I can’t believe it’s only been one week since I first arrived in DC for the summer! I’m amazed at how much we’ve already learnt and experienced in the first week of the WLP program. From meeting Kal Penn and Aneesh Chopra to running into my state senator, Sherrod Brown, in the tunnels under the Capitol, I’ve met so many interesting and engaging people that are working to make our nation and the world a better place every day. Through the WLP, I’ve interacted with South Asian professionals who are doing things I’d love to do in the future, and it’s interesting to see that they’ve all taken different paths to where they are today. Everyone we meet is willing to talk to us, answering our questions, offering advice, and providing insight into how to succeed as a South Asian in government and policy related fields.
WLP provides many opportunities for us to engage with professional experts on different topics, both formally and informally. The highlight of this week was the first WLP Speaker Series of 2012 with Dan Mitchell, a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, and Sabina Dewan, the Director of Globalization and International Employment at the Center for American Progress. The panel discussion on the economy soon turned into a passionate debate on issues ranging from the government deficit to health care and education. Both Mitchell and Dewan are economic experts, but their views are on opposite ends of the spectrum. Often, they would both cite the same studies and statistics but come to completely different conclusions about the meaning of those numbers. As a student, it was an amazing opportunity to be able to ask them a question and see how each side would approach it differently. The exchange was rapid fire; both panelists had no qualms about stating that they felt the other was absolutely wrong. By the end, it was evident why it is so difficult to decide who is “right” and “wrong” in an economic debate, especially when both sides are being logical and have evidence to back up their claims.
My fellow scholars in the WLP Class of 2012 are also an amazing group of individuals. By the second day of orientation, I think we could all tell we were going to get along and have lots of fun this summer. Our friendships are actually stronger because our varied backgrounds and interests. We each bring a different perspective to the conversation, and engaging with the other scholars has definitely broadened my horizons and challenged my perceptions. It is refreshing to be among so many bright and intelligent young South Asians, all of whom have a similar interest in government and policy. The days are long, but instead of being exhausting, they’re exhilarating, because every day we are in our nation’s capitol, participating in great discussions, working for the government, and meeting amazing people. There’s something about the D.C. culture that permeates the district with a sense of purpose and determination, and it’s a magnificent opportunity to be a part of it this summer.
Rep. Hansen Clarke (D-MI)
The Ohio State University