This semester four students from the School of Diplomacy have been studying in Washington D.C., where they are taking on internships and exploring the opportunities and experiences the capital has to offer.
The four girls, Courtney Boland, Meher Yaseen, Mari Eboli and Louris Touma arrived as a group.
“Studying in D.C. with my friends has made the experience even better,” Touma said.
During their time in D.C., Touma and Boland were able to get a tour of the White House.
While they did not meet the president, they were able to meet his pet dogs.
“Courtney and I were walking through the first part of the East Wing in the White House when a security agent just walked past us with Sunny and Bo [the Obama family dogs],” Touma said. “We followed the security agent and asked if we could get a picture with the dogs. He had no problem stopping for us to take the picture.”
Touma explained that they were able to get a tour thanks to some inside connections.
“To get a tour of the White House you usually have to book a time slot through your state representative,” Touma said. “However, Courtney’s boss is friends with a woman who was able to get us a tour sooner.”
With studying in D.C. already a unique experience, the girls said they were even more fortunate to be there in the midst of a presidential election.
“When I decided to take part in the D.C. program I was told I could go for fall or spring,” Eboli said. “I understood that spring would have a better chance of getting an internship that could lead into a job, but I couldn’t miss the opportunity to be in the capital when history was in the making.”
Eboli added that being in D.C. during the election showed her how divided the country is and how hard we will have to work to make sure things get done in government that benefits all of the U.S. and not just those of one party or another.
Touma added, “Being in the nation’s capital, D.C. as a whole has been very invested in this election. That was extremely evident. The majority of the city [voted] Democrat [on election day] and on the day following the election, the metro rides to and from work were silent and you could see the disappointment in people’s faces.”
Along with schoolwork, the students were able to take on internships.
Touma interns at the Council of the Americas as a policy intern.
Eboli interns at an advocacy agency dealing with public affairs.
Yaseen is interning at National Defense University at Fort McNair.
Boland is an intern for the United States Agency for International Development.
“Working for public affairs has been the greatest opportunity I have had in my college career thus far,” Eboli said. “I finally understand the role of the government in the private sector and vice versa. We work together to achieve something bigger than ourselves every day.”
Touma said her organization was directly affected by the election.
“The Council of the Americas is a think tank that promotes economic integration within Latin America,” she said. “Following the election of Donald Trump, the whole organization discussed what implications should arise in the next four years, considering the rhetoric throughout the whole election cycle.”
During the election, Trump expressed anti-immigration rhetoric.
When the girls weren’t in class or interning, they were able to join a sports league that they have been able to participate in once a week.
“After class and on the weekends, we explore the city together and see everything that D.C. has to offer,” Touma said.
In addition to exploring and playing sports, the girls take classes during the week, two being Washington Experience and Global Policy.
“Professor Catharin Dalpino has done a great job making the classes engaging and relevant to our experience here in D.C.,” Touma said.
“Every class period we have dedicated time to discussing the election and how it impacts politics in the U.S. It is always interesting to discuss current events, especially with someone who has as much insight into the U.S. government as Professor Dalpino.”
Overall, their time together in D.C. has been filled with great experiences.
Eboli said there’s so much to learn from living in the U.S. Capital.
Elena Gavin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.