"Small-town girl" lives and learns from D.C


Driving into Washington D.C. just two short months ago, I could never have expected what I'm experiencing here in the city. Sophomore year, I had the idea that ‘off-campus' clearly meant Europe or somewhere far away where I would have to learn a whole new culture and feel estranged for weeks. Being a Media Fellow student and having the requirement of an internship, I quickly began searching for abroad programs. However, my plans changed. So, somewhat reluctantly, I made the decision last semester to travel a measly 10 hours from the infamous Greencastle, Ind., to D.C. to work for Amnesty International. Part of me thought I was setting myself up for a high-strung internship in a city of politics that would leave me in over my head.  And the other part of me was thrilled to be getting out of Indiana.

Let me take a few steps back and first say I love Indiana. I'm a small-town girl at heart who grew up for most of my childhood on sweet corn, the woods and collecting eggs from the chicken house with my grandma. Ironically, I'm also not a complete foreigner to a big city. New York has a special place in my heart along with the fast-paced lifestyle that engulfs any visitor. With that said, I thought I knew what I was getting myself into when coming to D.C.

But, really, who was I kidding? If living exactly two blocks from the capitol wasn't enough of a shock I was surprised to be greeted by my pot-luck roommate, a DePauw senior. Small world, I'd say. DePauw students have this special bond that no matter where we are, we tend to flock together. So, I spent the first month being a classic tourist with my roommate and two more DePauw students who we discovered also lived in our building. We definitely brought Winter Term fun to a whole new level.

I've also quickly learned that D.C. is a come-and-go place. My DePauw friends only stayed for Winter Term and I was left to gain new friendships. Little did I know the people I was about to become friends with were some of the most diverse individuals I've ever met. The joy of meeting others from places such as Poland, Australia, the United Kingdom and numerous other states has truly been an incredible experience. It breaks my heart to realize that some of these people I may never see again.

Obviously, working at Amnesty International I have been introduced to activists with an extreme passion for global change. My work place has given me the opportunity to open my eyes to a variety of world issues that I'd say I was somewhat blind to before. It has been a truly surprising experience as an intern at Amnesty. Between my incredibly understanding supervisors and the life-long intern friends I've made, it is beyond easy to express my satisfaction with my decision to come to D.C.

Living on ‘The Hill' and being a part of such a historical city has honestly been an exceptional occasion. No, I'm not exploring Rome or England on the weekends, but I am learning a whole new lifestyle.  And trust me people definitely know the ‘work hard, play hard' motto that DePauw accepts so enthusiastically. Although, suffering withdrawal from Marvin's mac bites and Frank's fries are enough to drive someone crazy, it's not enough to make leaving this place enjoyable. With just less than two months left, I'm trying so desperately to live in the moment and soak up as much D.C. culture as possible – even if visiting Georgetown Cupcakes is cliché. As hard as it will be to leave the wonderful people and places in D.C., it's comforting to know I'll be coming home to one year left at a school like no other.   

- Kestler is a junior from Columbus, Ind., majoring in communications. features@thedepauw.com