I know it has been a little while since my last post; it felt like two weeks went past at the blink of an eye. I have to admit that the pre-Fourth of July rush definitely kept me busy.  Between wrapping things up at work before the long weekend and finishing a midterm paper for my course, finding a free moment was sometimes a bit difficult (and yes, I will admit that celebrating the Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup victory was getting a good deal of my attention).  Despite the craziness, I was definitely enjoying the ride.

This past Tuesday I was able to volunteer with Good Jobs Nation, an organization focused on promoting better salaries and benefits for service workers. They organized a protest with low-wage workers at the Ronald Reagan building food court on July 2nd.  The participants who worked at the food court were all employed by businesses contracted by the federal government.  Although these businesses are closely linked to the government, they do not always pay their workers a living wage or offer basic benefits. The morning after the strike, the organization hosted something called a "walk back," where volunteers accompany workers as they return to their jobs.  Organizers delivered a legal notice to several food court managers reminding them they cannot harass their employees for participating in the strike and made sure employees were treated with respect upon return. This is a small part of an ongoing effort, but the bravery of these workers to hold their employers accountable was inspiring.

Once I turned in my midterm paper, a comparison -- that I genuinely enjoyed writing -- of the campaign strategy of NARAL Pro-Choice America and Americans United for Life, my long weekend began.  My mom, a former D.C. resident herself, was in town this week for a conference.  It was great to see a familiar face and get some good advice from a summer intern veteran.  Since both of us needed a break from the rush of the city, we decided to venture out to Great Falls Park for the day.  About a half hour drive into Virginia, Great Falls is a forest preserve adjacent to a waterfall on the Potomac, complete with hiking trails and picnic areas.  My family has always been very outdoorsy (we are talking multiple camping trips per year outdoorsy) so this was a fitting activity for our day off together.

The surrounding woods were filled with beautiful rock formations and ruins of a colonial trading post.  Instead of going to the Mall for fireworks, we ended up at the Iwo Jima memorial on the Arlington, VA side of the Potomac.  We unpacked our picnic and soaked in the atmosphere, looking across the river towards the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.  As the sun set, the two iconic structures perfectly framed our view of the fireworks show.


Our view from the hike at Great Falls


I have to say, having some "mom time" was just what I needed this week.  The work I have done here so far has been incredibly rewarding but it was definitely a good feeling to step back and slow down for a bit.  As I type this post, I am on a bus to New York City to visit one of my oldest friends.  One of the huge perks of D.C. is its proximity to a diversity of places, making weekend trips easy and worth your while.  Hopefully I will have some great stories to bring back but in the meantime I am going to try to continue relaxing and recharging so I can be my best self when I return on Monday.  I have some really exciting opportunities on the horizon and I am very much looking forward to the rest of the summer. It's incredible to me that I am half-way through the Washington Center program, here's to the next five weeks being just as great as the last.

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