One of the best and worst parts about being a summer intern in D.C. is being so close to the center of politics. The best, in the sense that there is always a protest going on–whether it’s about reproductive rights, gun violence, or immigration. The worst, in the sense that it feels so easy to get bogged down in it all and desensitize yourself to what is happening, or feel hopeless that the bureaucratic loops are slowing down the change that needs to happen.
(Not to mention the fact that you are physically close to a particularly repulsive administration whose policies run counter to everything that your internship is doing).
Nonetheless, some of my favorite experiences of being an intern in D.C. this summer has been the countless number of opportunities to attend rallies or protests and engage in civic and political activism. My flexible schedule at the National Immigration Forum certainly helped with this, and my mentor and others at the Forum encouraged interns to participate outside of the office.
Here are some of the rallies and protests that I was able to attend this past summer:
When Trump announced his plans for a domestic gag rule, a last-minute Planned Parenthood rally was announced across the country to protest this attack on women’s reproductive rights. One of the coolest parts? House minority speaker Nancy Pelosi speaking a few feet away from me!
June 1st, Wear Orange day. A rally to stand against gun violence and support victims and survivors; it was good to see the mass wave of activism that increased after the Parkland shooting continue months later, despite the fact that gun violence–whether in mass shootings, police brutality, domestic violence, suicides–is still an ongoing issue in the U.S.
The first week when family separation of refugee and asylum-seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border was receiving the most media attention. This was another last-minute rally, with many others across the country–a smaller event compared to the marches that happened later in the month. But again, there were great speakers from activists and Congress members alike, including Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, the first Indian American woman in the House, who had visited a detention center and listened and spoke with incarcerated mothers there.
My internship mentor allowed me to take a day off so that I could participate in a mass civil disobedience protest organized by the Women’s March, where we marched to the Department of Justice and stood outside it, and then caused disruption in the Hart Senate building. This was a few weeks after the first protest I had gone to against family separation, and it was inspiring to see what had been less than a hundred people in the previous event turn to thousands of people from all over the country descending on the Capitol in protest of this gross human rights abuse.