On Tuesday of this week, I found myself standing ten feet away from President Barack Obama. He looked the same as he did in all his recent photos and press conferences, but just older, greyer, and kinder. The only thing standing between the President and me was a squadron of Honor Guards, who are mandated by rule to be a minimum of six-foot-four. Although the encounter was brief, it was still really great to be in the same vicinity of the President, an experience I did not know I would ever have.
I saw him when I attended the Singapore State Arrival Ceremony, which was held at the White House South Lawn. Our supervisor was able to get tickets for all the undergraduate interns in the office. The event started at 8:45 am, but Edwin and I, along with our fellow intern Maddie, arrived at the White House at 6:15 am in order to get a good view. It was worth it — we were in the front, with nothing but the Honor Guard and 50 feet of grass separating us from the President. We saw First Lady Michelle Obama in a beautiful yellow dress and the two First Dogs, Bo and Sunny, were shown around before the ceremony began. Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden were attending the event as well.
Both President Obama and the Singaporean Prime Minister gave remarks near the end of the ceremony. The speeches were idealistic and totally uncontroversial, but the Singaporean Prime Minister did mention the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and how he wanted the U.S. to push it forward. Hillary Clinton, who originally supported it, has now removed her support for the TPP because of the pressure from Bernie Sanders and his supporters. I am curious to see how she will move forward on this trade agreement during the general election.
Thursday was my last day in the office, and it was bittersweet saying goodbye to all the people in the office who had been such great colleagues and mentors to me. The whole office wrote me a card and one of the secretaries, with whom I got close with, wrote me a personal card that was so sweet. It was an engrossing experience interning at this office, and I will remember it as one of the best parts of my gap year.
Today was the last day of Friday programming and it was one of my favorites! Edwin and I met with someone from the Department of Justice (DOJ), in the office of Civil Rights. It’s my dream to work in the DOJ, so I was very happy to hear her talk to us about how she loved her job and how it was really meaningful to work at the DOJ. It was coincidental, but I had already talked with her on the phone for the main project I worked on for my internship a few weeks earlier. I mostly worked on improving language access in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the woman from the DOJ was an expert in language access services, so I called her to ask about how HUD can do a better job. And now, weeks later, we were having a coffee meeting through CAUSE. It’s amazing how small the D.C. world is! I am sad to leave this vibrant city, but also excited to come home to sunny LA.