UCDC: A Summer in D.C.

Living in D.C. was an incredible experience. I was in constant awe of the city, a dream of mine since the first time I visited it in eighth grade. During my lunch breaks I would wander through the cool marble halls of the National Portrait Gallery. I sipped sangria in the National Sculpture Garden while listening to local jazz musicians play. On intern-mandated coffee runs I would pass balding men, carrying White House-embossed folders, quietly talking into their phones. I was surrounded by young professionals who were eager and determined and dedicated to improving the world we live in, whatever that may mean to them. We were existing in the same spaces as some of the most powerful people in the world. 

The political climate was the biggest culture shock, especially during this particular presidential administration. For the first time in my life, I witnessed the political and social reality of this country every time I stepped outside my apartment, which was just three blocks from the White House. On every corner there were tourists, wearing Trump paraphernalia, passing out Trump 2020 flyers. The tension was palpable. It took an emotional toll.

Despite that, I loved the city. I worked as a Social Media Fellow for a non-profit organization which is dedicated to furthering the political involvement of youth to create fair and sustainable change. It was inspiring to live in a space where my friends would come home beaming about a presentation or court case or standing next to Speaker Pelosi in the elevator. It was refreshing to live in a place where common topics of conversation are climate change and Sudan and access to medical care. It’s an exciting place to live in your twenties. 

One night my housemate and I decided to sneak into the Capitol and try and see the Mueller hearing, which was taking place the next morning. We spent the night sleeping on the cool marble floor of the Rayburn building with a few friends and a long line of press, already standing by for the next morning. Moments like these reminded me how special it all was, living there. At four a.m., when the press began filming and newscasters were live, we got dressed in a bathroom and prepared to wait in line, standing now, for a few more hours. My housemate and I were two of a small handful of people who got to sit in the courtroom during the hearing, directly behind Mueller ─ you can see my deliriously tired face in the majority of pictures posted by every major news outlet in the country, for better or worse.

Ten weeks flew by. My friends and I were able to visit Philadelphia and New York for a few long weekends and made frequent trips to the Mall and to Georgetown. I quickly became friends with other students from various UCs as well as interns from local universities. I absolutely recommend the UCDC program to anyone who is considering it!