First week thoughts and things

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FIRST OF ALL,

I wrote this post yesterday and posted it (so I thought) and I was really confused today when I got on and could not find the post anywhere. Then I realized I posted it under the blog I used this past semester to document my time in Brussels. WHOOPS!

So the first week of my internship with DFN is officially finished! It was a really exciting week. I arrived Tuesday and got settled into my house in University Park, Maryland (about 20 minutes outside of the city) and met my housemates Shelley and Jackson. They’re both super nice so I’m sure my housing situation will be great. 

Wednesday, I set out for DFN without really mapping my commute but I got there surprisingly easy! I think I can chalk some of that up to being pretty comfortable with public transit from spending the last 5 months in Brussels. Anyways, I take a metro into L’enfant plaza and another over to Eastern Market and then DFN and only about a block away from the Eastern Market metro stop so it was easy to find. They have a small office space that they share with a photography business. That day was set out as my orientation day where I watched a number of short films and documentaries about the Dalit cause and then DFN’s work and also watched tutorials on how to use ETapestry which is one of the main programs DFN utilizes to track donors and donations. Thursday, my supervisor Liliya returned from vacation and thats when I got into things. I prepared a number of “welcome” folders for new donors that tell them how to contact their sponsored children, etc. In the folders we stuffed the stickers that you can see in the picture above. I was a little too excited when Liliya said I could have one. In the back of the picture you can also see a small clay cup that is a symbol of the Dalits as well. DFN sells these cups as a fundraiser and the explanation is that “In 70% of India’s villages, non-Dalits will not eat or drink with Dalits. It is this societal distinction, and the discrimination that accompanies it, that has led us to adopt the Clay Cup™ as our symbol. Traditionally, when Dalits enter a tea shop and request a cup of tea, they are served in a clay cup rather than a glass or metal cup that other receive. After drinking their tea, they are expected to crush the cup on the ground so that no other person risks being polluted by their cup. Today, clay cups are commonly used in many parts of India and still convey Dalit “untouchability.”

i spent a lot of the past few days reading through letters to donors from their children and to the sponsored children from their donors. Although it’s my job to monitor the mail, I feel like a bit of a creeper reading through other people’s mail that isn’t meant for me. All of the correspondence that comes through the office has to be noted online in Etapestry and then forwarded on to DFN’s partners in India. I also spent a lot of time scanning letters and drawing from Indian kids into the computer. That is, until I jammed the scanner twice and we had to call it quits on the scanning for the day. It takes a lot of work to maintain the correspondence between donors and their children. I also spent some time brainstorming with my colleague Abby about this new “Fresh Start” campaign DFN launched and is continuing to push. I really believe in the DFN’s mission so I’m really excited to see what else is in store this summer. 

The weather has been extremely hot! High 90s for several days this week. On those days it was miserable to be outside, its gotten a bit cooler since then though. Tonight, my housemate Jackson and I are going to go out in the city and see what’s going on. It should be fun! 

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And we’re off!

Today’s the day I head to D.C. to start my summer experience with the Dalit Freedom Network. I’m really excited (and also a little nervous) to once again have a new city to explore and tons of new people to meet and connections to make. A month ago today I returned from my semester abroad in Brussels, Belgium. I spent three weeks at home spending lots of time with my family and friends and then I spent last week in Lexington, Virginia, interning with Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society’s 49th Biennial Convention and Centennial Celebration. I had such a great week there! The weather was beautiful and everyone I met was wonderful. I spent yesterday visiting my grandparents and packing and now today I am off again!

Currently, the t.v. in this airport waiting hall is talking about a heat wave currently going on in the Northeast. Today it’s supposed to get up to 94 degrees in Washington by 3 p.m. and the newscasters just said it will feel like 99! Wow! Yesterday, I was just thinking about the fact that in the past 6 months, I have flown in airplanes more frequently then I ever had before in my life. I had the flights to and from Brussels, flights to and from Barcelona, Aix-en-Provence, and Florence. And now, I just flew to and from Lexington and now I’m flying to Washington. I’m getting to be a pro at all of the airport procedures and whatnot.

But anyways, today I’m flying into Dulles where my house director Shelley’s mom will be picking me up and transporting me to Morning Gate where I will be staying for the rest of the summer. I just have a room in a house there that is owned and rented out by the University Park Church of the Brethren. I hope that I have nice roommates! Today I just plan on getting settled and unpacked at the house and possibly trying out the metro that I will be taking every day to and from my internship since University Park is a little ways outside of downtown D.C. My actual internship is on Capitol Hill and I’m really excited to be right in the middle of all of that hustle and bustle. I joined a group on Facebook for interns in D.C. this summer and people are always posting events and conferences and things on there. Tonight there is some event at the Bipartison Policy Center called “Pizza and Policy” so I thought it might be fun to go to that and meet some people right off the bat. Tomorrow is my first day at D.F.N. and I’m really excited to see what they have in store for me for the next two months. I’m sure it will be a great learning experience and I’m really grateful for the Super Internship funding through Juniata to make this experience possible. That’s all for now!