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WLP 2022 Week 6: What is the story?

Updated: Sep 8, 2022

As I have progressed through my life, I have viewed each phase of my life as a short book, like The Magic Tree House, where you could sit down for a couple hours and get through it. But as we have passed the halfway mark in WLP, my thinking began to shift especially with the events we had this week.

The week kicked off by speaking with Parag Metha and Vaibhav Jain. We sat enraptured while Parag and Vaibhav eloquently told us their individual journey and their own intertwined story. We clung to every work as they discussed everything from the evolution of their careers, to the courage it took to go toe-to-toe with the Union of India in a court of law.

WLP with Parag Metha and Vaibhav Jain

The following day, we met with Ronnie Chatterji, who spoke of forks in the roads and how he decided to take the path he took. Like when he was deciding between working in academia or not, he was able to find a balance between the two. Along with the challenges he faced when running in an election and unfortunately losing an election, and how it got him to the job he had in the current day as Chief Economist at the Department of Commerce. From this we took away that when your current plan either fails or you run into a roadblock, oftentimes other paths appear where you may not have been looking.

WLP with Ronnie Chatterji

The day after our event with Ronnie Chatterji, we found ourselves in the White House, specifically the Eisenhower Executive Office for the White House Panel. We got to listen to South Asians who worked in the White House. Each had their own unique backgrounds. They discussed their day-to-day, what drives them to stay in such high-stress jobs, and the journey they had gone through to get to where they are. We ended our panel by being able to take a tour in the building (shout out to Jay!).

WLP in front of EEOB

We ended our WLP week at the South Asian Bar Association (SABA DC) legal career panel. All of the lawyers on this panel had such different motivations and paths to becoming a lawyer. Even though their occupation is “lawyer” none of their jobs looked the same, giving us an inside look at what law careers have the potential to look like. Many of us have been considering going to law school and hearing the nitty-gritty details about the ins and outs about being a lawyer offered a clarity we hadn’t had before. Personally, listening to the panel made me reaffirm my decision to take a gap year(s) before attending grad school for whatever program that may be.

SABA Law Panel

Throughout this week, it struck me how all of the panelists we spoke to reflected on their lives and paths and how they told their stories. The way they envisioned past chapters of their lives wasn’t like how I viewed my own, vaguely correlating stories bound in the same edition of short stories. They spoke of their lives as if it was a cohesive story, like Lord of the Rings. Even in my internship at USAID, when I was doing research on localization, the articles I found were stories about how the trajectory of people’s lives had been changed. The thing that made it click for me was something Vinay Reddy, President Biden’s Director of Speech Writing, had said about the process he took when writing speeches. He said that he asks a simple question “What’s the story” because every individual and everything has a story to tell.

So as I enter my last 3 weeks of WLP, and even when I leave DC to finish off my last year of school I will be re-framing my thinking by no longer thinking about things in a disjointed manner but trying to find the links. I will ask myself questions like “what about my past experiences influences my current day decisions”, “what paths do I see myself exploring in the future”, and “what is MY story”.


Meghana Chimata


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