Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Last Week

As the title points out, this was my last week of work at the State Department. I had a great 13 week working there, and I have grown a lot; both personally and professionally. I have learned the workings of American diplomacy while helping out in different areas of multilateral policy. The State Department has taught me new skills and conduct, while sharpening my multitasking abilities, organizational skills and communication. I will never forget the experiences I had and the people I met, and I hope to go back sometime in my career.

I worked in a high caliber office with high caliber people.

Now onto my week:

On monday, Vice President Dick Cheney spoke at the Washington Center. It was a big event for the center, and they had tons of procedures for students. I was in partial disbelief because he was still recovering from his heart transplant surgery he had a few weeks ago and that's not easy. He spoke about his early time in Washington and surprisingly threw in some stuff about his Vice Presidency (which we were told was off-limits). I may not like the man, or agree with him, but I respect the service he gave to this country. He was still recovering, so he had to hold the microphone with two hands which laid on his chest.

Vice President Dick Cheney

There's not much to talk about tuesday, so I am going to skip to Wednesday! On wednesday, I pretended I was from Minnesota and went to Sen. Al Franken's constituent breakfast in the Hart office building! They served wild rice porridge (I've never had porridge before so I was hesitant, it turned out to me nice and sweet) and then we all waited for the senator. Al Franken came out, and we got to ask question after he gave us a small speech about the current happenings in Congress. After questions, everyone got an individual picture with him which was really cool. I shook his hand, and an official senate photo is going to be sent to my house with Al Franken's signature. Very cool senator. I also stopped my Sen. Schumer's office for a quick picture; NY pride.

Sen. Al Franken!

Me outside Schumer's office

On thursday I finished up a lot of loose ends at work, and sent documents to the appropriate officers so they would have them after my account is disabled. However my Friday was much more interesting and great, as it was also my last day. I brought a thank you card and donuts in for the office; they were totally not expecting anything. Friday was holocaust remembrance day at the State department. They had Annette Tilleman, widow of Rep. Tom Lantos, come and speak about her time in the holocaust. However, introducing her was Secretary Clinton! So on my final day, I finished my bucket list of seeing the Secretary speak in person. After seeing her on TV numerous times, it was an incredible experience seeing her in person.


Her introduction and the Annette Tillman were great, and very sad at time. After that for lunch my office took me out to burger tap & shake, a local burger, shakes, and fries place. I did not expect to be bought lunch, it was a heartening experience that the entire office went out at once just for my last day...or to get a burger. Anyway you size it up, it was a very kind gesture and I will miss them all dearly. Around 2:30 I had to get debriefed (aka signed forms) and they took my badge away :(. For the remainder of the afternoon, I had to be escorted around the building. At the end of the day, I received warm goodbyes and lots of business cards. I'll be a bit surreal not walking into State everyday, but I am looking forward to my last year of college.

This weekend I met up with the college Democrats who did their DC trip, and a few friends who were in the area.

All in all, I have an amazing past few weeks, with meeting actors and senators, and getting an internship. It's been quite a ride, and I can see my station coming closer.


P.S. Congrats Shannon for making it through finals week! You're going to have an amazing summer!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A G8 Week

It's beginning to be that time; my internship is coming to a close. My last day is April 27, and its a bit surreal that this semester is already over. It's been an incredible experience, but I'll elaborate on that next week!

Monday was an easy day at the office, and it was tax day/emancipation day in DC! DC government put on fireworks in Freedom Plaza downtown and it was a beautiful night for it. It was 75 all night and clear skies. Matt Hillsberg photography is below.

On Tuesday everyone went outside around 10 am to see the space shuttle discovery do a few laps around DC. The shuttle was strapped on a Boeing 747 and accompanied by a fighter jet. The jet looked like a pebble compared to the other two air crafts, and it was a very cool experience. I saw everyone on their phones as they were walking back to work, so no doubt some of you have seen the same picture of the shuttle on Facebook or Twitter.

Later on tuesday, I was involved in setting up for the G8 experts group conference. Every year, the country hosting the G8 conference switches; the last night the U.S. hosted was 2004 and now it is our time again. The big summit is in May at Camp David, but numerous political and ministerial meetings have been held at State and around DC already. After setting up, I performed escort duty to bring around 20 or so delegates to the delegates lounge for an opening reception. I got to interact with a few of them and receive some free dinner.


On Wednesday and Thursday i officially helped out the G8 experts on protection on civilians conference.  A U.S. led initiative, the U.S. announced at the last G8 that this would be the topic of the annual experts conference (part of the larger G8). It was all in English, and representatives from the UN and EU were there as well. I was involved in doing administrative work, sitting in on the meetings, and handling the AV equipment. All the interns who helped out also got to go to the 8th floor (where the official rooms are) and have lunch. There is a balcony outside of one of the dining rooms and it overlooks DC towards the south; you could see the Pentagon and Virginia clearly. I also got to go into the Treaty Room (outside the Secretary's office) which was absolutely stunning. All in all it was a great experience. I clearly saw how technical and cumbersome multilateral diplomacy was, but also the merits of working in concert with other states to achieve an objective. Though people debated on a few sentences for about 45 minutes, just having that conversation about an issue (and eventually it being incorporated into that states' policy) is significant.

