The best part about this semester has been my internship at the Newseum’s broadcast department. I started in January and I still need to pinch myself whenever I walk in the door.
Since coming to DC, the Newseum has been my favorite District museum. The first time I visited the 250,000 sq.ft. facility with 7 floors of news exhibits I spent five and a half hours there. Just a disclaimer: I may be the biggest communication nerd on the planet. Anything involving the media, news, social media or technology makes my heart sing. Add in the history aspect that the Newseum prides itself on, and I’m swooning. The office I work in conveniently is filled with people who are just as passionate as me. Naturally, when I found out I would be interning at the Newseum I was thrilled.
After taking How the News Media Shapes History during my sophomore year at AU, I was taken with the idea that journalists, new broadcasters, publishers, editors and heads of media organizations could have a profound effect on the way events play out. The Newseum is a tribute to just that.
The first day of my internship I walked in the side entrance (even just that was a cool experience) and was shown to the broadcast department offices on the third floor. You know on the third floor there is a glass wall exposing the main control room for the Newseum’s screens and exhibits? The broadcast offices are behind there. There are about 20 staff members who work in the office including the VP of Broadcasting, graphic designers, video editors, producers, production administrators and then there’s me. It’s an amazing feeling to be surrounded by such amazing and accomplished people. It’s an inspiration considering I’m still navigating the world of communication.
I was given a quick tour of the department and shown the offices, editing suites, master controls and studios that are used by Al Jazeera: America for filming.
The first project I worked on for the Newseum was researching information and potential interviewees for a documentary project about the fall of the Berlin Wall. Coming into the project I really had a very limited knowledge about the Berlin Wall, but by the end of my first day I had scoured the Newseum, their archives and anything I could find on the internet to learn as much as I could. Instead of looking at newspaper archives on a screen, I went and saw them in person in the Newseum’s exhibits. Instead of googling what the Berlin Wall looked like, I went to the concourse level to see 8 intact pieces and a watch tower from the original Wall.
Currently, I’m working on a TV project that will chronicle a variety of events in American history. I was first assigned to research as much as possible about the 1865 assassination of Abraham Lincoln. After doing 8 straight hours of research I could barely take my eyes off the screen. I was so intrigued by the whole event that I couldn’t get it off my mind for the longest time. I’m actually still holding a grudge against John Wilkes Booth for the event that happened almost 150 years ago.
I’m incredibly thankful for this opportunity I have through the SOC Dean’s Internship Program and am incredibly happy I have this opportunity of a lifetime.
This year American University hosted it’s Founder’s Day Ball at the National Portrait Gallery. This venue was amazing- A huge dance floor in the rotunda and many of the exhibits were open for students to walk around and enjoy the portraits on display. And do you want to know the best part about this event? It was free!
The Founder’s Day Ball is a tradition here at AU and it celebrates the Act of Congress that led to AU’s founding in 1893. With this dance being such a popular tradition, many students attended and had a blast!
This a photo of me and fellow ambassador, Kate Fiske.
For me personally, this dance was a great way to spend time and hang out with friends, and celebrate the place we call home; American University. Founder’s Day is just one example of the way that AU takes advantage of its DC location. Where else can you say that you attended a ball at the National Portrait Gallery?! I can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year!
To be honest, there were actually two nights. And it began in a station and ended with a ride in a police car, not the other way around. But most importantly, I was there by choice. I had signed up to do a Police Ride-Along with the District of Columbia Metro Police Department. The idea was proposed to me by the Associate Director of the University College and Learning Communities.
The process to apply was simple, requiring only a request form and consent form to be completed. Once I had filled them out and sent them in, I received a call a few weeks later informing me I had requested a ride along district that did not exist. In DC apparently, the Police Department is districted separately from the city wards. I corrected my mistake and received confirmation a day later.
The first day I requested was a Sunday in the 3rd district from 10pm to 2am. This area covered the Adams Morgan region in the NW quadrant. I walked in to the station and had my identity verified, before being introduced to Officer Compher.
We spent the four hours patrolling his Patrol Service Area (PSA), responding to assignments from dispatch and people who flagged us down. It turns out that Sunday is a very quiet night, so I had more time to talk with the Officer about his job and district. The 3rd district is the most busy in terms of volumes of crimes, but the types of crimes aren’t typically as serious as some other districts.
