Were I to use a one-word descriptor for the experience which so far has been nearly indescribable, that word would have to be “amazing.” The sights and sounds and even the pulse of our Nation’s Capitol are amazing. The people here, whether they are residents, interns, or tourists, have been simply amazing. On numerous occasions I have traveled the Metro with my roommate, who is blind. We normally split up as we make our way through the entrance turnstiles, then meet back up and head to the platform. More than once has a total stranger been ready to lend a helping hand as my roommate works his way toward the escalator. I don’t find this to be condescending or patronizing- regardless how capable my roommate is in navigating himself through a large metropolitan city. What I have seen is simply human kindness, manifested in a concern from the stranger that a fellow traveler may be in need of assistance. Rightly or wrongly, as many in the disabled community would prefer not to be assisted as if they are incapable of fending for themselves, I see that people are kind enough to go out of their way to help someone they consider to be in need of a helping hand. The discussion regarding changing attitudes about automatically assuming that a disabled person needs assistance must wait for another forum.
As to the amazing experience of the city itself, the highlight of my second week in Washington was exploring a number of monuments with another of my roommates, whose challenge is mobility. Again, without getting into a political or philosophical discussion, there is much work to be done to ensure straight-forward, convenient, and practical access for all disabled to enjoy this fair city and all the richness she has to offer. My favorite memory of the monument exploration was recognizing that we both recognized, at nearly the exact same moment, the splendor and majesty of the massive structures and what they signify to us as Americans.