to the government and public. We had the creator and a liaison from Regulations dot Gov conference call in to offer their knowledge of how this toolkit could save the government time and resources analyzing the comments and complaints the receive. I was there to offer my testimonial of my experience implanting PCAT into the Dairy agency of the USDA. I also got to promote my video training tutorial I have created to train the government offices how to code PCAT without the need of humans to do the training. It was a major success which leads to a follow up hands on registration and demonstration of PCAT the following day with members interested in becoming users of the toolkit. Dr. Schulman (Developer of PCAT) showed the new features he has been incorporating into PCAT that soon will be available to the users. Next Friday was my opportunity to raise awareness for PCAT at the people’s garden in front of the farmers market. I Prepared chicken nachos to feed all who attended the presentation, and my supervisor purchased Kettle corn to share the attendees, I again explained my involvement in the PCAT collaboration team, gave testimonial of how PCAT has helped the USDA organize our comments to secretary of agriculture Vilsack, and offer my tutorial to the government agencies interested in becoming part of the collaboration team. Everyone LOVED the nachos and asked for the recipe  I was then invited to the Access Board to conduct a similar live demonstration with Dr. Schulman showing how PCAT could allow them to analyze their comments, complaints, and concern letters and gave a demonstration of the auto report generation feature that PCAT has programmed into it for creating Spread sheets, Rich Text Formatted documents, HTML web pages for posting on the web, and XML coding reports to incorporate between databases without the knowledge of writing code for the different files. Did I mention I was moonlighting with the director of a play to create a lighting scheme, special effects and audio timeline for the Black Play Festival at Bus Boys a local performance diner? Yes it was a busy week but very fun, once it was over. I also met with Damon Wandke to brainstorm a disability youth council to promote and educate the future disabled leaders of America with the little spare free time I had this week. I’m tired, but life is GREAT!!!
Justin Patterson

Friday, July 30, 2010

Summer Highlights

Me at White House
• What are the very best experiences you remember most readily
about your summer here?
I remember warm-hearted welcome of co-workers esp Kimberly, Deanna, Terri,
Andrea, Val B, Harold, Mike, and Cozette and several others. I
remember getting told how to get places by Mike and Ron. I remember
being invited to join coffee clubs, birthday clubs, eat chocolate, and given fun
magazines. I remember getting to get off work early with my supervisor’s permission on Mondays and Tuesdays to go to sign language class, and the old 80s songs he signed to, and professions and animals, and doing the signs for food when was getting hungry for dinner. I remember being
able to use every scrap I'd learned and trying to practice on the 2
Davids and Anwar, who did understand some sign but lip read mainly. David C
is very chivalrous and also listened to all my attempts at sign, and Anwar taught me more about communicating with a deaf or hard-of-hearing person.
I also enjoyed going to church Sundays at a little town in Georgetown, the dog that took communion, visiting the little restaurants and big bookstores and the homeless people who didn't bug me for money but sat patient in the muggy alleys. I remember buying and reading Street Sense and other papers and reading them, unusual for me.

At work, I learned about communicating with others but also how to work more effectively with my own disability. I guess this is a little self-absorbed, but I was inspired to work
harder with my own obstacles, because I saw people who had more severe
physical ailments being capable workers and solving their
computer-related tasks. I admired Matt McCullough for being an
activist and choosing that despite his corporate experience and
talents. Other people also like Daman Wandke took time out of their
busy schedules to teach me new skills. I learned a lot about
disability activism from both these people. Daman also helped me with suggestions for accommodations at school and in future work that might help overcome a learning disability. Another accomplishment was at work, with the help of coworkers.
Since the very first day I came to work, and Terry and Deanna warmly
welcomed me and I was able to be honest that I had a learning
disability, I had a personal breakthrough, in that I started thinking
truly and regularly about what kinds of accomodations such as tape recorders or notetakers would help. The last two, going on 3 weeks, I have both worked with Terri, the accessibility consultant, following her to see job duties and also trying out adaptive technology to see how it works. I have also worked in the Help Desk, as Deanna suggested I do. I am not sure I can adjust to the fast-paced tech support arena, but I will at least have a good couple of weeks where I shadowed in dealing with same/different
people, having productive conversations, advising and teaching, installing etc.

