March 30, 2009 by Elizabeth Wheless
It’s been a long time since I’ve updated you all on what’s going on in the city. I’m a terrible blogger.
Things have been moving along quickly, with plenty of fun times and an equal amount of intense studying. Everybody has been getting along and doing some amazing things.
First of all, Sarah and Stephanie planned the Gulf War Remembrance event in February, and enlisted Jen and I to take some pictures for their supervisor. We all met Admiral Mullen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and talked with him for a bit about our internships and DC. He was incredible – and we got a great picture with him!
We’ve been to the Pentagon, the World War I Memorial, the Holocaust Museum (twice), the Museum of Jewish Military History, the National Archives, the Library of Congress, and a whole lot of places in between. We got to attend a round table with a Holocaust survivor, an oral history project supervisor, and a National Archives lead archivist. We’ve spoken with National Parks Services employees, WWII concentration camp liberators, Holocaust survivors, museum exhibit creators, researchers, archivists, and some interesting WWII specialists. I’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of learning I’ve been doing!
To top it all off, I’m doing great work at my internship. I’m working on a project right now that is very exciting – so exciting that I can’t actually talk about it on here. Bummer.
It’s starting to get warm in DC, and the workload is starting to get intense! Hopefully the next time I update won’t be too far in the future – there’s plenty coming up that is worth sharing.
February 2, 2009 by Elizabeth Wheless
This will be short, because I’m busy and catching a cold.
Last semester ended pretty well, and I got a new internship in the last few weeks for this semester. I’m with the Justice Department, and I really like it so far. There are only 7 girls this semester, and it’s really nice. I’ve gotten to know everyone pretty well, and we’ve had a lot of fun times together already!! We’re only using a few apartments, and I had to switch apartments, actually. I like this one a lot, though!! Classes started full force last week, and this week will be intense – lots of reading! I’ve gotta run, but I’ll update you all later
November 23, 2008 by Elizabeth Wheless
I’ve just had the craziest weeks of my life, I think.
I’ve been so busy with the Committee, doing background memos for Staff Delegations, writing reports on different things, and doing front desk work. I’ve learned so much this semester, which I finally realized this week.
Class on Tuesday was the epitome of amazing-ness. The whole day had been great, because I got to see a friend for lunch, and work was plentiful. In class, we had a speaker from the Department of State talk to us about S/CRS and the Civilian Response Corps. I realized as I was listening to him talk that I really knew my stuff when it came to nation building operations. Instead of feeling uninformed and confused, I was completely aware of all the procedures and bills he talked about, and I was more than a little upset by the lack of awareness he seemed to have on interagency cooperation. I almost felt like I should have been lecturing HIM on the importance of integrating efforts from government agencies and the Defense Department, and learning from your history. Instead, I listened, and asked questions about efficacy of CRC coordination with military units, given the previous issues PRTs had in the field. The whole class seems to have become experts as well, which is great. We can have conversations at amazingly high levels about various aspects of post-conflict reconstruction, including the problems and advantages of various methods for combating problems.
I want to do this forever. I have been sucked in to the defense and aid coordination field. Part of me really wishes I could finish my William and Mary degree in DC so that I could keep working on the side. I feel like I could be valuable already in that career field. I don’t know if I’ll be able to go back to just studying and taking exams for another year.
Anyways, extracurricular life is going swimmingly too. I missed a Committee happy hour last week for class, but it’s okay because I’ve gotten to spend a lot of time socializing with Committee members lately.
Friday was great – we went on a tour of the White House, and saw a lot of the East Wing. I had a great time seeing all the rooms I’d only ever heard of. It was FREEZING cold though. All my winter stuff is in Virginia Beach. Completely unhelpful…
I spent this last weekend visiting a friend in Charlottesville and relaxing with Andy, which was great. I really needed a break from crazy studying and working! (In case you ever want to impress someone special, and you’re in Charlottesville, take them to Hamiltons or Fellinis No. 9 – SO great!)
Now I’ve got to get back to work, though. I have an addendum to a class article due tomorrow. I’m writing on clans in Central Asia and their implications for stability in countries…I have about 4 pages left! I’ll update later this week!
November 16, 2008 by Elizabeth Wheless
I can’t get over DC – it’s magical and beautiful and there’s always something new to do.
I’ve spent the last two weekends exploring with someone new ( ) and I’ve loved every moment.
Last weekend, I went to the Air and Space Museum, and learned all about satellites, theories of the universe, drag and lift, the history of commercial airplanes, and more. I played frisbee and walked around the mall until my friend had to get back to the Naval Academy. It was a great time.
On Tuesday, we went to Georgetown, and played frisbee at the waterfront for a while. Then we walked around for a while and went to Georgetown Cupcake and Godiva. MMM…
The week was relatively tame in comparison. I did a lot of work for the Committee, and worked a bunch of important stuff for class. I didn’t have a whole bunch of free time, but I like it that way. I’ve been spending any and all free time at the gym lately, anyways.
