Monday, July 5, 2010

Getting To Know Washington D.C.

When coming to Washington, D.C. I wanted to be something other than just a tourist on an extended stay, I wanted to meet actual residents of DC and see how the locals live. Not that I haven’t done many of the touristy things since getting here. I have been to the various Smithsonian museums, the National Zoo, Union Station, Tenleytown and I have tried many restaurants.

So I was thinking when I got to D.C., how can I meet D.C. locals? At work I have meet a bunch of interns that are here for the summer but the vast majority are not from the DC area. I obviously don’t own a house, so no neighborhood meetings. My dorm is filled with interns that are also here for the summer from somewhere else. I am not getting a gym membership. I am here for too short a time to join a club.

When I got to D.C. one idea was to try to volunteer but most nonprofits don’t want volunteers who are here only on a short-term basis and are available just on weekends. I also realized that my weekends are not as free as I thought. Just like in college, there are still supermarket trips, laundry to be washed and on the weekends I like to sleep a little later. So the volunteer idea has not panned out.

So my first week, while I was walking around, I saw a church and thought that this might be a place to meet some locals, and it did work. Now, fast forward five weeks, and I have met some long-term local residents and listened to some eclectic sermons, including one that talked about the Very Special Art exhibit - a disability art festival that I later went on to see. I have had some free food, including what was served at the church’s Fourth of July Barbecue, which I enjoyed a bit. Weirdly enough, I also sat through a half German/half English sermon. It has been a fun experience.

Through going to church I did meet other summer interns, and none of them Congressional interns. It has been refreshing to talk to them and hear about their different types of internships - like working gathering statistics for a teachers’ union or hearing about spending all day studying about Eleanor Roosevelt at the Library of Congress. Some of the fun memories I will always remember from D.C. will definitely include going to church and the people I met there.

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