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WLP 2022 Week 4: Work and Wellness in My WLP Summer

Updated: Sep 8, 2022

Our fourth week of WLP started with something I’ve been imagining since I found out I’d be spending my summer in DC—celebrating the Fourth of July in the nation’s capital. After battling the heat, humidity, and mosquitoes, we found ourselves sitting outside the Capitol building (thanks to our two cohort members interning on the Hill), listening to performers including Andy Grammer and the National Symphony Orchestra, and watching the fireworks against the Washington Monument. All in all, it was an incredible day with people I could hardly believe I’ve only known for three weeks.

I also had an exciting week at work as I got to meet Assistant Secretary Julieta Valls Noyes and speak with her about her experiences in the foreign service and hear her advice for those starting their careers to follow your passions. I am interning in the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration at the Department of State this summer, and I’m specifically in the Multilateral Coordination and Engagement office. (This is also referred to as PRM/MCE, and it’s just the tip of the iceberg that I have learned is the federal government’s love for acronyms.)

I finished up the sixth week of my internship this week, and I’m continuing to learn new things and work with more people in my office on a variety of projects. Just as interesting as the work I do on a daily basis, I’ve found the people I’m surrounded by both at work and at WLP to be a source of inspiration and exploration. In conversation with these people, I’ve discovered diverse paths that people have taken and gained their insight on exploring careers and work that is meaningful and important to them.

A theme I noticed across my conversations this week was an emphasis on living a full life. Those I spoke to reminded me that your career will not be your entire life and stressed the importance of self-care. While this is something that I’ve heard often, this week showed me tangible ways to enact this in our lives.

These conversations aligned closely with our WLP event this week, “Handling Anxiety + Stress” with Nithyaa Venkataramani. Nithyaa is a psychotherapist who particularly works with individuals from the South Asian diaspora, and she spent time with us over Zoom to share techniques we can utilize when feeling anxious and stressful, such as progressive muscle relaxation (PMR). Her emphasis on recognizing and honoring when you need to decompress particularly resonated with me as this summer has been jam-packed with internship responsibilities, social events, and WLP commitments. In addition to this event, our cohort had the chance to talk about mental health in the South Asian American community as we worked on our leadership project, shared project progress with Riya over a pizza dinner, and even watched Bollywood movies.

This summer has endowed me with a wealth of knowledge both inside and outside of the workplace. I feel more aware of the incredible range of opportunities I can pursue, confident that I have tools and resources to draw upon, and excited to have people to share these experiences with. As I begin my senior year and consider post-graduation plans, I know that these resources will prove invaluable and I’m eager to see how the rest of my WLP summer unfolds.


Sandhya Kumar


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