World Wildlife Day in D.C.

World Wildlife Day in D.C.

In case you missed it, we celebrated World Wildlife Day (WWD) this past month. It is a day of celebration and awareness of endangered animals and plants around the globe. This year’s theme was focused on African and Asian elephants, which are the most poached and trafficked species in the world. Senator Chris Coons, together with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and other NGO’s, sponsored a reception in celebration of the 3rd annual WWD, which recognizes congressional efforts to address the global poaching crisis. How awesome is that?


That day was also the last day of work for the week. I was so ready to go into the weekend because I was  heading to New York City to visit my sister for her spring break (which you’ll hear more about on my next blog post). But first, since HSUS is one of the co-sponsors of the reception, my intern supervisor put all of us interns in charge of guest sign-ins. It’s become one of my favorite tasks as an intern because of the "swag tables." That’s where they put awesome freebies for incoming guests during the event, and we are typically allowed to help ourselves to leftovers if there are extras.


Pandas. Windbreakers. T-Shirts. Pins.


Additionally, one of the coolest things about this WWD reception was that there were not only members of Congress and wildlife conservation experts in our midst. There was also a celebrity in the house: Shannon Elizabeth from American Pie! Otherwise known as Nadia, the foreign exchange student. It turns out she is the founder of “Animal Avengers,” one of the event’s co-sponsors.


Reception in Dirksen Senate Building

After an hour of overseeing guest sign-ins (which consisted of mostly high-profile individuals, one of which, I believe was a prime minister of a foreign country), myself along with one of my intern friends decided to take a break to get a glimpse of the guest from Hollywood. The room was like one of those scenes in the movies: people dressed to the nines with wine and hors d’oeuvres in hand, socializing while classical music played faintly in the background. After a while of scanning through the crowded room, we finally caught a glimpse of Ms. Elizabeth. She was with a group of people trying to get their pictures taken with her. Truly, she was stunning - which was all we’d heard the whole evening from people walking in and out of the reception. My friend and I were starstruck, to say the least.


(Internally fan-girling)


Of course, we tried to make our way towards her to get a picture as well. I mean, how often do you come across a celebrity without having to line up for hours to get a picture? And at work? But that didn’t happen, unfortunately. Because we were interrupted by a stranger who blatantly decided to make an introduction right then.


Perfect Timing.


As you can predict, our night took a different turn from there. We were awfully disappointed that we didn’t get to get up close and personal with Shannon Elizabeth. We had been so excited to ask her about her organization and its efforts.


Anyway, this stranger encounter ended up being impactful nonetheless. Surprisingly, it was not the typical social/networking kind of conversation I expected, where it’s all introductions and small talk. It was more like hearing a motivational speech at a TED Talk. So for the next hour or so, I received a number of great life/career tips. I’ll list the 3 major ones that I remembered from the night:


1. Negotiate Your Way In Life

Sure, it would be ideal if we got everything we wanted without having to ask. But, hate to break it to you, life isn’t like that for the most part. Consider the following illustration. You would like a week off to visit your family out-of-state because it is your dad’s birthday. Your boss, however, is hesitant to give you leave. You can negotiate with them in the following way: say that you can still work from your computer at your parents' place and that you already went the extra mile by finishing XYZ, which exceeds what is expected of you. It’s unlikely that your boss will begrudge you some time off if you make a deal like that. See my point? It’s not just asking for what you want, but also showing that you have done something in return. NEVER underestimate the power of negotiation. As the saying goes - “You don’t always get what you deserve (or want in this case), but you get what you negotiate.”


2. Stand By Your Values

This is easier said than done, because it’s not always convenient to stand by your beliefs. Maybe your values are in the minority and you fear you’ll become an outcast by speaking up. Or, maybe you’ve been offered a job in a company with values you cannot abide by, but you really need the job. No matter what, ALWAYS stand your ground. This will help you maintain your self-respect and confidence. Only a fraction of all people have the courage to stick to their values instead of the status quo. Would you rather be a person with substance, or someone who is fickle? Having character is vital to decision-making in life. When you stand by your values, you are more likely to be happy, but if you stumble, you end up contradicting yourself and compromising your happiness.


3. Leave A Legacy

This may not be something you're thinking about at this point of your life, but it should be. A legacy isn’t only about leaving a good impression. It’s also about leaving behind things the next generation can benefit from. Making a difference in someone’s life is the greatest gift you can give. You haven’t really lived until you’ve done something for someone who can never repay you. For instance, all the advice I got that night at the event was a gift to me from the stranger I met. He told me that he was more than happy to let me in on these life secrets which someone else had shared with him, enabling him to get to where he was today. He was only doing his part of passing on what he has learned. He even offered to go through my resume, notify me of job options and provide referrals if I ever need them. I’m deeply thankful for his helpfulness and efforts. On why he was doing all this, he said, “Help others as others have helped you achieve.”


A final piece of advice I want to share is that that you never know what you might get from connecting with someone beyond your social comfort zone. Sure, I didn’t get to meet a celebrity (I’m still a little disappointed, actually), but I got some useful life lessons and added another person to my networks list. So, grab any chance you get to meet people, and see where it goes! On the road to success, it’s not just what you know, but who you know.


Tip #1: As you build your networks, don’t forget to follow up. Drop them an email letting them know that you’ve enjoyed meeting them. This is also a good time to ask for an informational interview to bring this network a level up.



Having a roommate from a different country is always great! You not only get to learn about another culture, you also get introduced to food you’ve never tried before. During one of the weekends, my Vietnamese roommate, Jessie, and I took a trip down to Eden Center (the largest Viet commercial center on the east coast) for some authentic Vietnamese cuisine. Eden Center is a strip mall located in Fall’s Church, Virginia, about an hour metro ride from NoMa. Jessie introduced me to her favorite restaurant at Eden. The menu was delightfully endless, but I finally settled for a bowl of seafood vermicelli noodles (instead of the typical Pho) that was just scrumptious! And of course, who can forget those spring rolls! Jessie insisted I tried the restaurant’s famous meat spring roll that came with a special sauce, and I was instantly hooked. We also went to get boba tea and desserts afterwards before heading to the huge supermarket in that mall to stock up on some “close to home” foods and snacks. I definitely recommend a trip down here at least once to satisfy your Asian cravings.




Read Lizzy's previous blog posts here

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