Amazing Week

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen, I hope that you have a good week but I am sure that I did because of many things happening this week. Before I start to explain my five days of advantages in Washington DC, I want to say with my deeply heart, thank you for people who helped congress to pass the important law, American with Disabilities Act because I can’t believe how much of freedom that I can get from my workplace, but if ADA law haven’t passed, I might not get what I get for this country. Anyway, let’s start with my interesting days:

Monday (July 26, 2010): I was working till noon then I went to my apartment to relax and getting ready for White House, but I thought that AAPD interns will able to talk with President Obama but we did not meet the President Obama, however, we did see him while he was giving the speech for people with disabilities and other things. Also, I get a chance to meet him and shake his hand when he was shaking people’s hand in the first row, I was sitting in fourth row and got through to first row to able to shake his hand. Also, I met the future NAD (National Association for Deaf) CEO for April, since the current one will retire this upcoming year. Also, I also get the chance to see Joe Biden (Vice-President) but he was talking to someone. Also, I saw Marlee Matlin, she went to my college recently but the students at my college needs to pay 10 dollars to take a picture with her but I did get a picture but don’t have to pay 10 dollars which is AWESOME! After the White House, I decide to go back to apartment with one of my friends to pick up the tickets and I can able to attend to Gala, I saw my mentor, and important people who are also hearing impaired or deaf. Then I watch the speeches by Tony Coelho, and others. Then I got lost in the city but I find my way back to my apartment and I was very exhausted on that night because of many of events and people that I need to meet or want to meet.

Tuesday (July 27, 2010): I was working till 345pm because I able to met another deaf professional (or you may call another deaf employee) who also work for USCG (United States Coast Guard), his name is Jeff Paden, he is working for USCG for 21 years and will be 22 years, it was a great chance to meet him but I was disappointed that he graduated from Gallaudet, because I am not a big fan of Gallaudet because of many reasons but I do respect that college and Gallaudet is not a place for me because of my family background and I do not feel fit to that college but I do feel fit to my college, Rochester Institute of Technology because there are two worlds in that college with different background of people, also there are a lot of deaf people but with another kind of disability. But anyway, after my work, I went out with my roommate & friend to meet Marc Langerman, he work with my agency but different department, we had a good dinner, I went to Chinatown for some Chinese foods. Then we went back to our apartment afterward and another day being so exhausted.

Wednesday (July 28, 2010): It was relaxing day for me because I was working till end of the time but I discover that I had a problem with PowerPoint presentation but I helped my CWO (Chief Warrant Officer) Hope with her problem with PowerPoint presentation, something different from working with Database but I fixed it and she was all happy till my another co-worker has another problem, I assume I need to learn more about how to overcome the problem when I had a hard time troubleshooting with PowerPoint, something different from what I learn in school because there are always different types of problems where my professors can’t solve but again, I really like to learn new things every day.

Thursday (July 29, 2010): It was very quiet and relaxing at my workplace because there is nothing to do except I had a meeting with my AAPD staff (may I call her my boss, Sarah Peterson? Ha-ha), anyway, the meeting was about how do I like my internship, suggestions, feedback, etc. It was a great experience to work with her and other AAPD staffs along with class of AAPD interns this year.

Friday (July 30, 2010): There is nothing to say about this day because Friday is mostly day for people to settled down with overload of work but there is a event that AAPD hosting for but I might can’t make it but I also want to say Thank you for a lot of support through this summer. I want to keep in touch with AAPD staffs, and of course, with AAPD interns.

In closing, there is one more week of internship left and I may start my thank-you letters to everyone that I met and talk with during this summer, only 5 more days of internship then I will be Alumni for this internship.

Here are five quotes before I am going to sign-out for this week blog:
· When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.
o Victor Frankl
· “Sometimes you put walls up not to keep people out, but to see who cares enough to break them down.”
· We are driven by five genetic needs: survival, love and belonging, power, freedom, and fun.
o William Glasser
· For me, disability is a way of getting some extremity, some kind of very difficult situation that throws an interesting light on people.
o Mark Haddon
· “The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.”
o Morrie Schwartz

That is all Ladies and Gentlemen, have a lovely weekend and be careful :-)

Week Nine - Memorable Adventure

The most important day of this week was Monday, and it is the day that I won't forget. I attended the White House with the other Interns. I watched Obama sign the executive order to increase employment for people with disabilities. I am so thankful for this because the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is quite high.

