Saturday, July 24, 2010

Bonnie, Clyde and Jesse take DC

Guests bloggers here! Yes, we're two. Jesse is a busy girl accommodating all her friends who decide to visit to live vicariously through all her exciting city living!

After tea with the Obamas-- who knew she had met so many people in Washington, Jesse surprised us with a passionate, charismatic, motivation speech she gave to the Senate. She's running in the next election. VOTE FOR JESSE! But really, Jesse has had quite an exciting summer full of great opportunities.

I arrived Friday to Jesse's Georgetown dorm to be greeted by Jesse's suitemates. J was busy at work preparing for a big NFTE training session, so I ventured on the GUTS bus to find Jesse's M street work place. After being greeted by the nice doorman, I went to the fifth floor to meet Jesse and her coworkers. The office was bright, colorful and everyone was very welcoming. Jesse and I left her work place quarter after 5 to meet her suitemates for her one suitemate's birthday dinner! We went down to the water and ate at a delicious restaurant Fishers and Farmers with her suitemates and some of their friends. Jesse and I had a great time catching up before coming back for some homemade cupcakes to rival our trip on Saturday to Baked And Wired, a coffee bake shop.

Saturday morning: guest blogger number two arrived! And after parking her car, we hit the ground running! (aka boarded the bus and then the metro) A hop, a skip, and a jump later we arrived at the American Art Museum and Portrait Gallery where we saw art exhibits ranging from 'Blue on White', a modern piece of blue paint on white canvas to classical presidential portraits. We all agreed our favorite section of the gallery was the portrait competition where our self-acclaimed art 'critic-ness' did not agree with competition judges regarding the final winner. But overall, we discovered we all have artist potential we plan to explore when we return to Chestertown by painting and creating modern, interpretative pieces.

After our art excursions and salad eating we decided we needed more intellectual stimulation. So, we decided to go shopping and empty our bank accounts! We trudged forth through the 120 degree Fahrenheit weather. Okay, it was only 103 but it felt like 200! After shopping for a considerable amount of time, we stopped to refuel and satisfy our throbbing sweet teeth at Baked and Wired. YUMMY! We savored every bite before heading back out into the heat and taking refuge in more shopping stores to escape. Dinner approached quickly and we ate at Pizzeria Paradiso to check off items on Jesse's 'to eat at' list. Although it was quite a burden, we do enjoy helping a friend accomplish her life long goals so we were happy to do it. A walk back from M street brought us back to Jesse's home base with all her suitemates!

Tomorrow, another exciting day is in store. You'll just have to check back in for all the details!

Guest Blogger #1: Bonnie
Guest Blogger #2: Clyde
Jesse as herself

Starring as Bonnie: Leah
Starring as Clyde: Colleen

Thank you to my wonderful guest bloggers! The cupcakes in the photo are from hello cupcake! in Dupont Circle. I picked them up on my way home from work earlier in the week so that we could celebrate Hayley's birthday on her actual birth day before we could all go out to dinner that weekend!

Sunday, July 18, 2010


So sorry to have been away so long. Seems I slacked off on most everything last weekend including sight-seeing. You heard right, I did no sight-seeing last weekend!!

I suppose I can't entirely take the blame. My committee's fundraiser (a book sale) was scheduled for last Saturday from 9am-12pm, but was postponed to Sunday at the last minute because of rain. Instead of going back to sleep, I chose to remain awake and do some much needed laundry. I also got way ahead in my reading for class: Locke, Smith, Carnegie, Washington and Jefferson.

This past week, I visited the DC Central Kitchen. The trip was extra-special considering I had just finished reading Robert Egger's book (the founder of the Kitchen). I am amazed by how efficient the Kitchen is. They are always finding new and creative ways to support their programs through earned revenue. I would love to take a group from the Service Council there to volunteer in the fall.

I also saw my first business plan pitch at a NFTE biz-camp this Friday. Alissa and Verice agreed that it was the best pitch competition that they had ever seen. It was really neat to see the NFTE students in action.

