I sit down to write this blog after having just gotten back from a nighttime walk with my roommates through the Washington Memorial and the White House. It was breathtaking to see these monuments lit up and it definitely capped off what has been a week full of new and exciting experiences.
I arrived at the first day of orientation Monday morning not exactly sure what to expect out of the weeklong AAPD orientation. I think I began to fully realize the incredible opportunities this internship would offer right about the time a man walked to the front and introduced himself as Tony Coelho. I could hardly believe I was in the same room as a former Majority Whip and also the main sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act!
Every day of orientation has been nothing short of a whirlwind. My days have been jam-packed full of stimulating lectures by a variety of influential people, thought provoking presentations by fellow interns, and attempting to become acclimated to DC! I really enjoyed getting to meet my mentor for the summer, Sara Mahoney, who is currently heading up the Workforce Recruitment Program for the Department of Labor, the goal of which is to help employ college students and recent graduates with disabilities. I arrive back at my dorms each night tired but fulfilled, my head swimming with new ideas about disability and my ability to influence the world.
One thing this week has made me realize is that although there have been incredible strides made in terms of access for people with disabilities there is still work to be done, even in a city as accessible as DC. An experience I had today really drove home that point. I went to dinner with a fellow intern in the food court on the George Washington campus. After eating, we waited for the elevator for a good 10 minutes before realizing it was out of order. My fellow intern found a security guard upstairs who called maintenance they promised to send someone over, but I wound up crawling up the stairs rather than waiting hours for someone to fix the elevator. I realize of course, that an elevator breaking down occasionally is unavoidable. However, this elevator was extremely old and also there was no number to call in the event of a breakdown. If I had been alone, it would have been much harder to track maintenance down. I definitely plan to follow up, and make sure the elevator was fixed in a timely manner. In the meantime, it is hard to be upset with the image of the DC skyline still fresh in my mind.
Posted by Emily