Before I begin this entry, I must preface that I have most recently created a new email folder titled “News” in my Microsoft Outlook and though its content is currently sparse, it is a new folder nonetheless (and I do not make folders without reason). Times are changing, as are my Microsoft Outlook Email folders. Also, I’m realizing that the content of my “Class” folder (containing countless emails from professors and drafts of papers) will expectantly fill with new content in the near future as well. Not just new content in the sense of new class e-mails, but also in the sense that my new classes will reside in new fields considering my change of majors which occurred approximately 3 days ago. Outlook gives proverbial insight into my life and also into how much this summer experience has perhaps changed what messages I will send and receive in the future (It’s all clear now – Microsoft meant for “Outlook” to actually be the proverbially way of looking out on one’s life…).
Well, the insides of my real, everyday folders of life are currently overflowing with information, so much so that I have had to resort to these email folders I suppose. If I could imagine what I would write on the cover of these three imaginable folders inside my head, one would read “Stuff I think I kind-of understand,” another “Stuff that I don’t really understand but can get by,” and the third most worn-down folder would read “Rats.” It would not read rats just because rats seem to enter their way into my D.C. life quite frequently, but rather because I often says rats as a reaction to something that really doesn’t make sense (or literally… R.A.T.S. could be the equivalence of Really And Truly Shocking… for better or for worse).
Would it be correct to say that as my folders have grown, I have grown as well? That is neither here nor there. Rather, what is here, is the concrete:
I can say that I can now give insight into contemporary Cuba, which Congress members are for and which are against the end of the 53-year-old trade embargo and travel ban, and my own personal opinion regarding our U.S. policy on Cuba. When my email receives every Google alert that’s written on “Cuba” (even those regarding Cuba Gooding Jr., not to mention Cuba, Missouri), it would be an unfortunate situation had I not acquired this taste and insight on Cuba. On another work note, I have acquired a taste for Mexico, Colombia, Honduras, and other Latin American countries as well. The flavor has been quite bold, strong, consistent, and often times unfulfilling in the sense that there does not seem to be a way to make the taste less distasteful.
Another budding flavor is the fact that I sent an email to the registrar at a ripe 3 a.m. Friday morning notifying them that I was changing my major. Although keeping my Hispanic Studies major, I am dropping my 3-year-long English major as to make room for more international relations courses. Indeed I have drank the international relations Kool-Aid, and will be drinking more into the next year. Maybe I have drunken too much too fast, especially in light of a seminar week with speakers who work in foreign policy, and it sure is an addictive taste. I will “cheers” to my new decision and only hope that I will be “cheers-ing” at the end of next year.
The cherry on top on all of this savory food would have to be the people I’m surrounded by and how much flavor they add to each day here. I’m not just talking about the people at hearings, the professionally dressed in the streets, nor the senator living next door. Rather, I’m talking about those other 14 CSB/SJU students in this program. The ones who inspire me each day to learn more, to succeed, to follow my passion as they are all so clearly doing. I love meeting people who truly love what they do, and being around that each day when I come home from work could not bring a better environment to learn what motivates them, what they are working toward, and what they are hoping lies in store for them in their futures. These Bennies and Johnnies walking on their own paths, have shared some of it with me for the time being and have left me to discover politics like they have. This means reading, asking questions, promoting lively discussion, and then living out what they believe in each day. Talk about leaving a taste in one’s mouth (in this case one that is most tasty and conducive for growth… like a fine wine perhaps).
So with a priceless food that touches the taste buds and the soul, possibly being thought of as cookie dough (Sometimes it makes you sick, but you eat it anyway. You only eat it when you’re very sad or very happy and never regret it. Not to get all mushy, but the care that goes into making cookie dough with loved ones really determines whether a batch is good or not), I certainly feel full at the end of a day. There are never enough folders for the amount of learning that takes place, both on the work site learning about foreign policy issues and when I come home to learn about what all these other characters learned about during their days. It is with thanks to folders, taste buds, and great people that I am able to process this D.C. world, and I cannot express more thanks. All that made this possible are very much appreciated.
Have I grown by being here? How does one measure growth? In money, stature, laughter, or how about silence? It is in those moments of silence where I truly taste a moment that I have grown the most. Perhaps it is a silence “rats” moment. And with that, cheers to the hum of the air conditioning and more silence to come.