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WLP 2021 Week 8: The End of One Journey, the Beginning of Another

Updated: Aug 26, 2021

After eight weeks of incredible learning and making memories, it is hard to believe our WLP summer came to a close this past week. With the House of Representatives in recess, my internship with the House Committee on Homeland Security thankfully slowed down enough to let me fully enjoy our final week in the program.

We began the week hearing from CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju. Our cohort was delighted to hear Manu retell his stories from the journalistic trenches, give advice on building trust with sources, and share how to survive a cicada attack. For me, it was especially profound listening to him share what it was like reporting on the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol — an event that I had spent my summer trying to understand while supporting the Select Committee.

Later that night, fellow cohort member Zainub Ali and I met up with WLP alums and board members Anmol Nagar and Rucha Modi for dinner. Though it was only Tuesday, the four of us enjoyed unwinding and sharing our WLP experiences with one another.

The next day during work, one of my supervisors invited committee interns to join her on a tour of the U.S. Capitol. Despite working in Washington, D.C. for an entire summer, I still had not seen the Capitol Rotunda. From the moment we stepped inside, I was mesmerized. As we meandered throughout the Capitol complex throughout the morning and learned about its storied history, I was grateful that, through my summer internship, I was able to contribute my small part to supporting the mission of the bipartisan Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol.

That evening, I hosted all six DC-based WLP cohort members for our final event together in my basement apartment. Over the next few days, each of us would fly or drive home and our summer living near one another would come to an end. But for tonight, it was an opportunity to hang out and make the most of our limited time remaining.

We started the evening hearing from three powerhouse communications professionals: Shripal Shah, Sabrina Singh, and Vedant Patel. Learning more about how our public officials communicate and connect with the American public was a new lens for public service I had not thought as deeply about until this panel.

Later that evening, we got dinner together nearby and hopped on our last cohort project call together. After weeks of preparing our pitch for our South Asian American Kaleidoscope: Exploring Stories, Struggles, and Service social media campaign, it was incredible seeing all the disparate tasks each of us had completed come together in our final practice call. Though a bit tired, under pressure, and ready to get the project over with, I left this call with such an appreciation for how the twelve of us truly went from being strangers to a close-knit team.

Over the next two days, our cohort presented our project to WLP’s board of directors and close out our summer with a final Zoom debrief. Reflecting on our program coming to a close, I could not be more grateful for the family I gained among my cohort and across years of WLP friends and alumni.

I came into WLP yearning and searching for a political South Asian American community that I never had. In just eight weeks, I found that and so much more. Though this eight-week journey may be coming to an end, I take solace in the fact that our cohort is just at the start of another journey of paying it forward as alumni.

Aidan Arasasingham


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