Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Only The Beginning

I guess this is the blog in which I reminisce about my 15 weeks in Washington, DC. Hmm...what else is left to be said? Nothing much.

Quick Summary

1. Lived in Washington Center housing at the Fenestra Apartments in Rockville, MD
2. Did the Science, Technology and Society Program
3. Worked in the research dept at Safe Kids Worldwide in Washington, DC
3. Took an academic course on Science, Technology and Policy through TWC

Reflecting Pool

I don't believe in giving advice when you're about to start a new chapter in your life. The element of surprise makes experience even better. So, come to Washington, build up your professional network, work hard, and have a good time.

Until Next Time,
Emmanuel H.

DC Housing

I was inspired by another TWC blogger to write about my experience in TWC housing in Rockville, Maryland (Fenestra). Just FYI, The Washington Center is building a new complex that will be housing students starting August 2010.

The Club Room

My story started in NYC where I took a Megabus for $3.50 (got lucky) to Washington, DC. Since I didn't do my research well enough, I got lost in Chinatown with at least 70 lbs of luggage being dragged after my every step. When I finally found the Metro station, whew, it was a relief...well, until I had to take my luggage up and down the stairs. I became even more annoyed when I saw the distance I had to go on the Red Line from Washington, DC to Rockville. After about a 40 minutes train ride, I got to Rockville's town square and instantly realized all my troubles were all worth it.

The building is newly built. It has everything I hoped for, such as awesome concierges, fitness center, pool, lounge, laundry room in the apartments, dishwasher, access to fast wireless internet, and even manual temperature control. As great as the apartment was, and as corny as it may sound, I think my roommates made living there so much better. I wish there was an award for the cleanest TWC apartment!

The Kitchen

The Bathroom

The Dining and Living Rooms

Until Next Time,
Emmanuel H.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Bucket List 30 Before Thirty

My time in Washington, DC flew by faster than I ever expected. I know it's a cliche, but it's true. So, I cogitated about why I lived in DC, worked 30+ hours a week for free, and participated in so many activities. Well, one thing lead to another and at the end of the day, I ended up with a list of things I want to do before my 30th birthday (8 years, 9 months). 

If you've never heard of John Goddard, look him up. He's practically a real life Indiana Jones & it all started with a list he made at age 15. Even if you don't make a 'bucket-list' before you reach a certain age, make one before you get to Washington, DC. It'll be the ultimate motivator.

(Not in any particular order)

1. Bungee jump
2. Go to ≥ 30 countries (21 as of 2009)
3. Graduate Adelphi University
4. Earn a master's degree in public health
5. Earn a PhD
6. Get Married ^_^
7. Establish/direct an orphanage
8. Own a waterfront home
9. Play guitar well enough to serenade someone
10. Own a hybrid sport car
11. Donate bone marrow
12. Live abroad for at least 12 consecutive months
13. Go to Alaska
14. Go to Antarctica
15. Scuba dive
16. Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro
17. Attend the Olympics &/or World Cup
18. Go to Las Vegas
19. Visit a rain-forest
19. Get my parents an extraordinary gift
20. Run a marathon
21. Learn another language fluently
22. Donate blood ≥ 8 times
23. Have an Individual Retirement Account
24. Establish an investment portfolio
25. Be the first Haitian/American to accomplish a great feat
26. Have a cool career (i.e. photographer, recruiter, diplomat)
27. Get published
28. ?!?
29. ?!?
30. ?!?

The last 3 are left up to time.


Skydiving in Oahu

"The indispensable first step to getting what you want out of life is to decide what you want." Stein
Until Next Time,
Emmanuel H.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

One Trashy Day After Another. No, Really.

My philosophy is that you don't really know someone until you’ve seen that person go through multiple situations that elicit multiple emotions. The same theory applies for places; you have got to see the place go through the seasons to know it. It's essential to see the best and worst of what the place has to offer in order to get a real feel of it instead of simply being a visitor.

Since my arrival in Washington, DC in September's 80 degree weather until now in December when you can easily wonder if you're in the Arctic, I've been fortunate to fully experience this place. I've eaten at some of its best restaurants (i.e. Chef Geoff's Downtown). I've partied at some of its renowned bars and clubs (i.e. Ultrabar, McFadden's, Capitol City Brewing ). I've gone to some of its world famous museums (i.e. International Spy Museum, Marian ). I've gone to the top of the Washington Monument to be mesmerized by the city's view. I've even been able to meet and listen to some world class orators (i.e. Pres. Obama, Bob Schieffer).

For the last couple of weeks, however, I've been exploring a different side of the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Last week, the Science, Technology and Society program took a trip to Montgomery County's Recycling Center to experience the recycling culture here. Before taking that trip, I never thought there was so much money in recycling. The single stream center at Shady Grove cost $8.5 million to build to serve about 951,000 people. It usually costs $3.2 million annually to run and generates about $3.8 million in revenue. Anyway, it was cool too see how everyday items are recycled and get back on supermarket shelves as containers, soda cans, and boxes within weeks of avoiding their landfill fate.

Today, I took another recycling trip, but this time, to the DC Water and Sewer Authority (WASA). It was really nice to go to "the end of the sewer" where sewage water is processed and then emptied out into the Potomac River. The processed water was actually clearer than the river's natural water. Even though the stench of that place was unbearable, we still toured the 150 acres facility. WASA can treat up to 1.076 billion gallons per day thus currently holds the title as the world's biggest advanced treatment plant.

On another note, I'm kind of excited to be done with my projects at my Safe Kids Worldwide internship. The pressure to have all my research completed is overwhelming because if I don't do a good job, I can just forget about my future with the organization. Nevertheless, only God knows where I'm going to end up geographically and professionally in the next few years so I might as well enjoy the ride through programs like The Washington Center.

Until Next Time,
Emmanuel H.

Ever Felt True Hunger?

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines hunger as "a weakened condition brought about by prolonged lack of food." Unfortunately, that statement is the reality of about one billion people around the world, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The recent global financial crisis alone caused 100 million people to experience hunger due to high unemployment rates adding to the rise of food prices.

Forty-nine million people, including 17 million children, experienced food shortages in 2008. Out of the 49 million hungry individuals, one in three single mothers had troubles financing food. The majority of these people must rely on soup kitchens and homeless shelters for their daily meals or starve. One of these hot meal programs is volunteer-run Loaves and Fishes, operated through St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church and located in the Mount Pleasant/Columbia Heights section of Washington, DC. 

My relationship with Loaves and Fishes began in September 2009 when I was looking for a place to be civically engaged. I was fortunate to have received an e-mail from The Washington Center that offered a selected few volunteering positions for a Saturday food distribution at St. Stephen's. Even though I knew St. Stephen's was more than an hour train ride away from Rockville, Maryland, I was elated to jump on that wagon of opportunity to help. 

Ever since then, two other interns and I go to St. Stephen's religiously on the weekends to help cook, serve, and then clean up after the guests finish their meals. The three of us then took our obligations to a new level by regularly going to a nearby farmer's market at its closing time and collect donated bread, damaged fresh fruits and vegetables. The food collected on Saturdays is then added to the supply the church has so more people could be fed during the Sunday morning hot meal program.

Anyway, a lot of people dream of saving the world as a child..but as they grow older, that dream often fades away. Saving the world doesn't mean you have to become the head of something like the United Nations...it can be as simple as volunteering in a community soup kitchen to address the hunger our brothers and sisters experience daily.

Until Next Time,
Emmanuel H.