8th Floor

On Friday I was playing catch up on a lot of work, but it was a beautiful day. A group of us went out to the food trucks which was delicious (Dorothy Moon's Gourmet Burgers). I unfortunately had to say goodbye to some staff as they would be out of the office all next week on conferences.

This weekend was relaxing. On Saturday I went to Hillwood Estates and Gardens which was absolutely beautiful. I took a ton of pictures, which I'll leave you all with (the last one is my favorite). Another spectacular week, and being here has been a big personal and professional development experience.

I am a bit of a changed man.


P.S. Goodluck with finals Shannon! :)

My favorite

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Despite naming this post after a song I have been listening to all week, it ties in very well to my week.

Big things happening, get ready to read, here we go.

On monday I stayed home and worked on my paper - pg 10 of 23-25, not too bad! I have a lot more work to do, but I am happy of the progress I've made so far. This was my lightest day of the week, so get ready.

Tuesday was a very busy day at the office. Along with all the backlog of work from Easter, I had to prepare for an Inter-agency meeting about the 2012 UPU Doha Congress, in which all the relevant federal agencies came and discussed a game plan for preparations. After being through a few inter-agencies, I think I have gotten a clearer vision on how policy is made and the workings of coordination inside the federal government. One can talk about it all the time in class, however sitting through them are a whole different, and awesome, ball game.

Later tuesday I was invited to the Cosmos Club in DuPont Circle for dinner with the people who give to my financial so that I may attend Dickinson every year. They were an amazing couple and took my on a tour of the very swanky club (and super elite club too) and explained the beginnings of the family scholarship I am given. We had dinner in the club afterwards and it was delicious - Filet Mignon and triple chocolate mousse cake. I thought I was in heaven. I must have thanked them a million times for investing in a kid like me, because it means a lot. I would never had gotten the experiences I have gone through or have been able to develop in the person I strive to become without financial assistance. Often times students are looked at as statistics - but we are so much more. We are the next generation of the world, and enriching and educating our lives, and subsequent generations, should be a source of pride and a national priority. That said, I am very gracious that they had a great time with me, and it warmed my heart that the donor herself (part of the family who's grant is given to me) said she is honored to have me receive her father's scholarship, and he would be too.

Cosmos Club

On Wednesday I took a tour of the Library of Congress. Though the tour was limited, it is an amazing building, and it was an educational experience. I didn't find the President's book, but I am sure it's not another clue. When I got to work, I was involved in planning and attending meetings with the United Nation's Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) #2 Mr. John Sandage! An American and a former employee of the State Department, he was very funny and it was very interesting sitting in on the meetings and learning the different issues the U.S. wanted to discuss with them. Due to sensitivity, I will not say the issues on this blog, sorry. I have four pictures below, there's more of my week after them so don't stop reading!

Mr. John Sandage

Library of Congress

Library of Congress

Library of Congress

On thursday I had another busy day at work! I worked on diplomatic notes and a bunch of other activities. Though small in the workings of American diplomacy, they are really significant. I worked on Rio +20 things as well. I also met with the head of the Macedonian Postal Regulatory agency! They were all really young and friendly. I sat in on meetings with them and then got a picture with them (which I do not have)! After work I attended an accepted students reception for the new Dickinson class. It was hosted a beautiful home and I think I really made my case to undecided kids. The biggest thing to enjoying Dickinson is getting involved. Being involved has enabled me to become the person I strive to become, as well as meeting many kids in different part of the campus community. At Dickinson, you have the power to make a change, and I love that.

Friday was perhaps the biggest day of them all. In the morning I had an interview for an internship in NYC, which wasn't bad. However I was grilled by the deputy of the office and asked "how I would describe the color red to someone who was blind". I was asked this for an internship position -___-. I responded that I would describe what the color means to me and how it makes me feel, and I would bring others in to do that same so that he could gain his own perception of the color - colors are always subjective.

During the day, I was doing a walk through of the G-8 meeting I am staffing this week and we went to the 8th floor (the official diplomatic halls). While we were waiting for the elevators, actor Rob Lowe comes out of no where! Starstruck, I tell him I am a big fan of his especially on Parks & Rec (I love that show) and he shook my hand!! I didn't get a picture with him, but it definitely was amazing. Lastly, I got a call in the afternoon, and I was notified I got my internship for the CLINTON FOUNDATION this summer!!!!!!!! I will be interning in NYC, and I couldn't be more pumped; I was practically doing flips. I received so much support from everyone, especially from my amazing girlfriend - thank you sweetie, you're the best :). Between Rob Lowe and getting an internship, I was sailing pretty high on friday!

