Seriously…I don’t think my body could take it. The past ten days have been a complete whirlwind. Life has been in the fast lane since being accepted into the AAPD Washington, D.C. summer internship program three months ago. Writing a thesis, completing a master’s degree, and being placed in Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin’s office – what could be a better gradation present?
Surprisingly with only five days between my hooding (the awarding of a master’s hood) and the internship orientation there was only mild packing chaos and butterflies in the stomach. Even going through orientation for the past four days and being completely exhausted I feel nothing but honor and pride. My fellow interns are simply amazing.
This past academic year I have spent nearly every waking moment reading, interrogating, theorizing, or writing about disability identity, a process that forced me to recall the several summers after my paralysis that I spent at a camp for young people with spinal cord injuries.(I became paralyzed only months before the American's with Disability Act was signed into law, but it would be another ten years before I even became aware of the ADA). It was during these summers that I remember being allowed to escape from the shame and humiliation my new disability had created. For those weeks I was not only allowed to be a kid but I was also provided with acceptance; personally being able to accept my disability but also being accepted into a community. Twenty years have passed since my first summer camp experience and for some reason being here in D.C. elicits the same response.
We are a vibrant, diverse, and passionate group. I am humbled to feel that acceptance once again.