This morning in Dublin my sister and her husband welcomed a new 5lb baby girl into our family . Here in Washington, a week in Manhattan has left me feeling not only 5lbs heavier, but also somewhat new. That might explain why, as I hopped onto the shuttle bus from Dupont to the Lombardi Center, I was hit by a pang that felt strangely like the anticipation of going back to school after summer holidays. I had to repeat junior infants (a character-forming experience for any four-year-old) but every year after that I enjoyed going back to school at the end of a long break. I was caught off-guard by this feeling today because I’ve only been away from my internship for a week. When I stopped to think about it, though, I had reasons to feel like it was the first day back at school. I had stories to tell from my ‘holiday’ in New York. I was getting back into a routine. I was looking forward to seeing how my workmates (and the mice in my breast cancer trial) were getting on. Mainly, though, I think that feeling stemmed from the reflection that was a large theme of the New York week’s programme. The opportunities I’d had for reflection- whether in Tuesday’s whole-group, structured session at Glucksman House or during an impassioned conversation with three of the lads outside our hostel at 6 on Friday morning- made me feel like I’d gained at least three months’ maturity in just a three days. This is due in no small part to Louise Little, of Beyond Walls, who joined us to facilitate the formal sessions in a way that elicited honest and constructive reflection from the majority of the class. I put her ability to do this partly down to how articulate she is around emotion and partly to her ability to disenthrall a room of 37 ‘young leaders’ in suits from their professional selves for a few hours. In contrast to my school days, instead of three months’ rest, I’m running today on just three hours’ sleep from Saturday night and five from last night. I’m reluctant to sleep because New York has reinvigorated an awareness of the myriad opportunities the remaining time in DC presents. Instead of a whole nine months of school year I have just three weeks to make the most of this programme. I know now not to let a single day of the remaining twenty slip by unchallenged. This urgency has also been partly inculcated by the experiences other people on the programme shared during our reflective sessions; a mighty impetus for self-improvement. I’ve reminded myself what I wanted to get from this 8 weeks, back when I was in Belfast in May. I’ve also made something of a bucket list of things to do before I leave DC. Breakfast at a classic American diner and a trip to the zoo have each been ticked off in the past 24 hours. Twenty things and twenty days before my WIP bucket gets kicked: I just hope I’m more successful than was my first attempt at junior infants.