There will always be lack of accessibility for someone when an event takes place. I wish the White House had accessibility for everyone, they only had interpreters but they did not have closed captioning service. I had to watch the interpreter and I did not understand most of the speech. This is how I live my life, I don't depend on closed captioning but it is a necessary.

After the White House, I attended to the Disability Power & Pride event to celebrate the ADA Anniversary. It was crowded. I did not participate in a lot of conversations. I had a good time. They had closed captions during the speech so that's good news. There were a lot of applause and appreciation from important leaders who played big roles twenty years ago and today about the ADA.

From the speech, I really appreciate Mr. Coelho for reminding me that the United States has never fulfilled their promise in equality. The Declaration of Independence has only helped a few but many were left out. I agree that we should not wait for a hundred years to achieve equal rights for people with disabilities and everyone else.

If there was a scenario where everyone has achieved equal rights, I question myself, how long would it last? I can only dream that civilization continues to show kindness and goodwill for the next thousands years.

One more week until my internship ends, It is time for me to sign off and prepare for the Thank-you letters.

Knock on the sky and Listen to the sound. ~ Zen Proverb

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

NCIL, AAPD, JFA oh my!!!

Where did this week go?!?! This past week was certainly a whirlwind of exciting and inspiring events. On Tuesday night, NCIL and AAPD co-hosted an event called the “Spirit of the ADA…Lead On!” At this event, leaders such as Tony Coelho, Majority Leader Hoyer, Congressman Sensenbrenner, Congressman Patrick Kennedy, and Ted Kennedy Jr. spoke. Later in the evening, a musical group performed whose members all had disabilities. Throughout the night, I had the opportunity to meet both Patrick and Ted Kennedy Jr. along with many other active leaders within our community. The atmosphere in the room was one of excitement and enjoyment. I think that it was a great experience to have all of these people with disabilities come together in one celebratory event to commemorate the ADA’s triumphs, but the fun of the week did not stop there.
On Wednesday afternoon, AAPD hosted their Justice for All Awards event in the Cannon Caucus room. AAPD used this opportunity to recognize those champions that helped to shape and mold the ADA into what it is today. Again, Tony Coelho and both of the Kennedy’s spoke. Our own distinguished leader, Andy Imparato also presented an award. Among the award recipients were Congressman Weicker and author Edwin Black. I was especially interested in learning more about Mr. Black’s book War against the Weak which details the eugenics movement within America. Because of learning about this novel through the event, I actually ended up picking it up from Border’s this past weekend. So far, it is immensely interesting.
After the JFA awards event, some of the congressional and IT interns had the opportunity to join Tony Coelho for dinner at Tortilla Coast. This event was not as formal as the other events, but instead an evening for the interns to once again catch up with each other and ask questions of Mr. Coelho. I learned a lot from listening to him speak about his role in the Gore campaign as well as being the original author of the ADA. I truly appreciate Mr. Coelho for taking time out of his day to meet with us.
On Thursday, there were no AAPD sponsored events that I attended; however, I did attend a committee hearing. The Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties held a hearing reviewing the twenty years of the ADA. I had an opportunity to attend part of this hearing which had four panels of speakers. The main purpose of the hearing was to honor the 20th anniversary of the ADA as well as review the civil rights legislation to make sure it was working in an appropriate manner. I thought that the Subcommittee did a wonderful job of honoring those people who have devoted their lives to this cause as well as taking into consideration the struggles our communities still face.
Besides all of the events, we all still had to go into our offices everyday. I kept myself busy in the office by attending a couple other hearings on the Defense Budget and Treating Rare and Neglected Pediatric Diseases. With everything going on, I know I was very welcoming of the weekend. I was very happy to get a chance to relax, but I also took advantage of my mentor being in town for a short while. Cheryl and I went out to brunch and shopping on both Saturday and Sunday. It was really nice to spend a bit of time with her and catch up.
Overall, this past week has been exciting and fun, but I certainly welcome everything starting to wind down. More next week!!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Week 8: Lead On

