Many Firsts of the First Week

Many Firsts of the First Week

A little over a week has passed since my arrival in such an awe-inspiring city.


The first official week flew by. The speed at which the week went by makes it feel like it was uneventful, but in reality, a great deal has happened. I, along with many of the other TWC students, completed the first day of my internship and sat through the first class. I explored more of the city, met new people, and got to know others better. This week was definitely interesting, and interesting in a good way.




I have begun my internship at the Pan American Health Organization Foundation, or PAHO Foundation (pronounced pah-ho, pronounce it like it’s Spanish). The PAHO Foundation works with the PAHO “ to mobilize resources and jointly address key health, education, and training priorities.”


My first day was Monday, and I arrived an hour too early since I was afraid I would be late. (You never know if there is a delay when using the metro!) I arrived to several welcome signs, one on the door to the office area, and several in the office. When I arrived, I met Elly Brtva, my supervisor. Elly is the interim president and CEO of PAHO Foundation, as well as the chief philanthropy officer. She is very understanding, caring, fun, passionate, and selfless. Elly gave me a tour of the office and of the floor. I have my own work area/cubicle next to another intern, who at that time, I had not met. On each incoming interns’ desks, there was a cute paper gift bag. In the bag, there was a card, a reusable cloth bag with the organization’s logo, a magnetic clip, and a book about a former director of PAHO, Dr. Abraham Horwitz. Receiving such a warm welcome was a great start to the week.


The other two interns, Danielle and Edgar, arrived not long after I received my tour. One more intern, Ana, was scheduled to have her first day Tuesday. Another member of the PAHO Foundation team, Esther, gave us a tour of the building, showing us where we could get good food. There are four interns total for PAHO Foundation. All of us are students of The Washington Center!



US Surgeon General


Our first day of the internship also happened to be World No Tobacco Day, and we had the privilege of attending a World No Tobacco Day Ceremony at PAHO’s headquarters, a few blocks away. This year also happened to be the 50th anniversary of the release of the first U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Tobacco and Health, which reminded me of a course at my home university where we discussed how people doubted the health effects of smoking. Guess who was present at the event. Acting U.S. Surgeon General Boris D. Lushniak!! It was neat seeing him do a presentation and calling for action. It is unbelievable that I was so close to such a figure in public health.


After attending the event and going back to the office, Danielle, Edgar, and I, decided to leave the office to find food since we were having trouble logging in to our computers. Edgar was the one who was hungry. We ended up walking around the White House and not getting any food… Then, we attended a communications meeting.


The rest of the week at PAHO Foundation was busy but enjoyable. It turns out that the password we were given was missing an exclamation mark, so for the first day, we were unable to log in to the computers to complete tasks. After receiving our log-in information, we received challenges such as taking a group photo for the website, writing our own bio, and coming up with posts for our respective social media. (I’m going to be managing the Twitter!) A few days ago, Edgar and I were in charge of making a general information sheet for Elly about healthcare associated infections and antimicrobial resistance.





We were busy, but we managed to find time for our Chipotle fix… The location of the building is great. It’s near the White House and the National Mall, but it is also near many restaurants.


The four of us are getting a taste of public health, and we are excited to learn more!


Scandalous Washington


On Wednesday, I had my first day of class. It’s a little overwhelming to have to go from work to class, especially since class is three hours long. By the time one comes back to the dorm on class day, one literally can not do anything because it would be time to sleep. Some students also aren’t able to eat dinner until late at night.


Other students and I were introduced to scandal by our professor, Dr. Gueli. Class was funny since we were asked to determine whether or not certain events, such as the fallout between Solange and Jay-Z, were scandals using a definition she gave us. We were also introduced to information on the demographics of Washington as well as how the district is laid out. I cannot wait to explore the history of Washington, but I’m disappointed that, at times, we will not be able to go into certain buildings since class is at night.


Friday Night


After a week of work, you have to have a night of fun. Several friends and I decided to go to Jazz in the Gardens located in the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden. The garden was crowded, and we had a difficult time finding a spot in the grass to sit down. It seems like everyone was there. I even saw one of the other interns from work. That day Juanita Williams was the performer. She has an amazing voice. It was nice to sit, listen to music, and talk to friends. Everyone should go to Jazz in the Gardens.



Matchbox Pizza


After meeting up with my roommates, we decided to go get pizza from Matchbox in Chinatown. (I know, getting pizza in Chinatown...) The pizza was so good.


It was my first time going into 中國城 (Chinatown). I hope to go back to try food at Taishan Chinese Restaurant and other places. I hope there’s authentic Chinese food! Someone come with me!



Friendship Arch


Saturday, I went to Columbia Heights with my roommates and one of their friends from school. We walked a little over a mile to get to Columbia Heights since we did not feel like waiting for the next train to the Columbia Heights stop. It was the first time I entered a Best Buy, Target, and Staples in who knows how long. If you’re looking for some of these stores, go to Columbia Heights!


Interesting, no?


Before going to Columbia Heights, we visited Dupont Circle to see people getting ready for the Pride Parade. We didn't actually get to see the parade, but it was nice to see such a large group of supporters.


Simple Sunday


The White House



I heard there were storms and tornados back in Arkansas. Even in Washington, the sky was not clear. It was supposed to rain, and it rained a little when a few friends and I were waiting by a bus stop to head to Georgetown after visiting the White House. It was a near-perfect day to go out.


I wish I could run in that.


In Georgetown we met up with one of my friend’s friend who attends Howard University. We had Chipotle (Yeah, I’m pretty sure it’s one of our favorite places…), and went to the waterfront.


We did not do much at the waterfront except sit, talk, and enjoy the view. The river was reminiscent of the Arkansas River. The breeze felt nice after a walk in the sun. Enjoying nature was a good way to end the week.


What a view.


Despite a week already passing by, it’s just the beginning. I’m looking forward to future work I will be doing at PAHO Foundation and to future adventures with new friends.



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