Friday, December 6, 2013

The Start and End of a Wonderful Adventure

by Delana S., Panther Blogger

When I first started the Washington Semester Program at American University, I did not know what to expect, who I was going to meet, or what I was going to learn.  I was a little nervous, but now that it is all ending, I am a little sad about it all.

My specific program of study was Conflict Resolution in the Middle East and Beyond, which was new to me since I have not really studied the Middle East in many of my previous courses.  My professor, Dr. Mohamed Nimer, is a brilliant man who wanted our little class of eight students to truly enjoy our time in DC and experience new and exciting things.  Dr. Nimer is different from many of the professors that I have had, but he is also the same because he cares and invests so much of his time to make sure that we are truly learning and having an engaging experience in his class.  At the same time, he is very nice and generous. He has done many things to give us a taste of some of the culture and the food in the Middle East, such as providing food for us and taking us to many different restaurants. It was at these moments that I felt like I was back at Ferrum because my class has grown to be a little family and it will be hard to see everyone go.

Lunch at Hill Country with my classmates!  :)

All my classmates come from different walks of life, and each of us have a different story and career paths in mind, but it means a lot when your professor can invite your all out to dinner, look at each of you and talk about how this is the best class that he has had in the program through his years of teaching it.  He was also able to point out something that made each of us stand out in the class. I will never forget that or the past few months when we had to meet to discuss my progress and growth within the class.  I did not know much about the conflicts in the Middle East when I first started the class, but now I feel like a mini-expert. 
Puerto Rico Foreign Policy panel:  Jacob, Philip C. French,
Juan Dalmau Ramirez, Jeffery Farrow, Manuel Rivera, and me
The interns: Jacob, Alexandros, Me, Huesen, and Adrianna at
the Embassy of Brazil Holiday Extravaganza.
This is going to sound really corny and emotional, but I have cried about the fact that everything is ending and that I am leaving my internship.  In case you missed my previous blog post, I have been an intern at the World Affairs Council - Washington, DC, also known as WAC-DC.  It is a small office with a staff of only about five people not including the interns, but even with that small number of staff, we host big events that gather a lot of attention and attendance.
Panel discussion for getting chemical weapons out of Syria - with
Michael Moodie and Dr. Susan Koch.
Interns with the Ambassador of Brazil
Two of our most recent events that we held were A Holiday Affair at the Ambassador of Brazil's residence and a Luncheon with Dr. Henry Kissinger!  We partnered with the American Academy of Diplomacy to host these events.  Both events were amazing and I had the opportunity to meet so many people who want to help me in my future - it makes me a little emotional to think about it because I feel so blessed.

Interns with the Ambassador of Singapore

Me with Dr. Vali R. Nasr, Dean of the Johns Hopkins Paul H.
Nitze School of Advanced International Studies

With Alexandra Huddleston - American photographer,
self-published author, and recipient of a Fulbright grant
I love the fact that the office feels like a family, and honestly, it is a family that cares about each other to the point that they make sure that my fellow interns and I have the opportunity to talk to a variety of individuals who can give us advice and help us with our futures.  Crazy enough, I have found a career path that fits me and have made connections with people who are helping me figure out what I need to do to get to where they are. 

With American author and public opinion pollster, John Zogby
One positive aspect that comes out of leaving my internship is the fact that now I have the experience and they would let me come back to intern with them again.  Next week is my last week to be with them, and the one thing that I have been hearing is that I should keep in touch and come back if I am ever in the area.  To hear those words spoken to me shows me that I am truly valued within the organization and that they will miss me.  I know that I will see them again someday and I plan to be in touch with them, so not everything is as sad as it could be.

The interns with Dr. Vali R. Nasr
I have expressed how much the class has meant to me before and what this opportunity means, but this experience has changed me in many ways and it is for the better.  I have grown to be more confident in myself and who I want to become, which is a big deal.  I was moving toward that path already, but in the few months that I have been here, the process has moved quickly.  My professor asked me if I would have done anything differently in the program, and all I could say is that I had no regrets.  Everything happened for a reason here, and of course I made some mistakes, but I learned from all of that and without it, I would be the person I am now.

At the Embassy of Singapore
My parents have noticed a change in me and so have some of my friends who I've seen when I go home, but my friends are Ferrum are going to be a bit surprised.  I have learned a lot and it is hard to express everything in words, but I now have a lot of experience that I can apply to many different aspects of the Ferrum community and the organizations that I am involved in.  Next semester is going to be interesting at Ferrum, but I am ready for the challenge.

You never know what opportunities are going to present themselves in your life. Some might seem a little scary or too big to handle, but as long as you go for it, things will work out and the end result will be a pivotal change in your life.  The poem that best summarizes everything is The Road Less Taken by Robert Frost.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Life is a funny thing, but we have to make the most of it and I know that mine is just getting started and is full of potential.  I do not know what the future will bring for me, but I am excited for the adventure!

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