Upon hearing of my acceptance onto the Washington Ireland Program I was filled with hope and excitement. Despite this excitement, I had absolutely no idea what I was excited for. However, the week that has past has eradicated this ignorance and I have been left with absolutely no margin for wondering how lucky I am or how wonderful a program WIP is.
Firstly, I have been placed with an exceptionally pleasant and generous host family in the Warners. The host family aspect of this program is one that always fascinates me and the genuine interest shown by many of the host families towards the nature and character of the interns is humbling.
I also felt extremely lucky to learn of the nature of my internship at the Department of Health. This is an extremely exciting time to be working at DHHS as the coming month will see preparations for the International AIDS Conference in Washington as well as the judgment of the Supreme Court regarding the constitutionality of the Healthcare Bill.
Throughout our first week we visited a number of DC’s key landmarks and we also had the pleasure of listening to and interacting with guest speakers of the highest caliber. A highlight of the week for many came on Monday when EJ Dionne and Mark Shields spent the afternoon talking to us about the American political system, whilst I felt particularly privileged to hear from Dean Treanor (Dean of Georgetown Law School) as he gave us a great insight into the US Constitution.
When looking for inspiration or guidance I have a habit of reverting back to sport and this week was no exception. On visiting Washington’s media museum, the “Newseum”, I stumbled upon a quote from Earl Warren, former Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court. Regarding his approach to reading newspapers, he said:
“I always turn to the sports section first. The sports page records people’s accomplishments; the front page has nothing but man’s failures.”
As the program continues, the nature of myself and several others within this program causes us to be continually self-critical and forever focusing on how we can improve. Whilst this is certainly not a bad approach to adopt in relation to one’s personal development, we will never reach a stage where we can turn around and say, “that’s it, I can’t get any better”. Essentially therefore, it is important to take time to appreciate what you have achieved and to strive to add to that list with every day that passes.
I await the challenge of the coming seven weeks with open arms!