So, it was quite a busy week for myself and the other AAPD Interns. However, it was truly a privilege to attend events where our nation's leaders came together for a single cause to push the movement forward for the advancement of people with disabilities. The leaders ran the gamut: there were Congressman, family and friends of disabled people, and people with disabilities themselves that have made great sacrifices to accomplish all that we have. It made me especially happy and proud to work for such a wonderful Congresswoman when my boss spoke at many of the ADA events. Her dedication to the cause is unwavering and encouraging. I also work under an incredible LD that helped pushed the movement forward as well. It's been an honor to serve in such a special office. Seeing the tremendous leadership behind the cause inspires me to be the best representative of the community I can be, and to apply that same leadership to all that I do in life. By listening to the speeches given by the leaders of the movement, they breathe life into the cause, inspiring many, including myself, across the country.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Happy Birthday ADA

Happy 20th Birthday ADA!

I can write about how amazing this week was but anything I will say would be an understatement. It would be too difficult to describe all the emotion, excitement and intensity throughout this past week. In school you always learn about American civil rights movements during the 60s and 70s and so on, and I knew that they were important to the nation's history and citizens, but to me these subjects were just chapters in a textbook that I had to read in order to pass the class. However, I am proud to say that I have been part of a civil rights movement that would go down in history and that other people would read about. I realize that I did not play a big role in the 20th anniversary of the ADA, but I am glad that I was part of such an important chapter of American history.

Throughout all the events this past week I saw and got to meet a lot of important political figures in D.C., from a Kennedy to the Attorney General Eric Holder, and this would not have been possible if weren't for AAPD and I am sure that like all the interns, I am grateful for all that the staff member and board members have done in order to give us this kind of opportunity. But out of everyone that gave speeches, that was quoted in the media and acknowledged, the MVP from this past week and weeks to would be Yoshiko Dart. If there is anyone in this world that can be in two places at once, it is probably her. Couple of the interns and I had the pleasure of attending the the unveiling of the Justin Dart call box on Saturday. I am glad that I decided not to succumb to the heat and stay at home, because we all had a chance to hear her actually speak in front of a crowd! And if she denies her MVP trophy, due to her modesty, the trophy would most definitely go to AAPD President & CEO Andy Imparato, who seriously looked like Jack Bauer from the 24, with his ear piece at the JFA event. I hope that he and the other staff members would each wear an ear piece to every AAPD event, because that was just too cool, and eventually the interns too of course. I had an interview with John Kemp couple of months ago and he told me that, "Andy will be president one day." I really hope so, so that I can tell everyone that I used to work in his office!

Well I would like to wrap things up by repeating, Happy Birthday ADA!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Volunteering at the Food Pantry

I went to volunteer at the food pantry of the United Church on Saturday and I was quite surprised. I had expected that the people who would be using the food pantry were going to be mostly homeless. However as it turned out only a few of them were homeless and quite a few of them were people with physical or mental disabilities.

After having gone to some of the activities this week in celebration of the Twentieth Anniversary of the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), my volunteering experience at the food pantry came as a reminder that the face of poverty is many times the face of a person with a disability. This experience also made me think about how people with disabilities are such a high percentage of the unemployed, or else not even trying to participate in the labor force, and as a result many people with disabilities live in poverty.

This summer I have met people with disabilities employed in both the public and the private sectors who are highly successful. My food pantry volunteering experience exposed me to the other end of the spectrum. I met people that have been left behind by society. These people stood in line outside of the building because the building with the food pantry was not accessible to people in wheelchairs. They stood in line outside and were provided with a bag of potatoes, carrots, a box of cereal and chicken parts. Also shocking to me was to see parents with their children, and a pregnant woman, picking up food because they could not afford to buy it. This contrast showed me that the ADA was just the beginning, but that society still has a way to go to ensure that people with disabilities participate to their full capacities in the economy and are fully included in society.

