Thursday, June 30, 2011

Zach Holler Week 5 Blog

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to spend time with some great friends from Ohio who were in DC to visit me. We visited the Vietnam wall and the World War II memorial on Friday night. As I walked along the Vietnam wall, I was reminded of how many men and women have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. Without this freedom I would not be here in DC for this amazing internship opportunity.
As I returned to the office on Monday, I received the materials to begin my next assignment. The agency is working on a hot topic related to employment for people with disabilities. There has been much debate nation wide about whether people with disabilities should be placed in competative, integrated employment or segregated facility based work such as sheltered workshops. Those who participate in facility based employment earn a salary much lower than the minimum wage. Some people support the use of sheltered workshops and sub minimum wage while, others are advocating to do away with it all together. My supervisor is preparing to present on this issue at an upcoming conference. My responsibility is to research statistics, facts and stories supporting the agency's stance and develop talking points for the presentation. While this is a big responsibility, I am honored to have the opportunity to be involved with a major project that could influence the lives of many people with disabilities. This research has been my obligation for this week. I am looking forward to celebrating Independance Day for the first time ever in DC with my family. I will share my experiences in next weeks blog.
Posted by Zach Holler.

Gone in a Blink of an Eye

This week has been similar to last week, except slightly less busy: which is to be expected, as the house is not in session, and there is not as much stuff going on. However, when you are doing research, there is always work to be done.

Although this is another short week for me, I still have had lot to do. I have been studying the Title Two of the Social Security Act, and trying to understand the parts relating to the disabled and the blind. I am trying to understand the limitations set by the Social Security Disability Insurance, for disabled individuals that may prevent them from finding a job. Apparently the limitations are very high, and that is why there are many advocacy organizations calling for a change, so as to give the disabled more incentives to find a job.

On Friday I will be attending the National Federation of the Blind National Convention in Orlando Florida. The convention is a week-long event, during which I will be attending different meetings, participating in all kinds of seminars, and partaking in learning exercises, especially on issues pertaining to the blind and disabled, and multi-disabled.

The NFB convention is always is an excellent opportunity to learn about the latest technology for the blind, the latest development in accessibility, the newest laws on the agenda to be pushed in congress, and the most recent challenges faced by the blind of America and the world. It is also a great networking opportunity, because there are new attendants at the convention, and every year there are more visitors from other countries. I look forward to learning a great deal at our latest annual convention. I will come back with a full head of all the latest that is going on in the blindness community, whether it is laws, technology, accessibility issues, and gossip, yes gossip. LOL Keep tuned

Visit of Franklin Delano Roosevelt memorial and Lesson learned

The beginning of this week was marked by the wonderful visit the AAPD team had Saturday the 25th of June at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial.It has been a very wonderful and instructive visit for me.

The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial is a presidential memorial dedicated to the memory of the US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and to the era he represents. Franklin Roosevelt memorial was dedicated by President Bill Clinton on May 2, 1997.

At Franklin Roosevelt Memorial the tour guides describe the symbolism of the five main water areas as:

  • A single large drop represents the crash of the economy that led to the Great Depression.
  • Multiple stair step drops are a representation of theTenessee Valley Authority dam building project.
  • Chaotic falls at varying angles represent the World War II.
  • A still pool represent Roosevelt's death
  • And a wide array combining the earlier waterfalls is A retrospective of Roosevelt's presidency

Lessons Learned

Even if of Franklin Delano Roosevelt was living with a disability he had been the only American president to serve more than two terms because of his ability and skills in leadership. Franklin Delano Roosevelt took the USA from the Great depression of 1930s to the great victor of 1945 after the World War II. Since then the US became a very strong country and a cradle of decision making.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Week 4 in DC

It has arrived at the fourth week and it's been almost one month since I began my internship at AAPD. It feels like I finally have gotten a grip on what my duties are here and what will be expected of me for the rest of my time in the AAPD office. It weird that in a month I will be leaving AAPD for my long journey across the country to the next stop in my life, Camphill.

