Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Day 14: Oh, what a day is today . . .

Before I begin, please permit me to preface this particular post with the following provision: nothing I write will be able to communicate the intellectual, aesthetic, and emotional exhilaration that was today.

To ration the ecstasy, I will break today into three "installments" (within this post) -- because today was like living three days in one.

I. The day started basically like any other. I jumped in the car with my dad this morning, book of sonnets in hand, looking forward to work. The fun started when I walked from the World Bank office to the nearest Starbucks as I passed the time before my ten o'clock meeting. I love the city. What a rush. And reading about urbanization made it even more real! Reading about "coffee table proximity" (a benefit of cities for networking purposes) while sitting in a buzzing coffee shop myself was incredible.

It soon came time to head to Sasha Bruce Youthwork (SBY). The first sight to greet me as I arrived was a welcoming mural. I already knew I would like this place. I really didn't know what I was about to experience next. Sasha Bruce exudes family. The organization's family-based approach to empowering inner city residents begins within the organization itself. Each member of the staff is a deeply good person hoping to make a deeply good impact in his/her community. It's hard to explain, but I know this spirit will permeate my experience with SBY, and I will have many more occasions to describe it, hopefully more eloquently, in the future.

After introductions led by the warm and wonderful Vera Johnson (Managing Director), founder Deborah Shore opened the discussion with a description of the organization's fascinating history -- and I could tell immediately how much I am going to learn here. Next, Jessie Conradi, a new employee who started as an intern, spoke a bit about what this experience has meant to her. She is too eloquent to be quoted, but a line she said stood out to me -- "People listen to you here." When she concluded, there came a shift in the conversation -- half of the people around the table (including Debbie and Vera) were in tears. I wasn't sure whether to give her snaps or claps or what, because she blew me away. But more about Jessie later.

We then heard about funding for SBY and SBY's residential programs. One thing I really value (already!) is how much each speaker encouraged the interns to come speak with him/her! I look forward to learning all about the economic aspects of the organization, as well as getting a chance to visit specific housing sites. Lastly, the organization's Clinical Director (who will be working with us in smaller sessions soon) laid out her philosophy to counselling -- an unbelievably empowering one about which I can not wait to hear more. After some FAQs, the meeting was adjourned. Vera asked me to keep an eye out for the programs which I would be interested in working with -- I am so excited.

I decided to pay Jessie a visit after the meeting, just to share this same thought with her: I am so excited. What ensued was a remarkable conversation about everything from poetry to poverty. She invited me to help her out with some of the work she is going to be starting with elementary age children -- as well as hang out with her at Busboys, a coffeehouse/bookstore which hosts an open mic night for poets once a week. I can tell we are going to be good friends.

II. Elated after this experience, I set off for the World Bank, where I enjoyed a lunch with Papa, full of some of the fastest talking I have ever done, trying to encapsulate my morning.

This must have really tired me out, because I proceeded to pass out in the lobby of the Bank for an hour. When I awoke from my beauty rest, I decided I could not pass up an opportunity to explore D.C. some more. I headed back to Renwick Gallery to revisit some of my "old" favorites. After ogling at Feast Bracelet once more, I caught a snippet of a video explaining the feminist undertones of another interesting piece, Reclining Dress Impression with Drapery, which I discovered (with some surprise) was made by a woman, Karen LaMonte.

Too tempted to stop there, I ventured toward the Corcoran Gallery. As I explored "Painting Big," an exhibition displaying Chris Martin's work, and stopped to take a picture, I was cautioned against it by a guard. He asked me whether I was an art student, and another conversation began. By the end of it, Patrick and I were good friends, and he invited my family and me back to visit!

III. As if today could get any better, Papa picked me up from the steps of the Corcoran just in time for me to receive a text from one of my closest friends, Morgan Lizzy O'Grady. Miss O'Grady is studying abroad this next year, and I got to see her tonight, one last time before she goes! (Though one of her destinations is India, so we may have to plan a little something there . . . ) I told her about the beautiful day I had had, while she told me about the beautiful year she would have (, but mostly, we discussed BOSTON! Morgan will return to the city for her senior year at Wellesley College just when I am starting my freshman year, and I can't wait to chill (i.e. study) with her in Boston.

What better way to end this quintessential "gap day" than by seeing my older sister off and quizzing my little sister in Latin vocabulary before calling it a night? Today was a prayer. I am so thankful.

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