Internship Blog for Week Nine

Wow!! I had a lot of events to attend this week! The Spirit of the ADA Celebration and the Justice for All Award Event were both absolutely awesome! I really liked these events so much and enjoyed volunteering at them, too! I met Tony Coelho; he is Chair of AAPD’s Board of Directors, Original Author of the ADA, Former Majority Whip, and former Senior Advisor to the Democratic National Committee and Chairman of Al Gore’s Presidential Campaign. Wow! He is very important man!

He is really a very nice guy and very busy! I noticed he is always talking on the phone and texting too! I can tell that he works hard and it shows from his heart to show us what we can do. Don’t be afraid or shy to try doing something, just show what can you do and have confidence in yourselves. I learned from his speech and I wish I could chat with him at dinner but I noticed that he mostly was talking about congress and interns. Of course I was enjoying the dinner, too; the food was absolutely awesome!!

At my job, to be honest, it’s not really too busy, but of course I join in the conference room for discussions and meetings. Verizon came to my office and was trying to fix modem for the DSL so I can have my Videophone, but somehow Verizon still has problems in their Central office. I guess I just have to continue waiting, but interpreters will be coming for the conferences on the phone so I won’t miss and will be able to participate; I’m glad about that because I’m interested and want to participate. I’m starting to have more energy and it is becoming exciting start to work each day. I’m exhausted, but that’s not a bad thing; this experience and the learning worth it for me.

I’m looking forward to a very big event next week; it is going to be so very awesome! I will explain more about it next week after the event, but trust me – IT IS A REALLY BIG DEAL AND I CAN’T WAIT!

The Start of the ADA Anniversary Events

This week served as the kick-off for the 20th anniversary of the signing of the ADA. The celebrations started with the Spirit of the ADA BBQ and Concert at the Grand Hyatt. As a volunteer at this event I helped guide people from the Constitution level to the ballroom on the Independence level and from the back-up elevator to the ballroom. The Spirit of the ADA BBQ and Concert was a great way to kick-off this week’s celebrations. From the giant inflatable Justin Dart in the corner, to Majority Leader Hoyer, Congressman Sensenbrenner, and Congressman Kennedy’s speeches, to the music of Flame, the Spirit of the ADA BBQ was a huge success. On Wednesday after the JFA event the other interns and I went out to dinner with former Democratic Whip and Chairman of AAPD’s Board of Directors Tony Cohelo. I enjoyed getting to know Tony and I really appreciated his openness and willingness to share his insights with us regarding campaigns and politics. Tony’s an incredible individual and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to learn from him. AAPD’s done an amazing job of giving us opportunities to learn and grow this summer and I’m so thankful to be a part of this internship program.

Week 9

It has been a hot and beautiful, exciting week in DC and I am glad to be here! This week we had some pretty cool events. The first was the ADA event at which there were over 1500 people, a majority of which had disabilities. It was truly an inspiration to look out at the crowd and see people happy to be alive in this moment. Work has been going great I was given a big project that has to be completed before I leave, I am build a server for the office that will keep track of all the inventory at the office as well as a few other thing but I think it is going to be challenging but I welcome it. The interns are going to the White House to go to the ADA Celebration hopefully will have the chance to meet president Obama, that would be cool, later that night I’m going to the gala which is only a few block from the white house so I am looking forward to this week coming up because all the exciting thing that I am going to get to do. There is that ever looming last day of work and last day in Washington DC that I don’t really want to see but with the passing of each day it inches closer. I have made a lot of good friends here in DC and also learned some life experiences for example how to always plan for delays whether it be a late train or forgetting your key in your apartment.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Was that all one week?