DC is a wonderful city and if I could live in any big city this would probably be it. I like the metro system and everyone is usually really nice and helpful. Walking the streets on my lunch break I enjoy the architecture and all the little squares and parks throughout the city. There is so much history here and I feel that every weekend I can discover new things about the city and myself.

This week in the office is particular exciting because there will be a live town hall meeting with Mark Perriello, the new CEO/President. It’s exciting because I helped set it all up. From contacting the company for prices and questions to making sure I was totally knowledgeable on all aspects of the livestream system. When the broadcast goes live I will be the person behind the scenes ensuring everything runs smoothly. This is a great experience and I will take the skills I learned and use then in my future endeavors. This is true for much of what I have learned and done at AAPD. The skills and knowledge I gained I know I will take with me when I venture out to Camphill and beyond. I plan to go onto graduate school after my year of Americorp service. When I go on to continue my education that things I have done at AAPD will still remain with me and I will use the skills to achieve my future employment goals.

I really enjoy everyone who I work with. They are all so nice and welcoming and have made me feel at home since the first day I started. It’s great to work with a diverse group of people. I have never worked in an office before, mostly just out in the community. So this experience is allowing me to witness the inner workings of an office and lets me get so much needed experience. I am excited for what the next month holds for me and sad that the end is approaching so quickly.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Library of Congress

One of the things on my Washington D.C. Must-Do-List was making a stop at the Library of Congress, a feat I was able to accomplish this past week. I had been to a couple of trainings in the Library of Congress during the first few weeks of my internship, but they were in the James Madison Memorial Building not the Thomas Jefferson Building.

Fun Fact: The Library of Congress is actually housed in three buildings throughout the Capitol Complex, Thomas Jefferson Building, John Adams Building, and James Madison Memorial Building. And prior to 1897 the Library of Congress (LOC) was located in the actual Capitol building. Here is a link for historical information on the Library of Congress:

The Thomas Jefferson Building houses the Main Reading Room, a prominent feature in the movie National Treasure: Book of Secrets, and probably the most well known “library” in America. As I made my way through a maze of corridors that felt never-ending in search of the Main Reading Room I came across four amazing exhibits.

Located in the Graphic Arts Galleries (Herblock Gallery and Caroline and Erwin Swann Memorial Exhibition) the first exhibit explored the rise and evolution of editorial cartoons through the work of Herbert L. Block, a famous cartoonist from the 1950s. Through an archway is the Swann Exhibit, a collection exploring the diversity of cartooning from slapstick to political and everything in-between. Down the hall was Here to Stay: The Legacy of George and Ira Gershwin, a phenomenal exhibit for those of you who love musical theater and film from the first half of the twentieth century. The Gershwin exhibit is followed by Hope for America: Performers, Politics, and Pop Culture, with a funny film introduction by Stephen Colbert.

Links to Exhibit Overviews

Herb L. Block:

Swann Exhibit:

Here to Stay: unfortunately there is no link for further information on this exhibit

Hope for America:

After stopping off at these exhibits I finally made my way to the correct floor, exited the elevator, made a couple of turns and found myself staring at the circulation desk of the Main Reading Room.

I had to stop for a moment as I looked up and was left breathless. Sculptures, plaques, stained glass, busts, the massive marble columns. It is truly unbelievable. My attention was immediately drawn to the eight marble plaques written with gold lettering identifying the pillars of knowledge; Philosophy, Art, History, Commerce, Religion, Science, Law and Poetry. Each pillar is expressed through a famous quote and an artistic rendering of each pillar of knowledge in statue form. In the spaces between the eight marble columns and pillars of knowledge are sixteen bronze statues. Each pillar of knowledge is represented by two men in each category as the most accomplished in their respective fields.

My description cannot do this room justice. Here is a link to information on the eight pillars of knowledge. A must read!

Simply breathtaking. Do not pass this up if you are in DC.