That night I had the chance to observe an arrest, the driving procedures, taking statements, and more. I learned about the different specialized units within the department, and in addition to Officer Compher, I had the chance to speak with a few other officers who were on duty that evening. While some of the officers grew up in the area and always knew they wanted to join the police department, others never expected to end up where they were. One officer was returning to graduate school in a few years. Another came from Chicago. Some were career officers, while others were just doing the job for a few years.
It was a really interesting experience, and nice to see life from an Officer’s viewpoint. For my second ride along I requested the 7th district, which covers most of the SE district of DC. While the 3rd might have been the busiest by numbers, the 7th has traditionally seen the most violent crimes. I was there on a Wednesday night though, so once again, it was very quiet. I rode along with Officer Gray this time, who was born and raised in the area that he now patrolled.
While I didn’t get to see as much activity as on the first ride along, I did get to know the Anacostia region a lot better. This region is associated the most with a lot of the violence and crime in the DC area, which traditionally has been true. By the end of the night though, the Officer had given me a new viewpoint of the area. The area is definitely improving, and fast. Officer Gray told me about the declining rates of violent crimes, and the gentrification of the area. A new government agency is moving into the area, and there is a lot of construction making new housing available. It also turns out that the absolute best view of the DC area is from this area.
It’s clear to me at this point that to really see a busy night I need to do a ride along on a Friday or Saturday night, so my next ride along is scheduled in the 2nd district on a Saturday night. I can’t wait!
This past semester (Fall 2013) I had the amazing opportunity to intern with the National Park Service at the Clara Barton National Historic Site. The Site is Clara Barton’s home that she lived in from 1897-1912. Clara Barton was most famous for being a Civil War nurse and the founder of the American Red Cross. As a history major here at AU, this opportunity gave me a wonderful experience in the public history field–a field I hope to enter in graduate school. Public history is all about interpreting history for the public and seeing how history affects the public’s perspective; basically for history majors that don’t want to teach. Seeing as my dream job is to work in a museum some day, this internship gave me a taste of what its like to interpret history for the public. I gave house tours twice a week and conducted an oral history project with a Park Ranger that worked at the Site when it first came under NPS jurisdiction in 1975. I learned many valuable lessons here and learned about a true American hero in the process. This internship would not have been possible without AU’s fantastic location in Washington, DC and all the help I received from the Career Center editing my resume and cover letter. This internship assured me that I’m pursuing the right major and made me very excited about future internships and jobs in the field of Public History!
The Smithsonian National Zoo has welcomed it’s newest panda cub, Bao Bao. Last Saturday some ambassador friends and I went to offer Bao Bao our own welcome! Although she was super sleepy when we visited, we still got to see a little bit of her head and lots of other amazing animals at the zoo! The National Zoo is a popular weekend spot for many AU students since it’s a short 4 metro stops away and its free, yes FREE! We got to see everything from slithering snakes to eloquent elephants and everything in between; including an adorable show by two very friendly beavers who loved posing for our cameras. We’ll be back soon to see how Bao Bao is growing up and hopefully she’ll be more playful next time!
One of the great advantages of being an American University student is the opportunity to use DC as a laboratory for learning and get out into the city to attend events, volunteer, and pursue internship experiences. Last semester, I had the wonderful opportunity to intern at the Peace Corps, where I gained real world skills and office experience at an organization that I’ve long admired. Besides the work that I did, I really loved going to downtown DC several times a week and experiencing the city culture. On my lunch breaks, myself and fellow interns would often go to the nearby Farragut Square. Similar to AU’s quad, Farragut Square is usually active and full of people, especially when the weather is nice.
One of my favorite things about Farragut Square is the constantly changing, affordable food options due to the local food trucks that park nearby. Many restaurants in DC also own food trucks that serve a limited version of their menu on the go. This makes a wide variety of high-quality food available at a decent price to people stopping by for a quick lunch. Below are photos of some of the food truck deliciousness I got to experience.
As you can see, there are a lot of different food trucks with a lot of variety to offer. Food trucks are a great way to eat delicious food on an intern’s budget!
One of the best parts of my time at American University so far was my recent trip to Peru. I traveled to Peru for ten days with twelve other students in the Honors Program. A professor in the School of International Service led the trip. He just happened to be the former US Ambassador to Peru. Pretty cool, right?
We spent the first few days of the trip visiting many governmental sites in Lima, the capital of Peru. We toured the Peruvian Foreign Ministry, met with people who work at a top think tank in Lima, and visited the US Embassy. As a Political Science major, this was definitely something that captured my interest.