Friday was pretty uneventful. I went to class, came home, relaxed, and made cookies. On Saturday, my uncle took me out to get some lunch, and then I did some work. Then Andy (previously mentioned friend) came back and we stayed in and cooked a killer meal.
Today we went to the Newseum, which was amazing. It’s definitely an all-day kind of museum, especially since you have to pay to get in. It’s worth every penny though.
Come to DC, in short. It’s fun, and there’s a never-ending stream of activity to take part in.
November 3, 2008 by Elizabeth Wheless
It’s been a while since I’ve updated the ol’ blog – a lot has been going on in DC and life!!
A few weeks ago, the group went apple picking in northern Virginia, which was amazingly fun. I went to Annapolis two weekends ago for my dad’s 30th Naval Academy reunion and met some really great people who do amazing things. I made a bunch of contacts for the future, and the more time I spend in DC, the more palpable that future is. Scary, but fantastic. I know that I have what it takes to make something amazing of myself, and it’s the most fulfilling feeling! The DC program has really pushed me to do things above and beyond what I thought I could ever do on my own.
The group has been doing a lot more things on our own, too, which is really great. The group bonding is fun, and doing things around DC is much better when you have other people to share the experiences with! Classes are tough, but not impossible. I have learned so much about post-conflict states, and I really want to apply it on the ground.
I’ve met a lot of new people in the past couple of weeks, and I’m expanding my horizons! I’ve been keeping busy with babysitting, tailgating at the Academy, walking and running around Crystal City, and spending time with fun people. It’s great. Everyone should do the DC program!! (okay, enough sales pitches…)
Tomorrow is the election, and I am excited and nervous. It will be interesting to see what happens, and I hope that everyone votes. I want to stay with the Committee next semester, since I’m continuing the program. That means some people have to win their elections… I’m nervous. Either way, I interviewed for two positions at the Holocaust Museum today, and got both, so I have back ups. I really love the Committee work, though. As they say, everything happens for a reason. I guess I have to wait and see
October 10, 2008 by Elizabeth Wheless
This week was busy, busy, busy.
I prepared a huge report on some 1970s Church Committee findings, which took a lot of my time and effort. I also did a lot of work on my research paper proposal for my seminar. I got to see one of my committee’s hearings on AIG from the anteroom, which was neat. It was definitely the biggest hearing we’ve had since I’ve been on. People off the Hill seem to be getting a lot more riled up about the bailout…makes me wonder whether the bailout may have some roots in the impending elections. hmm…
Classes were really interesting this week. We mostly worked on the Ferghana Valley region of Central Asia. I hadn’t heard of it before, but now I feel like an expert.
A lot of the students watched the debates in my room this Tuesday. There were some heated discussions, but I think we all agreed that this set of debates was not as interesting as we’d hoped. Yesterday I dropped my phone while waiting on the metro, and it fell into the tracks. I then watched in horror as one of the people from my group jumped INTO the metro and grabbed it out. That may have been one of the most nerve-wracking experiences I’ve ever had in my life. I was pretty happy to not have to buy a new iPhone, though…
Now it’s Fall Break, and most people in the program went home or back to William and Mary. I am staying here, and will hopefully get to see some friends. I am also going to spend a lot of time working on my research paper. The topic is so interesting to me, and I hope to also develop some thoughts I’ve been playing with about civilian task forces in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. I’ll find some way to keep busy!
October 4, 2008 by Elizabeth Wheless
This week, I had four days of class. Three of them followed an eight-hour work day. This program is certainly not for the faint of heart. We’re only supposed to have classes on Tuesday and Thursday nights from 6-8, and Friday from 1-4, but we had an extra class Wednesday night from 5:30 -8. The good thing is that we will have one week with only two classes.
To be honest, it wasn’t even that bad. Luckily I really like what I’m doing. I also think it’s great that I can still relax when I get home. I’ve been able to train for the 5K and watch lots of movies to unwind. Movies and The Tudors are my stress-relievers!
Yesterday, some people from my office came in to class. Everyone seemed to like them, and they taught me a lot – amazing, since I work with them every day! My office is full of people I really respect and hope to one day actually work for. They challenge me and I have learned so much as a result.
The best part about the program is the people you meet in your internship, the people you meet in the W&M in DC Office, and the people you do the program with. I’ve learned a lot about being on my own, and networking and prioritizing. I’ve applied the skills I’ve learned in high school and college in the real world. It’s a great feeling.
As for the weekend, I am relaxing for the first time since I’ve been in Crystal City. Yesterday I got team shirts and bibs for the 5K, and came home. I spent most of the night in bed, watching movies, because I didn’t want to wear myself out. This morning, I woke up and ate a small breakfast before I headed to Federal Triangle for the 5K. I met Roxane’s husband, and Dalton’s friend, and then started the run. My time certainly wasn’t unbelievable, but I was happy. I made it in 28:55, but the timer was set off either before or after I left, so apparently I made it in either 27:25 or 30:25. Either way, not bad…but if it’s the latter, I didn’t make my goal of under a half an hour. I will have to check later tonight when they post the results. Being as it was my first run, and I had about 10 days to train, I’m satisfied. After the race, I met the rest of the group by the Washington Monument, and Roxane drove Megan, Heather and I home. She and Morgan really find great ways for us to explore the city and challenge ourselves. I never would have done the race without them! I can’t thank them enough!
