Monday, June 27, 2011

Alumni Weekend

It is hard to believe that we are beginning week four of the program! Of course, it always seems further ahead to me as I have begun preparing the week five schedule in the office.

This past weekend was Alumni Weekend. We welcomed alumni from across the world back to Washington on Friday with a Rooftop Reception atop the National Association of Realtors building. The view was awesome with both the Capitol and the Washington monument visible.

On Saturday, we held a BBQ for current students, alumni, faculty, staff and mentors. The BBQ featured two IPVS fundraisers, a raffle and cornhole tournament. Together the groups raised over $800!! We are so proud of all of their efforts. They were clever, creative, diligent and organized. For example, the cornhole committee boosted their proceeds by hosting a guessing contest to determine how many popcorn kernels were present in a tower of tupperware.

The proceeds will be combined with the profits of the other five fundraisers held throughout the summer to benefit the IPVS grant. Awarded each year to a nonprofit focused on youth and education, the IPVS grant typically totals near $2000. The grantmaking process is an integral part of the students' summer experience in the IPVS program because it allows them to learn and practice many skills needed in the nonprofit sector as well as directly impact the DC area. The students are broken into seven committees, each assigned a different fundraiser to plan and host. In addition, they form an eighth committee that reviews the grant applications and presents the finalists to the rest of the class. Together, the class votes to determine the organization that will receive the grant.

To top the great weekend off, Michael joined me for the BBQ. We even entered the cornhole tournament together only to be ousted in the first round. Oh well, you can't win them all

Monday, June 20, 2011

Weekend Whirlwind

Since we last spoke...

I survived a very busy weekend complete with Jazz in the Garden on Friday, Service Saturday and Mt. Vernon and Movie Night on Sunday.

Jazz in the Garden was a wonderfully relaxing start to the weekend. We gathered in the Sculpture Garden around 5pm with hundreds of other Washingtonians and our picnic blankets. We secured a grassy spot near the stacked chair sculpture and enjoyed some jazz guitar until showers spoiled our evening. We fled to the safety of an Austin Grill, a tex-mex chain that offers hearty food at friendly prices.

After dinner, another round in the cupcake showdown ensued with a stop at Red Velvet Cupcakery in Chinatown. I was pleased with my Cookies and Cream flavor choice. In fact, we all enjoyed our choices (a downright miracle). Our rankings are a little different, but generally, Red Velvet placed somewhere in the top three.

I successfully led a group of 11 students in their Service Saturday project at the Capital Area Food Bank. We set out at 7:45am for a 9:00am start sorting food donations into appropriate category bins for further sorting. There was a visceral irony in sifting through these cast-off products, Trader Joe's chocolate bars and seasoned quinoa. Just weeks ago, these items sat on shelves, hallmarks of our successful American economy; now they lay discarded like trash because despite the fact that we produce more than we could ever consume, we cannot get these products into the hands of those in need. I appreciated the staff's dedication to reducing waste. We received very thorough directions to look past the dents and dings in packaging and remember that what mattered was the sustenance inside.

Summer months and a struggling economy meant fewer donations which equated to a shorter work day. This put my group first in line for pizza. {{Papa John's, of which I have eaten more times in the past week than in my whole life}} I especially enjoy the garlic dipping sauce which accompanies the pizza.

I finished Saturday afternoon by thoroughly exhausting myself with cleaning, laundry and grocery shopping.

Sunday brought my second trip to Mt. Vernon, George Washington's estate which overlooks the majestic Potomac River. Because I couldn't be home with Toby, visiting the homestead of the father of our country seemed an appropriate alternative activity for Father's Day. I feel some obligation to educate myself about George Washington considering my position as a Washington College student. In fact, school was forefront in my mind for most of the day for many reasons including some of the reasons below.

In the museum portion of the estate, I spotted Washington College on a map of schools with the name Washington in it. I also noted the same bust of Washington that appears outside of Hodson, spied the Code of Civility (which can be found posted across campus) and noted Washington's official signature penned on just about everything.

Finally the weekend came to a close with Movie Night, the first IPVS fundraiser of the summer. We showed National Treasure and the committee raised about $300 in concession sales and donations.

P.S.-The movie is even cooler when you recognize the locations of the filming. ;)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

"Power is not the means by which to change the world"

It is hard to believe that we are nearly midway through our second week of the program. Time is flying by!

Tonight we hosted an All-Institute guest lecture with Russ Roberts, Professor of Economics at George Mason University. In true TFAS spirit, he spoke on the advantages of small government. Having spent a year in the TFAS program already, I was familiar with the topic and took to his ideas rather quickly, but I am sure that not everyone took the same liking to the ideas which he presented. I appreciated the manner in which Roberts presented his viewpoints; namely, accessible, non-threatening and open for further discussion. I especially loved his quotation (which I have used to title this entry), one which he gave when he was asked by a student, how a single individual might make a positive impact.

This week also brings the mentor breakfasts (four total), our first IPVS site briefing and a hectic schedule change for the students (and staff).

Amidst the chaos, here is a list of recent accomplishments:
  • Learned 86 students names and faces
  • Mastered the mail merge
  • Received my first big-girl paycheck
  • Confirmed a service project all by myself
  • Only hung up on one person while working the front desk (sorry!)
  • Made a Ben & Jerry's pint last through three sittings

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Treadmill of Life

I apologize for the terribly cheesy metaphor, but it seemed to be best synopsis for this week.

