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  • Aastha Jha

WLP 2018 Week 4: Immigration, Independence, and Incredible Experiences

If someone had told me at the start of this summer that I would somehow end up seeing my fellow WLP cohort members every day even when we did not have events, I would have laughed and said "no, we are going to get so sick of each other." Somehow this past week has proven me completely wrong.

We started off our week with our first planned event on Monday, a panel on immigration with, Akash Patel, a lawyer who started an immigration non-profit in Oklahoma, and Sheetal Patel, a psychologist who works to provide mental evaluations for immigrant applications. Our discussion was educational, intense, and heartbreaking. Akash and Sheetal recounted their firsthand experiences working on cases involving detainees at the border and the significant hardships and trauma that many cases similar to those have undergone. There were certain points throughout our event where I found myself tearing up at the horrific stories being shared. As emotionally provocative as the topic for the evening was, our discussion left me feeling more hopeful knowing that there are organizations and individuals like Akash and Sheetal out there who are working hard to protect our immigrants and provide them with hope for a better life.

Wednesday this past week was Independence Day, a holiday I was extremely excited to spend with my cohort. Towards the afternoon on Wednesday, the 8 of us got together at George Washington University to make cucumber, avocado, and hummus sandwiches for a picnic at the mall. We hurried over to the Lincoln Memorial where we sat, ate, and chatted while Anmol played a fantastic array of Bollywood music, waiting for the fireworks. It was an amazing experience to be watching Independence Day fireworks over the Washington Monument in the capital of the country we call home. Given the spirit of Independence, we decided that watching Nicholas Cage steal the Declaration would be the poetic course of action. Thus, we hurried over to GW where we watched Natural Treasure until our eyelids began to droop.

The rest of the week consisted of “interesting experiences” and fantastic adventures. On Thursday, the ladies of WLP were able to attend the first event for the South Asian American Women's Political Alliance where we had the opportunity to meet some fantastic women. We followed up this event by crossing the street from Bar Deco to Spice 6 to indulge ourselves with naan pizzas. At this point I was shocked I wasn’t already sick of my cohort or that they were not sick of me! Instead, we were all making plans to hang out over the weekend as well! This lead us to Saturday night where my entire cohort came over to my apartment at the UCDC center where we made a collaborative effort to make chicken tikka and rice as well as play Apples to Apples. On Sunday, craving to get out of the city for a bit, Shivank, Anmol, Arjun and I took a trip to Roosevelt Island. Although completely surrounded by trees, we were disappointed that our trip to nature still included the sound of cars driving on highways and skyscrapers peeking above the trees. Week 4 was a whirlwind of events and new experiences, but what I can say is that the memories I have made with my WLP cohort this past week are memories I will cherish for a lifetime.


Aastha Jha

Department of State

University of California, Berkeley

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