This week also brought me my first Personal Development Series (PDS) lecture. Thursday morning I listened to a panel of three professionals in test prep and admissions talk about tips for applying to graduate school. I have not come to any definite conclusion about graduate school, but I think I would prefer working for a few years before entering school again. I am not quite sure what kind of degree I would want to pursue so I think it might be best to get some experience in a field first.

I would probably pursue a position in some kind of direct service and then possibly go back to school for a degree in order to work in some more administrative position. I have been advised that direct service is a worthwhile endeavor because it lends perspective, but that direct service can also be tiring and thus, is not ideal in the long term. Basically, do it while you are young! {{It's a funny thing really, even most of those professionals who went right into graduate school after undergraduate, advise otherwise. Hm?}}

So, that brings me to this weekend. Colleen was supposed to visit on Friday night, but backed out last minute. She had the chance to make some money and took it. Really?

No, I'm just kidding. I totally understand. I would have too!

So after that I just had to sit in the apartment all Friday night, BY MYSELF. ((Ok, ok. Enough with the guilt trip.))

Hayley and Sara and I took a walk and ended up at Thomas Sweets by accident. ;)

Then on Saturday, I tried to make up for last weekend by heading out with Sara to the Newseum. The admission price was $20 which seems a little steep compared to the free Smithsonians, but it was totally worth it.

For one, the tickets are good for two days. Secondly, the place is huge and very, very neat.

We only got through one level (of six) when we decided we were hungry. Sara had already agreed to eat at Good Stuff Eatery with me, so we knew exactly where we were headed.....

yeah, about that.....

40 minutes and lots of questions later and a cab ride later, we ended up at Good Stuff. It's a burger joint owned and operated by Spike Mendelsohn (that guy from Top Chef). Anyway, people had raved about it and I had been dying to go since week one in DC.

Luckily, the huge line was worth it. My Obama burger was delicious as were the rosemary fries (not Sara's favorite) and the Toasted Marshmallow milkshake.

Once we were appropriately stuffed, we headed back to the Newseum for an hour and a half before they closed. We made our way to the top floor and snapped some photos with my camera (because both of our cameras were dead) of the awesome view. Then we went through the famous front page room, Pulitzer Prize photographs which were absolutely breathtaking and the 4-D movie.

At 5pm the Newseum closed and we headed back to the apartment to study for our Midterm.

This morning, I dragged Sara back to the Newseum with me to finish what we missed before. All in all, it was an awesome museum. It was very thought provoking with lots of hands-on exhibits, clean and newly furnished, had friendly staff and a great store. I think the food court must be pretty good too, seeing as it is catered by Wolfgang Puck, although we did not eat there.

The rest of the day has been spent studying. Yippee!

Can't believe I have only two weeks of work and one weekend left.

I am anxious to blow all of my savings on food and shopping when Leah gets here next weekend, oh, and then tell you all about it. :)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Rethinking my position

As promised, I will now attempt to synthesize some of the thoughts which have been brought on by my classes and intern experiences. For some of you, this means closing the page as fast as you can and returning to Facebook, but I hope you will give me a chance to explain myself.

After all, provoking these thoughts and reflections is intended be the core of my experience here and as much as I have been talking about all the exciting sites and delicious food {my brother thinks I sound like a food critic}, this summer has provided much more valuable experiences which have truly altered my conception of life.

Wow. That was a big statement. Let me clarify.

What I realize now, is that when I applied for this program I did so naively. I thought, "I like service. Why not?"

What I realize now, is that my conception of service-what it means, what it entails, its effects, its role in society-was incomplete. So incomplete in fact, that for some time I was embarrassed, ashamed of my ignorance.

For one, I, like many people, tended to think of service as wholly good while in truth, not all service is equal. Some service is more effective than other forms. Service can even be irresponsible and misguided, but we are often blind to this because we are not used to asking tough questions about philanthropy. Asking questions of philanthropic organizations is not a socially acceptable practice. You would raise some eyebrows if you demanded to know something like the ROI of a philanthropic organization whose mission is to help children cancer patients, but that kind of discerning judgment is exactly what we as generous Americans need to do!

