Week 5: I’m a (junior) lobbyist

Congressional High School Art Competition featured in the basement of the basement of the House and Senate buildings

That is right, I am a junior lobbyist. Week 5 was by far one my most favorite weeks I’ve had here in D.C. This week at the Endangered Species Coalition, I had the amazing opportunity to participate in and help organize a fly-in. A fly-in is when we fly in members from other organizations/groups and go to capitol hill to lobby on a particular issue. This fly-in was focused on saving the Snake River Salmon and we flew in members of tribal groups from the Northwest region. From Monday to Wednesday everything was focused on finalizing the details of the fly-in and preparing the groups we had flown in. Wednesday was the actual day that we were on The Hill and I got to sit in on so many meetings and meet a couple members of congress as well as go inside the Rayburn, Longworth, Capitol, and Russel Buildings. It was a very long 3 days, but I am so grateful for this incredible experience!

On Wednesday night, TFAS hosted an alumni dinner/networking event so we had the chance to meet a wide range of TFAS alums, some that had completed the program in the 80s and others that had completed it only a couple years ago but are already very successful in their careers. This was also one of my favorite program events that we have had because it was really encouraging to hear all these TFAS alums speak on their experiences in the work force and how TFAS opened so many doors for them. It gave me really great insight into what potential careers I may want to pursue in the future and really made me start thinking about some logical steps I can start taking now and after graduation.

Inscription on the outside of the Holocaust Musuem

On Friday morning, we had a class site visit to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and it was really impactful. We got to go through the the permanent Holocaust exhibit first and then the Americans and the Holocaust exhibit, both of which did a great job at conveying the heaviness of this tragedy. Something that I felt the museum attempted to do through its exhibits was to challenge visitors to think critically about how all these elements–from politics to economics to racial tensions–led to the Holocaust as well as examine the roles individuals played, either passively or actively. One of the biggest revelations I had was that it was not just the Nazis that contributed to the cruelness, it was so many others (including Americans) that turned a blind eye to the atrocities that were going on. A really big takeaway was the role that fear played–it’s crazy how powerful fear is. It can convince people that acts of inhumanity are okay. It can make them forget their own humanity.

Something that I felt was one of the biggest takeaways was the fact that the Holocaust is still extremely relevant today, even in the U.S. To me, it is so sad that we have done such a poor job at learning from the Holocaust, that the lessons it taught are being so widely ignored today. The inhumanity and prejudice that is shown daily to certain minority groups (even by our president) are sad, wrong, and unjust. Why is it that so many people default to fear when encountering someone/something that is different?

U.S. Botanical Gardens

After a pretty heavy and reflective Friday, I went to the U.S. Botanical Gardens on Saturday with Josh and Ryan. We loved it! We saw so many beautiful and exotic plants, flowers and trees. It was the perfect place to go when we all needed to be reminded of the beauty and goodness in the world.

National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution

Finally, to end the long and busy week, Josh and I went to the National Air and Space Museum, something that has been on my D.C. bucket list since before we arrived! It was really fascinating and we had so much fun!

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