If I could put together some of the quintessential “Washington DC” experiences, this week would have checked most of them off. The excitement started on Tuesday when I was invited to an even at the White House that included multiple speakers discussing the disability community finding gainful employment. This event was in celebration of the 21st anniversary of the signing of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). The event was wonderful and had many great speakers including Kareem Dale, associate director for the White House Office of Public Engagement and Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy and Christine Griffin, the Deputy Director for the Office of Personnel Management. The forum brought together a large group of interns, many with disabilities, to discuss what opportunities were available and ways in which individuals with disabilities can find employment within the federal government.
The excitement Tuesday just kept coming when, also in light of the ADA anniversary, I was invited to an event within the Senate auditorium where a veritable who’s who within the disability community was in attendance or speaking about disability rights issues and how the ADA has gotten us so far, but how we must do more. The presentation was put on by the AAPD, and in addition to many high-ranking officials–Congresspersons and advocates within the disability community–giving wonderful speeches, it also served as a graduation ceremony for myself and the 27 other AAPD interns. Never before have I felt so much as a part of a movement. The event was very inspirational and reminded me of the importance of disability advocacy.
The high from Tuesday’s events pulled me through Wednesday and Thursday. Then Friday, myself, and other interns within the US Department of Education were able to have a photo op with Sec. Duncan. This was a great experience and I think it was pretty wonderful thing for him to take the time to make this gesture. Following that, I had to dash across the mall to a meeting within the Department of Labor. The meeting was a training session for Add Us In, a National Diversity Forum where I was asked to facilitate a breakout room discussion this week- wish me luck.
Saturday had some excitement of its own. My mom and I were walking down around the White House when we were met by a swarm of people whom we quickly realize were protesting. Once we are able to get closer to them we realized they were protesting the educational system–from what I deduced standardized testing, teachers pay, and cuts in the arts and sciences. After thousands of these individuals marched down the walkway between the White House and Lafayette Park, we noticed that there was a second protest taking place. Two groups both representing Syria were protesting against each other–one was pro-President Assad and the other equated did him to Hitler. Needless to say things became very heated and tensions were high, eventually escalating into a fight that was quickly quelled by the police in the area.
Did I mention that my mom and I were playing host to my sister and two family friends of ours from Houston Texas all week? And that in addition to all of these events we toured Mount Vernon, the Capital building, and the Library of Congress… yeah, I’m beat.