Friday, May 28, 2010

Week One: Orientation, Mentoring and Popcorn

Its been a busy but exciting week. The orientation the first two days was quite intense. I believe that the program was well-organized and full of useful information on the whole internship experience. I especially liked the segment on the history of the disability rights movement. The AAPD staff and other speakers helped share with us their knowledge and experiences inside the beltway. I enjoyed meeting and speaking with my mentor Stacy Cervenka. Stacy is a former AAPD intern who first interned with Senator Brownback’s office and now works on his staff.

Yesterday each of the interns set up visits with the Congressional office or other location where they will be interning. After taking the Metro to Union Station, and walking a few blocks towards the Capitol, there I was in front of the Hart Senate Office Building. I felt pretty nervous but I took the elevator and started trying to find Senator Tom Harkin’s office.

So now that we have read about the orientation and the mentoring, why is it that I am writing about popcorn? Well, I love popcorn, buttery and not too salty. When I was coming to Washington for my AAPD internship I packed popcorn, and when I walked into Senator Harkin’s Office one of the first things that I noticed is that they have a popcorn machine. Suddenly, I relaxed a bit. No I did not completely relax, there was still some nervous tension about what the internship would entail and making a good first impression. But I did feel more comfortable that there was popcorn and that I would be interning in a popcorn-friendly working environment. I met my internship coordinator, Caitlin, and one of my fellow interns for the summer session.

Seeing the popcorn maker made the whole experience seem more down to earth. Senate Offices are very formal places and the popcorn machine brought it down a notch. The popcorn maker in Senator Harkin’s office was not just any popcorn machine. It was a replica of an older kind of machine and it was made in Iowa and pops only Sioux City, Iowa popcorn. It is a friendly reminder to visitors to the Senator’s office of one of Iowa’s major products. It was pretty cool that Senator Harkin has free food for his office-workers and visitors, but also that the machine comes from his constituency and is a visual and aromatic demonstration of the Senator’s commitment to his state Iowa and its economy.

The popcorn is made fresh. When I was there they were popping fresh popcorn. The fresh popcorn reminded me of being a kid at the carnival. The office has several other cool features with photographs of different Iowa scenes like the State Fair and books on Iowa. So stop on by Senator Harkin’s office this summer while I am interning there and try the popcorn.

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