Finding your Passion

Finding your Passion

I have been told many times by colleagues and fellow students that D.C. is not like the rest of U.S. - it exists in its own bubble and what happens in D.C. is unique. I could not understand what they meant for the first couple of months, until I started looking around and realized that the world is present in this "bubble."

 

I first noticed it when I was walking by a common mobile phone provider store; there was a group of people protesting the company's use of unsustainable materials in the low-grade phones they sold. Where I am from, your scarcely see this level of passion and dedication to face the issues of the day. On the surface, one could say that everything happens here because this is where the government is (and therefore this is where the country’s lifeline is), but you would be failing to capture the true picture of D.C.

 

Right alongside the U.S. government are the embassies, NGOs, multilateral institutions and small grassroots organizations all collaborating to try and figure out this crazy world we collectively call home. It’s truly inspiring to see people from around the world, hear every language and take part in the never-ending cycle of petitions and law making (both international and domestic). It may be obvious to some, but the idea that domestic affairs affect international affairs is often unknown to people. By affecting your community’s affairs through laws, volunteering and work, you are setting a precedent. Once you have set a precedent within the confines of your nations laws, you are able to really push any idea you want.

 

 

I was interviewed in front of the White House by a small nonprofit on the topic of Syria, Saudi Arabia and U.S. aggression in the Middle East. When I say every topic is covered, I mean it!

 

Tips for taking that first step to more meaningful engagement:

 

1) This city has shown me how to get involved, and to be passionate about the things you care about; there are so many avenues to do it! The first would be through the The Washington Center. TWC facilitates the growth of people and passions through your civic engagement requirement. You not only contribute to your new community, but also learn about what makes you tick!

 

2) Go to panel discussions, which are held by almost every think tank in D.C. These events provide a great way to learn about what the experts are saying in your field on certain topics. As a bonus, if you register for the right ones, you may never need to buy your own lunch again, as they are almost always catered.

 

3) Get to know what your internship site is doing to help out your community. It does not matter what field you are in, from international affairs to business (via cooperate social responsibilities). If you ask your manager, chances are you can find a way to get involved.

 

Below are some amazing think tanks; you can subscribe to their newsletters and get event notifications, where you can freely sign up for events based on your availability! In my experience, many managers that host TWC interns encourage their students to go to these events and often will give some flexibility in the work day to accommodate your requests!

 

 

 

 

 

I was fortunate that my internship site deals with policy, as our motto is “better policies for better lives." I think that encapsulates what many of us participating here at the TWC want from our experience. When I came to D.C., I was surprised to see the level of homelessness in the city (this neither a comment on how effective current efforts are, nor am I saying its worse than other places I have been to). Rather, I am saying that I have become passionate about learning about the causes of homelessness and the effects of the current system on the lives of so many underserved individuals. I have become more involved with the issues by following the steps above.

 

It’s important to note that everyone’s experience is different. Your involvement and what you choose to be passionate about will be dictated by your own life experiences, what you makes you think and stay up at night about. Trust me when I say there are people who are passionate about any topic you can imagine, and if you don’t take advantage of your time with industry and academic leaders as your your neighbors in D.C., your experience will be worse off because of it. I want to take the time to thank the TWC for forcing me to get involved. At first it started as an obligation, but now it is a topic I follow very closely and will continue to follow back home as well!


Read Rahul's previous blog posts here

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