We spent five days in Lima touring through different historic cathedrals and visiting other sites. Lima is right along the coastline; during free time I went to the beach. This was my first time seeing the Pacific Ocean. We went to a dinner and a show one night where we watched traditional Peruvian dancing. We also visited a historic hacienda called San Jose; we toured through the catacombs underneath.
After our days in Lima, we flew south to Cusco. We traveled through the Sacred Valley to see the breathtaking mountains. One day, we ate lunch at a llama and alpaca farm. After eating, we visited the llamas and alpacas.
The highlight of the trip had to be our visit to Machu Picchu though. High up in the mountains is this ancient Inca city. The purpose of Machu Picchu remains a mystery today. We don’t know if it was a religious temple, a fortress or a just a city. The entire thing looked like a postcard; it was unbelievable.
The trip was absolutely incredible. This was my first time visiting South America. It was amazing to see how different people live in this part of the world. I challenged myself and tried many unique types of cuisine. I ate alpaca meat (pretty good!), beef heart (very tender), and even guinea pig. Guinea pig is considered a delicacy in Peru, so I forced myself to be brave and try it. It did actually taste somewhat like chicken, but I was a bit too creeped out to eat a lot of it. I’m certainly glad I pushed myself into trying new things though.
I’m beyond grateful for the entire experience. Thanks to American University, I spent my winter break touring museums, visiting ancient ruins, trying new cuisine, and having a blast in a foreign country.
After a busy first week of this spring semester, a couple of friends and I decided to go to Georgetown for the night… just to forget about school for a bit!
Georgetown is a popular hang out spot for AU students on the weekends. The city offers a variety of things to do: shopping, amazing dinning (Georgetown Cupcake and Sweet Serendipity are my favorite places to get amazing desserts! Make sure to try the Chocolate Birthday Cake cupcake if you get a chance to go to Georgetown Cupcake), movies, and there’s even a park overlooking the Harbor on K Street. And the best part is that it’s only 20 minutes away!
We decided to grab some gourmet Indian food at the Taj of India. They make the best Naan. After dinner, we immediately made our way to Sprinkles, a gourmet bakery, where we indulged in scrumptious red velvet cupcakes. Then, we concluded the night by going shopping on M Street. (or window shopping…)
I wonder what me and my friends are doing next weekend…
What a way to start finals week! Monday I experienced my first real snow day. Back home on the Coast of Mississippi, it’s about 65 degrees outside and probably won’t go below 35 degrees this winter. Needless to say, snow isn’t something I’m used to! We got about one inch of fluffy snow at AU and it was apparently obvious which students were from the South or the West Coast – they were the ones running around the Quad yelling with excitement and attempting to build snowmen from the measly one inch (I was definitely one of those people).
We are supposed to be getting three inches of snow tomorrow… I can’t wait to have a snowball fight after my English final!
For the past three months, I have been studying abroad with American University’s “European Union in Action” Program in Brussels, Belgium. As a senior in AU’s School of International Service (SIS) focusing on U.S. foreign policy and Europe, this program’s combination of intensive study of the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), internship experience, and travel across Europe is a dream come true.
In this incredible study abroad program, we focus primarily on studying the EU’s government, politics, economics and foreign policy. As the de-facto capital of the EU and home to its most important institutions, Brussels is the perfect city in which to study the exciting and fast-developing theme that is European political and economic integration. We have been fortunate enough to visit and meet with officials within the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union, two of the EU’s most important institutions.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the program is its extensive opportunities for travel across Europe. With the program, we have traveled to Luxembourg and The Hague, Netherlands to visit EU and other international institutions, including attending the proceedings of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Additionally, we recently returned from a ten-day trip through the Balkans with stops in Belgrade, Serbia; Srebenica and Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina; as well as Zagreb, Croatia in order to study the history of the 1990s wars in the Former Yugoslavia and learn about actions that the EU is taking to rebuild and integrate the region.
Additionally, Brussels’ central location within Europe makes personal travel across the continent extremely easy. With the combination of academic and personal travel, I have personally had the opportunity to visit fifteen countries over the past few months. (Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom). In fact, I am currently writing this blog post from Paris, France (1.5 hours by train from Brussels or 3 by bus)!
While I am obviously personally biased toward AU’s Brussels program, we offer over 100 study abroad options across the globe. In fact, over sixty percent of AU undergraduates study abroad at some point during their undergraduate career. So, if studying abroad is on your agenda for college, definitely consider American University!
- Nick Blake, SIS ’14