This need is only extenuated in our tough economic times where money is tight and the demand for philanthropic services has gone up. Doing good is not an excuse for being inefficient. Non-profits should be (and need to be) held to the same standards that for-profit corporations are held to {{not that we've done a good job of that either, but that's an entry for another time}}

But, perhaps most damming was my conception of service as somehow a-political.

I have never been particularly politically engaged. I think I found politics too daunting to follow so I just declared it irrelevant, but if there is one thing this experience has taught me, it's that service is far from being a-political. Instead, it is inseparable.

I have been working toward this realization since I arrived in DC, but I think the idea cemented itself tonight in my Ethics class. We were analyzing John Locke's Second Treatise of Government. If you are not familiar with Locke his main argument is that human beings have two basic, natural rights which cannot be infringed upon by any other person. Namely, these rights are freedom and equality. He also believes in the very limited role of government, solely in the protection of property. If you follow it {which I do} then our society as it stands today, is way off track.

Have you ever really thought about how the society in which we live in today differs from the society established by our Founding Fathers?

I really had not until this course. To be honest, I really hadn't given much thought to where I stand on lots of issues, big, fundamental issues like the role of government.

In some of our earlier TFAS events we have been asked to identify our views on issues and determine our place on the political spectrum. I have been all but completely lost.

What am I?

In my mind there were always two options-Republican or Democrat-but now I've come to realize the complexity of the political arena.

As I grappled with these struggles to ascertain my views, I began to worry that I might be being hypocritical. How can I believe in the need for limited government and the duty to address the wealth disparity in our country? Might it be possible for some of my views derived from sociological perspectives to be incongruent with some of my philosophical views?

Indeed, I think it is.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

These feet were made for walkin'

Ah yes, walking: (v.) means of transportation by which a person relies on his or her own two feet [especially popular among city-folk]; prolonged walking often results in blisters and sore muscles

This weekend consisted of a lot of the aforementioned activity.

Michael arrived on Friday afternoon, via MegaBus {which he highly recommends might I add}. I am so proud of him for conquering the transit system: bus--> metro --> bus. Congrats!

That night my suitemates and I hosted a indoor barbecue of sorts. It was a total success, in no small part due to Hayley, who both conceptualized it and accomplished most of the logistics. We had a huge menu and hosted about 20 people in total. It did a lot to combat the reputation we had been earning as the anti-social room, or as Abby puts it "the old cat lady upstairs."

On Saturday, Michael and I woke early and ventured out on a long stroll down to Georgetown's waterfront and harbor. Then we made our way to Dupont Circle in search of the hotel my parents would be staying in, but our search was futile. We made it back to the apartment just in time to join the rest of my suite in going kayaking on the Potomac River. It was a very relaxing afternoon, but gave me a pretty funky shorts tan. Exhausted, we took the rest of the night easy until we headed out for dinner that night on Wisconsin. We settled on an Italian place called Paolo's. {{Did you know that Caesar dressing is made from fish? I didn't until that night when Michael informed me after our Caesar salad came garnished with a piece of fish scale--yuck!}}

Sunday, July 4th, Michael and I attended the DC parade which runs along Constitution Ave. between 7th and 17th. I must admit, the parade fell short of my expectations. Perhaps my frustration was due in part to attempting to fight the masses in order to make our way along the sidewalks. Not to mention the extreme heat which plagued the entire weekend. We cut out before the end and slipped into a Cosi to cool off.

{{Michael and I have started playing a game when we are out and about in the city: if you spot one of the following-a Cosi, a Starbucks or a CVS-you have to try to spot the other two. I'd venture to say that nine times out of ten you will succeed}}

From the Cosi, we WALKED to meet my family at their hotel on Connecticut Ave. Take my word for it, it's a long walk.

