After spending almost two years in Philadelphia, the nation’s first capital, time has come for me to move to the actual capital city of the United States: Washington D.C. The day I was leaving Philly, I had mixed feelings: Undoubtedly, I was excited about the new adventure, all the opportunities that lie ahead. Yet, I did feel a bit emotional seeing the center city’s iconic skyscrapers vanish over the horizon, knowing I won’t be seeing them again for a while.
I had already visited Washington D.C. twice. The first time, I stayed for a week at the Marriot Hotel to attend a Fulbright conference and the second time was a one-day event at George Washington University. I was aware that the setting will be different during this internship: An Airbnb place instead of the fancy hotel, and I would stay in D.C. for two months and a half! Guaranteed financial hardships for potential better professional opportunities; I was sold on the trade-off.
I lived at the outskirts of the district: Silver Spring, Maryland. Although, I would regret this choice when I’m stuck in my daily one-hour commute, I did love my new “home” for several reasons. The whole area was scenic. My landlord and roommates were very friendly, and I was pleasantly surprised to going back to a social routine I was used to in Tunisia: neighbors saying “good morning” in the street! I enjoyed biking to work or whenever running errands. And interestingly, Washington D.C.’s streets did not look as huge and overwhelming as they did in my first two visits.
Meeting two other IEDP’ers, namely Katya Murillo and Talha Shahzad, at work was something I was looking forward to. They introduced to co-workers, gave me recommendations and advice and made my integration really smooth. The orientation itself did not bring a lot of information, most of the data was not new to me since I researched the organization thoroughly for the pre-departure report. I then went on a tour with a couple of other interns to discover the building: Each floor was a maze of cubicles with some offices and meeting rooms. There were also kitchens and a gym and the whole atmosphere seemed professional yet easy-going.
I had my first in-person meeting with my supervisor. She is a Senior Education Specialist with a long experience working on early grade reading and STEM education programs. We talked about her work, my research interests. Then we discussed my scope of work and the program I will be mainly working on. It seemed really exciting to me and I was ready for this new professional challenge.