As you might have seen, I haven't blogged this week, but honestly, given my schedule, I'm just happy that I've had time to shower!

The students arrived on Sunday in a storm of suitcases. Check-in lasted until 4pm and then we held our first "break-out" session. Kristen and I bombarded them with information, but I think they were pre-occupied with meeting people, stocking their fridges and buying sheet sets to take in anything that we said.

That night, the other PAs and I hosted an ice cream which garnered an impressive attendance.

Monday and Tuesday also brought orientation sessions and yesterday marked the first day of their internships. We have made a lot of trips to and from campus.

Despite the busy schedule, I am enjoying the work immensely. It makes me realize that I certainly want to work on a program staff. I appreciate the opportunity to see my work through to fruition. I find the physical labor of the job to be a welcome break from office work and I couldn't wait to speak with the students. Kristen and I had studied their biographies and were able to identify many of them as they approached the registration table, a feat which impressed some and freaked out others.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Calm Before the Storm

Lauren and I kept good on our promise to return to pound this morning before enjoying crepes again at Eastern market. I opted for a savory crepe with egg, ham, bacon and garlic/chive cheese, but Lauren stuck with her favorite, berries and sweet cream (plus a little raspberry jam).

We browsed until Michael arrived for the day-- :)
Lauren purchased a hilarious t-shirt from Fuzzy Inc. ("It'll grow on you"-ha!) that features a bicycle with a mustache handle. I'm not sure if you've noticed, but mustaches seem to be a hot trend right now. (??)

I showed Michael around the area. The weather was beautiful so we wandered toward the Capitol and back again until we settled at The Banana Cafe, a Tex-Mex, Cuban and Puerto Rican piano bar. We munched on delicious guacamole and a Cuban pizza which offered very unique sweet and savory flavors.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Awkward stairs

Quite a long day at the office today, but thankfully, my great company made it a pleasurable experience. Our two hour meeting kicked off with current event trivia. Dana and I paired up to earn second place, but in fact, I contributed absolutely nothing, so Dana is the true winner. Shane had purchased candy as prizes which we quickly downed.

Before stuffing the registration packets--86 in all for IPVS--Shane treated us to pizza and ice cream treats. Kristen and I made marginal errors and finished by4:15pm, but Sarah and I stuck around late to help Lauren finish up some things and we left by 7pm. Our late commute brought unusual traffic, but luckily, the weather made waiting for the bus downright pleasant.

Lauren and I took advantage of the weather with a late run that passed through the Potomac Heritage trail, a wooded area just over the Key Bridge which passes along the Potomac River. I was surprised that I had never stumbled onto it before, but then again, that's what I love about DC: you're always encountering new people and places. I'd love to return one day for a hike.

On our way back onto campus, we were stopped by a reporter who was looking to capture resident's reactions about last night's armed robberies which took place in Georgetown. Not only was this a shocking story (which we had heard nothing of), but the interview caught us totally off guard. The reporter was from ABC channel 7, so keep your eyes peeled for our video.
Read more about the story (and see my name mentioned) here:

One final note for today: Georgetown is home to some of the most awkward stairs. I encounter these stairs every day on my way to and from work and let me tell you, they are just as awkward on the way down as they are on the way up. The landings are too large for alternating your lead foot as you would normally, but not big enough to produce any additional paces on any one landing. I am baffled.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

By sea, by, only by foot, by foot, by foot...

Like most of my past excursions in DC, these past two days have consisted of a lot of walking.

On Wednesday, we were planning to hit the grocery store after work, but lo and behold, right around 5PM we learned that Georgetown had begun a "brown out" that would last until 9PM. I had forgotten about these joyous events when Georgetown officials, in all of their infinite wisdom, decide to turn off the power off.

Faced with no air conditioning, refrigeration or cooking capabilities, we decided to forgo our original plans and opted instead for dinner at Thaiphoon, a great Thai restaurant where my family and I had eaten last year. The food didn't disappoint, but the fast service (which would have been welcome any other night), put us back on the street too soon, at which point we had no other choice but to look for dessert.

We walked in circles for some time before spinning out toward Foggy Bottom and then before we knew it, we had made our way into Georgetown on M. Without--might I add--finding dessert.

At this point, we were practically emaciated and happily took refuge in Sprinkles where we refueled with cupcakes.

I chose chocolate marshmallow which was okay. Lauren and Sarah gave their cupcakes equally tepid ratings.

As Sarah pointed out, these ratings are especially telling considering that we had been searching for dessert for some time when we finally arrived at their door; we were hot, tired, borderline cranky and in desperate search of cake. One would think that if anything, our disposition would have given Sprinkles an advantage.

In conclusion, we give Sprinkles an "eh." The presentation was cute, but the flavors were subdued, the cake was dense and the icing was stiff (granted it was the end of the day).

Today also brought walking (surprise, surprise). We did finally make it to the grocery store albeit not without some challenges (i.e.-hail).

Luckily, our walk back from the store was not nearly as eventful. Now we have a full pantry of which I intend to go enjoy! Until next time, buh-bye.