Wow. It's pretty amazing how our community celebrates the signing of the ADA. I've never seen such a diverse group of people come together to rejoice over civil rights. Even though disability can be such a wide (and often divided) social category, what we have in common is that we are clearly appreciative of our rights and proud of the fight to get and preserve them. Monday was full of preparation for the week - we had to gear up for the events that were to come. On Tuesday, I attended a meeting of the Regulatory Education and Action for Patients (REAP) coalition, a new organization forming to ensure that patients are aware and invovled when it comes to health reform implementation. That night was the NCIL/AAPD Spirit of the ADA Event. We had an amazing turnout, and I actually loved taking tickets and handing out goody bags. It gave me (and several other interns) a chance to meet the majority of people attending the event, many of whom are deeply involved in the disability rights movement. The barbecue, music, and speakers all captured the enthusiasm we all have for the ADA pretty well. On Wednesday morning, I headed to the NCIL march and rally with other AAPD interns and staff. It was awesome to see everyone come together and shout about protecting our rights. The coolest part was probably the GIANT puppet of Justin Dart at the end of the parade. Jae, our communications intern, got some great pictures - everyone should check them out on AAPD's Facebook page. That night was the JFA event, which was equally amazing. There was an outstanding turnout. Along with a variety of other great people, I actually had a conversation with I. King Jordan, Gallaudet University's former president appointed as a result of the Deaf President Now protests. I couldn't believe I was talking to someone I had read about and watched movies about last semester. On Friday, we attended another anniversary event at the Department of Justice. Again, an amazing panel of speakers including Attorney General Eric Holder, Assistant AG for Civil Rights Tom Perez, former PA Governor and Attorney General Dick Thornburgh, AAPD board chair Tony Coelho, and a panel of others. That afternoon I sat in on a summit at AAPD on public transit, which showed me yet another side of accessibility issues. Still not ADA'd out, this afternoon I attended an event hosted by Yoshiko Dart at which a callbox in SW DC was dedicated Justin Dart. I was struck once again by the love and unity that is uniquely present in the disability community. Now, I'm gearing up for another week of celebration! Stay tuned!

Another week down

It has been a beautiful, exciting week in DC and I am glad to be here! This week we had some pretty cool events. The first was the ADA event at which there was over 1500 people, a majority of which had disabilities. It was truly beautiful to look out into the crowd and see people happy to be alive in this moment. We all have different battles to fight, and while mine don't necessarily include a focus on disability rights there is always a part of me that remembers my relation to it. I'm sure it is the same for many people in the disability community, and while we may not have the largest community or audience, we seem to have the largest hearts.
As I say and re-read the words "largest hearts" one name in particular comes to mind- Yoshiko Dart. I (and many others) am in love with this woman. She inspires the masses to cake action, no matter what their fight is. I'm not sure why though, maybe it's her enormous heart, maybe it's her calm and calculated way of acting, whatever it may be- it is beautiful. I am proud to say I had her sign one of the ADA shirts, and it will soon be hanging in my room at home.
Work has also been very good, I am pretty quick about my work and I am learning a great deal about MS access as well as myself. My work challenges my computer skills and my interactions with my co-workers challenges my interpersonal skills. A good mix to be working on!
Love is the most powerful weapon in the world, a weapon that can do great things or cause great destruction. Maybe one day we will learn to love each other for the sake of peace and equality, because equality is all we need.
As the infamous Justin Dart said: "I am with you always, I love you, Lead on, Lead on."

Friday, July 23, 2010

Week Nine

Week Nine
I never knew I could be such a good organizer and promoter. In the past I have had to promote my musical group, a handful of college parties, or an occasional dance recital, but never spent any time promoting government presentations, nor software releases. But I think I’ve done well this summer learning from my supervisors and coworkers at the USDA agriculture marketing service office. I was really nervous in the beginning stage of contacting important people; actually I was downright scared of it. I am an outgoing person; I love to talk to people but technical speaking can come create many questions and requires the ability to work without a script. I got to practice this week with Mrs. Drumm from USDA Agriculture Research, and after a hour speaking to her about the public comment analysis toolkit she will be representing her office in collaboration with many other USDA offices in support of the implantation of Dr. Shulman’s new software toolkit. The Access board (Sue Little) has also been invited to the presentation on July 30th at the Peoples Garden starting at 10 am where we will be serving FREE kettle corn, refreshments, and guacamole with polio con queso (chicken nachos) as well as guacamole which I am cooking for the attendants. I hope to see anyone who can attend from the AAPD that day, it is an excellent chance to meet in person a true entrepreneur (Dr. Schulman) and here how we was able to develop his software, market it and to see how YOUNG he is, it will blow your mind.
He is a Political Science major and an excellent networker (for you Congressional interns) and was a organic farmer in the past…an all-around great guy to know and so personable and friendly. I have learned SO much from him this summer…Thank you Schulman!
Justin Patterson