But, it was totally worth it when we finally arrived to my family. The Hilton Washington where they stayed was very nice, but we quickly departed in search of some grub. We stumbled upon a Thai restaurant called Thaiphoon (how cute!). The restaurant had actually been recommended to me by my boss Alissa, but we had no intentions of going there that night. In fact, I didn't even know it was there. My family was eager to try some new food, something that isn't readily available back home.

Dinner was fabulous! We practically had the place to ourselves and the bill only came to around $60 for 6 people. The whole city seemed deserted because everyone had converged on the Mall for the fireworks that night.

We opted out of that option though and watched the fireworks from their hotel window. Although we had a pretty good view of the main fireworks, what made the experience so neat was the fact that we could see all the fireworks shows across the city and suburbs. Literally the entire skyline was light up.

The next day consisted of traditional tourist ventures, trekking the Mall and visiting some Smithsonians. Much to my dismay, we succumbed to a tourist restaurant, but everyone was just so tired and cranky that we had lost all motivation to find something better.

After some sustenance, we stopped in the American Museum of Art to visit the Norman Rockwell exhibit which opened this weekend. I am by no means a connoisseur of art, but I have aways admired Rockwell. I find myself captivated by his vivid portrayals of people; his paintings are stories in and of themselves. I had been dying to visit the exhibit since I learned of its presence last week so I really enjoyed myself.

Yesterday, marked the end of the long weekend. I met my parents for breakfast that morning before work at a little place called Firefly. I walk past it everyday and had been dying to try it.

I miss everyone and it was really great to see them, but I must admit that I really like the transition back into routine. I was feeling a little behind in work and life (laundry, housekeeping, etc.)

Today helped out with that as I was able to report to work late, giving me time for much needed catch-up. In fact, I didn't even go into the office. We took a site visit to a BizCamp, basically a condensed version of the NFTE curriculum to be taught in the summer. Then we had lunch with the two students who have advanced to the National Business Plan competition to be held in NY this October. I love meeting the NFTE students! They are so inspiring. Take Nina for example, she has her own photography business where she makes $35 per hour! In the next weeks I will be helping to prepare Nina and Aisha for the competition by combing through their business plans, matching them with a coach and sharpening their presentation.

Tomorrow brings another site visit to another BizCamp to meet more kids. YAY!

Whew! Wow, that was a long entry. That's what I get for neglecting this.

I promise to write again soon to tell you all about my Ethics class and all the reflections I have been having about my stances on philosophical and political and social issues.

Good night for now. Abby and I are going to back-to-back spinning and yoga tomorrow. All I can say is, wish me luck...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

July First?!

Can't believe it is July 1st today!

I had my last Voluntary Associations class on Tuesday and begin Ethics today. I didn't have to go in to work yesterday which was a huge relief considering I have a final due tomorrow which consists of 2, 3-4 page papers. :0

But, today, it was back to work as usual. I finished up the portfolio for the Spring Business Plan Competition and worked a little with Nate on preparing a binder for Julie to take with her to NY when she meets with headquarters next week. It was surprisingly difficult to transition between management styles.

Luckily, Alissa gave me a great ending to my day by inviting me out for Starbucks. She wanted to check in with me about my internship experience, but she also gave me great advice and support about my future. I've been really frustrated lately because I feel increasing pressure to choose {or at least narrow} my career path. Quite a few of my recent experiences have made me think that perhaps I would be happiest in a direct service type field-something like teaching or nursing {although I don't want to be a nurse}. For quite a while I shied away from this interest because I thought it was too basic. Everyone likes doing those things, right?

Wrong. The more I talk to people, the more I realize that: maybe I am unique in my interests. I'd be curious to know what you all think. What do you see me doing?

Anyway, Alissa gave me a great assignment for tomorrow: find 5 Washington College alumni who live in the DC area who work in 5 different job fields and contact them to set up some kind of mock interview. Not only will this expose me to different jobs which I may have never thought of, but it is also NETWORKING, something which is especially important if I ever want a job in DC. That's funny, TFAS held a networking event last night...maybe that's the theme of this week.

Well, off to class! Can't wait to tell you all about my 4th of July weekend!