At 11 PM tonight it will be exactly one week since I touched down in Washington DC. My "entrée" into the city was quite cinematic: a midnight taxi ride over the Potomac River and past the magnificently lit Lincoln and Washington memorials. Since then, the week slid by like Apollo Ono on ice and I know that my two months here will go even faster.
I am here in Washington DC as part of the American Association for People with Disabilities (AAPD) Summer Internship Program. I am one of 29 participants in this program that is designed to provide students with disabilities with the experience of living and working in the nation's capital. There are many elements that make this program unique. The first is that we are fortunate to have generous funders. Most students are resource-poor as it is, but when you also add on the extra expenses that many people with disabilities have, moving across country to work in an unpaid internship would be prohibitively expensive for most of us. Fortunately, AAPD pays for our transportation to and from DC, provides us with a living stipend and has put us up in George Washington University's beautiful, spacious and ACCESSIBLE apartments.
The second critical element of this program has been the opportunity to interact with highly accomplished professionals from the private, public and nonprofit sectors. Some of these have included Mark Perriello (the President and CEO of AAPD), Rebecca Cokley (Director of Priority Placement for Public Engagement, White House Presidential Personnel Office), Fred Maahs (Director of Community Investment, National Partnerships and Vice President, Comcast Foundation), Joyce Bender (Board Chair of AAPD and President and CEO of Bender Consulting Services) and Dick Thornburgh (former Governor of Pennsylvania, Atty. Gen. of the United States under the Reagan and George HW Bush administrations and Under-Secretary General of the United Nations). I was especially excited to meet Maggie Roffee (Senior Corporate Relations Manager, US Business Leadership Network), who will be my official mentor this summer. She previously worked at the office where I will be interning (Office of Disability Employment Policy, Department of Labor), she has already begun to connect me with people doing disability-related work in Brazil (which is an interest of mine) and she has a great energetic and enthusiastic spirit. I’m glad we were paired up and I look forward to our mentoring sessions.
However, as amazing as the first two are, the third element of the AAPD program is perhaps the most significant…Stay tuned for next week’s post to find out more (quite a cliff-hanger, I know).