I just woke up from a nap, and I’m about to start working on our big research project. We have to write a 15-20 page paper on some aspect of post-conflict reconstruction. I am struggling with my topic. What I would really like to explore would take me much more than 15-20 pages, so I’m in a paring-down phase. I guess that’s better than a no-topic phase! Still…I’d like to have a thesis done by tonight, because I am supposed to get groceries, do some laundry, read for the week, and see Mike tomorrow! If all else fails, I’ll just skip everything else and see Mike. I miss my W&M friends!!
September 30, 2008 by Elizabeth Wheless
This weekend was very busy – my dad came and spent a lot of time doing fun stuff with me.
We went out to dinner at McCormick & Schmick on Friday and caught up on things. He saw my apartment, and then I went to bed (after watching the debates, of course!)
Saturday was busier. We went to a lunch at Clyde’s with a bunch of people in the program and their families too. The food was delicious. I had a really great time meeting families and talking with new people. After lunch, a group of us went to see Romeo and Juliet at the Shakespeare Theater. It was absolutely amazing. All the roles were played by men, which added a new dimension to the play (and lent it an authentic air). It was easily the best portrayal of Romeo and Juliet that I have ever seen. My dad and I went to Arlington Cemetery after the play. We looked around for a little bit, but couldn’t get to the Tomb of the Unknowns, so we went back to Crystal City, where we ate dinner at Charlie Chiangs. I enjoyed it a lot. After dinner, my dad and I watched some TV and talked about life.
Sunday was fun too. We had a private tour of the National Gallery of Art, where we saw some of the most popular paintings in the gallery. I think everyone enjoyed the tour, and I saw so many things that I’ve only seen in books or heard about in class. My friends and my dad all want to go back to the National Gallery to spend more time looking at the art. We had lunch in smaller groups at the cafe inside the gallery at the end of the tour, which was also fantastic. Then I walked my dad out to the car, and I headed back to the apartment.
The rest of the weekend I spent doing chores and stuff. Nothing exciting…
Monday was busy as could be. I watched history in the making as the House failed to pass the resolution on the economic bailout, and saw the stock market fall as a result. It raised a lot of hackles in the office. When I got back after a long day of work, I watched a movie and took care of some business. Then Tucker called from Cuba and we talked for about an hour. After that, I ran a 5K and took a shower. By that time, I was ready to hit the sack for real!
Now I’m relaxing after another busy day at work. Luckily the stock market regained some strength today, which put people in the office back at ease a little. Things will probably be interesting tomorrow since Congress will technically be able to make some more progress on the bailout (they didn’t do much today because of Rosh Hashanah). I’m excited to see what happens…
September 24, 2008 by Elizabeth Wheless
I am excited, busy, nuts, etc. I think every possible feeling that exists has come over me at some point this week, and it’s only Wednesday. I’ve done so many substantive things at work this week. It is such a fulfilling feeling!
Today I had the hearing on Pakistan, and I was on CSPAN (I think). After prepping so much for the hearing, I feel like I didn’t learn too much that I didn’t know already. I am definitely interested in US – Pakistani relations right now. I’m considering writing my research paper for one of the classes this semester on reconstruction in Pakistan.
I am also now signed up to run my first 5K in the AIDS Walk, Washington with a group of people from the DC program. That’s really exciting for me because I’ve never run a race before (playground races back in elementary school don’t count).
September 23, 2008 by Elizabeth Wheless
This week was chock full of craziness. I did a lot of work on next week’s hearing on Pakistan, which was very eye-opening.
The weekend was great. My friend Tucker came to visit on Friday night, and I made him a huge steak dinner complete with a nice bottle of Pinot Noir. We ate, and went to a potluck at one of the students’ apartments, which was nice.
Saturday was really busy. Tucker and I got all-day metro passes and went exploring in Georgetown, where we went to the infamous Georgetown Cupcake, and ate what we purchased on top of the “exorcist stairs.” After walking around a bit, we took the metro to Dupont Circle, where we got a picnic lunch. Then I showed him where I work and take classes, and we went on a long walk to the Capitol. We got some great pictures there, and we were pretty much exhausted, so we returned to my apartment. After some resting, we made hot dogs and went to Alexandria. I took Tucker to Bilbo Baggins in Alexandria and since the bartenders were ex-Marines, Tucker got a free beer. That place is literally the most fantastic place to go out for a beer. They have exotic stuff that you really can’t find ANYWHERE else.
Sunday was more of an R&R day. Tucker and I went to the gym in my apartment complex, and hung out. He took a long nap while I wrote up a background memo and did some research. Then I took him to Jaleo, a fun tapas restaurant. Tucker helped me do some baking that afternoon, and then he left to get back to camp because he deploys tomorrow.