Rob Lowe

I had a really fun weekend, it was beautiful weather. So all in all, this was amazing week and I couldn't be more thankful for everything in my life. Coming back to the first point about Giants. As I talked about last post, we have the potential to do big things. We all can be Giants if we try, because I have faith in the human potential and the ability to do big things.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Bigger than Your Body

I didn't have a terribly exciting week (this upcoming week will be, I promise), but I did get accepted to staff a G-8 (Group of Eight) meeting at the State Department in the end of this month! I won't be meeting really important people, but I will be interacting with delegates!

On Monday I went to the Israeli embassy. It was a really cool experience and we heard from a seasoned political officer. Taking things with a grain of salt, his lecture was informative and was interesting to hear issues from an Israeli point of view. Not saying I agreed with all things he said, or that some things weren't hypocritical, but a great time nonetheless.

So, instead of talking about my week, I am going going to touch on a different topic. I know this blog is filled with foreign policy and political issues, but I am going to talk about you. The power that you possess in you; the power of the individual.

I first want you to look at the quote to your left, the one under my "About Me". It's a quote attributed to Leonardo Da Vinci, arguably the smartest human ever to walk this Earth. It is an astute observation, and a correct one at that. Those who make things happen control the conversation, realize their dreams, and solve problems. Those "go-getters" don't take a back seat to events, they make events happen. Its something that strongly resonates with me.

Humans have done incredible things. We have built cities, bridges, buildings, roads, technology, medicines, and continue to do things we think are impossible. However things didn't get the way they are by sitting back and watching. No, those who have left a lasting impact, those who have changed their own lives, are the ones that made things happen.

If you know me, you know I was not someone who was spoon fed everything. I, as well as many others who I look up to, worked our butts off to get things and become the people we strive to be. Granted some things just happen, but most of the time you have to be the one who wants it. I have seen far too many people be helpless about their current situations; whether it be economic, social, emotional or other. Yes, a divine power may or may not have done it for a reason, but I am a firm believer that if one wants something to change, you have to make it change. If there is something you want, go out an take it.

I am a strong believer in human excellence and the human potential. Whether it is the will to beat cancer, the will to change our situations in life, or the will to stop wars - we all have the potential to do it. Now this takes determination, perseverance, and patience. You make yourself who you are and how you portray yourself to others, and the responsibility lies within no one but oneself. Humans made this world, and humans continue to shape it.

So go out and be the force which makes your dreams a reality; sitting on the couch and hoping for it served to you on a silver platter is unrealistic. If you want your life to change, be the change that people respond to, not the responder. If you're ever feeling helpless, just take a good look inside of yourself and know that's where the true power lies. You're the strongest force in your life, and don't waste that potential.

Take the Reins, and Be the Change.


P.S. Thanks for reading that, here are some pictures of spring in DC as your reward:

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Like Magic

Another slow-ish week at the office. However I did pretty substantive work on things. It seems like all the international conferences coincide on the same week. Next week should be busier; many officers return to the office. I am having an incredible internship, and I couldn't be luckier to be working where I am; it is certainly a life changing experience.

 Tuesday night I had dinner with Dickinson alum and trustee Woody Goldberg. He is an absolutely brilliant and kind man. We had a wonderful dinner and discussion about many trending topics, and of course, Dickinson. We we at the University Club, which I heard falls on the other side of the political spectrum from me! It was a very good looking club though.

On Wednesday, I was back on the Hill and attended a U.S. House roundtable between the Airline private sector and government agencies that deal with transportation put on by and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The topic was the EU ETS (Emissions Trading Scheme), and it is a very contentious issue within ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization). The scheme is similar to cap and trade, but it would impose harsh restrictions on U.S. airlines; forecasting losing $3.1 billion over 8 years. Surprisingly, Republicans and Democrats agreed that negotiations with the EU was over (as it was introduced last fall, slated to take affect by the EU this winter), and the U.S. must file an article 84 complaint in ICAO. An article 84 lets the ICAO council decide on the issue (where the number of states opposing this on the council is more than those who do). Filing an article 84 against all 27 EU states (since the EU is not part of ICAO because ICAO are for states only) would potentially make these states be more willing to negotiate. However, all of those testifying stated that they would like a consensus on reducing airline emissions, but are  opposed to the ETS. If the ETS took place, fare flying for all U.S. citizens would increase dramatically and disrupt the economy. Pretty big stuff going on in my organizations!

On my walk to the Rayburn building (it was a beautiful day) I saw a Dickinson and Keystone alum! Pretty interesting how things work. I also walked by the Supreme Court and saw a lot of pro-bill people outside :D. The week ended with little fanfare, though I do hope it gets warmer out! 

Walking in the morning to the Hill

Outside the Supreme Court, keep the bill!!

On Monday I am going to the Israeli and Palestinian Embassies! I can't wait!

I may potentially have big news this week. I just don't want to say anything until it is set in stone. I also am going to have dinner with my scholarship donors next week, and I can't wait to thank them for making my Dickinson experience possible.

By the way, I am having fun, I just choose not to divulge that information on my blog :p. 

On the last note: Every week, my professor for my night class tells us to tell someone you love them, because life is too short not too. I agree, and I try my best to do it. All you really do need is love, because it's magical.