“Hey guys,” I said, “we’re literally running for Congress! Get it? We’re running towards the Capitol and that’s where Congress meets…”
“We get it Scott,” was the sensible reply from my fellow DC scholars, as we raced towards the National Mall, almost a third of the way through the 5K course
It speaks to the variety of DC that we could be visiting the Capitol Grounds one day and then running past them the next. The afternoon before the 5K, the DC scholars visited Capitol Hill to speak with congressional staffers about the process by which foreign aid becomes a part of the federal budget. Our speakers, from the Senate Appropriations Committee and the House Foreign Relations Committee, provided a fascinating look at the politics regarding the budget process and the interactions between the House, the Senate, the President, and the State Department. Needless to say, we left the Capitol with a much better understanding of the budgetary process, and the numerous voices that can influence it.
We learned so much that we all won election to Congress
The next day, we returned to the heart of the city for the 5K. The Walk to End HIV was a walk/run to raise money and awareness about the fight against HIV/AIDS and the W&M Washington Office was out in force. In total, we had six people running, two staff and four students. Arriving at the Federal Triangle metro stop, we were greeted by the sight of thousands of people committed to ending HIV/AIDS forever. At the starting line was a tent providing free STD testing, and many of my fellow runners had either battled the disease themselves or had lost someone to it. One runner’s t-shirt read, “I’m walking for my brother who died of AIDS. I’m walking with his partner, who is still alive. Together we will help end this epidemic.” It was a reminder of both the destructive nature of HIV/AIDS, but also of the amazing progress that has been made towards finding a cure. Even though many obstacles still remain, an atmosphere of hope defined the proceedings.
As the race began, we quick found ourselves separated into several groups. As we moved through the course at a brisk pace, I found myself both marveling at the beautiful weather and making puns. “Guys, we’re running a red light in front of the police, I hope we don’t get into trouble!”
“Sorry, I guess I just let my sense of humor run away from me.”
Anyone who has ever watched a distance race can testify that the mass of people running often resembles a giant wave, surging over the landscape and enveloping everything in its path. I’d run cross country in high school, but I hadn’t competed in a 5K in over two years, so it felt great to be back running again (it also helped that the coarse was pancake flat).
Despite my terrible jokes, we pressed on towards the finish line. After receiving high fives from a couple of drag queens by the East Building of the National Gallery of Art, we reached the final stretch of the race. I can’t say that we broke any records when we crossed the finish line, but it was a lot of fun. As we drank water and took pictures, I saw nothing but smiles on my fellow runners. It had been a very good morning.
The Washington Office prides itself on the quality of classes and internships that it can offer, but the program also does a great job of offering fun experiences for the students outside of the classroom. The 5K was but one of numerous opportunities the office provided to enjoy our time in the city. Thanks to the program, I’ve had the privilege to go to bowling, dinners, and sporting events (baseball and soccer) all of which have been a lot of fun (the fact that many also involved free food was also pretty awesome). I originally applied to this program for the internship experience, but I’ve ended up doing so much more, both in and out of class, then I could have ever imagined. My only regret is that, as we move towards December, my time in the program is running out (get it?).