by Hinh Tran, 2010 APAICS Intern
Washington, D.C., being our nation’s capital and all, normally oozes patriotism. Everywhere we walk, the Stars and Stripes are waving in the wind; every time we meet a lawmaker or a federal official, we see their flag pins displayed prominently and are treated (as young interns) to speeches reminding us that we are the nation’s future; even the ads in the newspapers, in the metro, on the sides of buses note that such and such company is providing for our armed services, that such and such industry feeds our country.
But the city proved itself to be capable of even more over the July 4th weekend. Buildings were festooned with tricolor banners, our inboxes were filled with emails from listservs promoting July 4th events, and the number of tourists in the streets begin multiplying exponentially. All that, combined with an oppressive heat wave hovering above the region, slowed everything to a crawl. Nonetheless, the long weekend was fantastic. Our group of APAICS interns attended the July 3rd rehearsal concert, which was much less crowded (and equally dominated by country singers) than the July 4th one. On the 4th itself, we metroed out to Maryland for a BBQ hosted by Neil Horikoshi, chairman of APIASF, and a hike in nature, escaping the hordes that were descending on DC. Afterwards we watched the red, white, and blue (and, strangely, green) fireworks light up the not quite dark sky.
The next day, we went kayaking. Waking at an unearthly 8 am to escape the heat, we rowed the Potomac, saw some monuments, and went hiking on an island that straddles the river. The heat crept up on us soon enough, however, and we were roasted alive in 100+ degree weather (+ humidity). We were forced to seek shelter in a froyo establishment before heading over to my place for some pizza and a movie for a chill end to our July 4th weekend.
Of course, interns actually do have work to do! But on Wednesday and Thursday, I attended the Campus Progress National Conference (Stand Up and Fight Back!), an annual event that brings progressive college student leaders from all over the nation to Washington, D.C. for two days of speeches, working groups, free food and stuff, and networking! Among the highlights were Van Jones (hilarious guy), Samantha Powers (knows her stuff), and Paul Begala (very funny too!). Some very chillingly inspiring spoken word artists also performed, including Andrea Gibson, Carlos Andrés Gómez, and Beau Sia Bo.
We discussed everything from the war in Afghanistan to coalition building, and it was great to see so many faces from California–especially from Berkeley! As a DC intern, definitely take advantage of any opportunity to go to a conference: you’ll learn a lot, meet accomplished and driven people, and get lots of free food and goodies!
Hinh Tran is a 2010 APAICS Summer Intern placed with the Peace Corps. He is currently studying political economy and public policy as a rising sophomore at the University of California, Berkeley.