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 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 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.
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.