Student Life: Finding a Church in DC

In this post we hear directly from ASP student Peyton Smetana.  He describes what it’s like to be new in the city, as well as what it’s like to look for and find a church home.  

peyton-ccc-e1544387531470.jpgIf you are anything like me, and there is the chance there are a few of you out there, you are currently in an odd place in your faith. On top of that, you are looking at the American Studies Program, a semester-long program based on conversations on the intersection of faith and politics. What could be better than learning about faith in politics in a time where you are uncertain of your own religious beliefs? Uhhhh…I really wasn’t sure. After arriving in DC, I didn’t feel ready to engage in church along with the intense conversations we already had during the week at ASP.

There were many things I was not certain about coming into my semester in the American Studies Program: who my friends were going to be, where I will go out for dinner, will I meet the love of my life, and will my political beliefs change? Out of all the uncertainty, I was certain about one thing: I was not going to church.

Certainly God had a different plan for me.

I went to church the first weekend I was in DC, and it was the first time I attended in months. The first weekend I went to church in DC was not to listen to the pastor, but rather an attempt to get to know my newly found friends from the program on a more personal level. It was the next weekend, with the same motive as the first, where God’s plan began.

I know it’s cliché to say it felt like the pastor was speaking directly to me, but it did, and for the next few weeks it continued to feel as if every sermon were meant only for my ears.

Christ City Church offered me a place of restoration and community each week. At the end of a hectic week of work, school, and trying to see and do as many things as possible in this city, Christ City gave me an opportunity to reflect, relax, and rejoice in the blessings and sovereignty of God.

It also provided a place to meet and learn from people of the widest array economically, culturally, and politically. Through the wide swath of prominent differences, the common thread of loving Christ is what continued to catch my eye and rope me in.

Reconciling a relationship with God can be scary, but finding a place to safely grow at your own pace makes all the difference. If you are new to the American Studies Program, or Washington, DC in general, find a church community that reflects the type of person you want to be. You truly will not regret it.

Internship Spotlight: Ellie Murphy

In order to learn about what our students think about their internships, we like to hear directly from them. Gabrielle Murphy, a student from Olivet Nazarene University, is currently interning on Capitol Hill in a Congresswoman’s office.

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Ellie’s office asked her to attend an event at the Supreme Court.

Where are you currently interning and what is the day to day like in the office?

I have the privilege of interning in the office of Congresswoman Jackie Walorski. Each day is different is the office, but it is always exciting! When Congress is in session, one can expect to go from briefings to collecting signatures from other Representatives to delivering paperwork to the cloakroom, or even sitting in on hearings for the Ways and Means Committee. When Congress is in recess, one can expect to be communicating with constituents and preforming policy research. 

What has surprised you about working on the Hill?

I was definitely not expecting such a sense of community on the Hill. Oftentimes, D.C. is depicted as overly competitive. But there is a feeling of inclusiveness within my office, and you feel as though you are a part of a little family. I learned quickly that the Hill is a very small place, and you will get to know many individuals from various sectors of the legislative branch during your time here. The Hill also has a strong Christian presence with plenty of Bible studies and briefings that tackle how faith and policy intersect. 

What would you want future ASP students to know before they arrive in D.C.?

Prior to coming to D.C., students should know they will be challenged professionally, spiritually, and emotionally. This time is unlike a typical college semester. You are learning firsthand what it means to live on your own, but with the benefits of being in a community. This will be the most transformative semester of your college career, and will help you to answer some of the deeper questions of your identity and vocational goals that are sure to surface. Develop meaningful relationships both at the Dellenback and at your internship, explore everything the city has to offer, and know that you are not here by accident!

ASP Welcomes Our Fall 2018 Cohort

We are having a blast with our Fall 2018 group of students.  This semester, students from all over the country have joined us here in Washington, DC for the Public Policy course as well as intensive internships.  Students will intern at law firms, Capitol Hill Senate and Congressional offices, think tanks, nonprofits, and even the Department of Justice.

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Over the past two weeks, our ASP staff have worked to build a firm foundation for the students before they begin their internships around the city.  To strengthen the students’ knowledge of the city, the group explored DC on foot, by bus, by bike, and by Metro to put into practice the information from their orientation sessions (“stand on the right, walk on the left!”).  Here we are on the way to Eastern Market to catch the bus!

After a day of discussions about the importance of investing in the city, especially the difference between federal Washington and the city of D.C., the students took in a free concert overlooking the Anacostia River in the bustling new neighborhood of Navy Yard.  We were lucky to get to see the U.S. Navy Band’s Country Current on such a beautiful evening.

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And last but not at all least, students took professional head shots for their new LinkedIn profiles.  Orientation emphasizes the importance of establishing personal relationships as part of the networking process.  Online networking is also so important, and the students’ profiles are ready to wow everyone who looks them up in the future.  Stay tuned to learn about the students’ internships and how much they will learn here in the nation’s capital.

 

Internship Spotlight II {Fall 2016}

Hannah Wardell, Gordon College

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As a Values & Capitalism intern, Hannah helped plan several events and was even able to attend an AEI event in Boston.

I spent my semester interning at Values & Capitalism, an initiative of the American Enterprise Institute doing outreach to Christian college campuses. V&C exists to proliferate dialogue about the morality of free enterprise and the theological implications of capitalism on college campuses. I’ve spent my semester not only helping with event planning, content creation, and program administration, but also getting to be involved with the conversations happening in the Christian intellectual community.  As a part of a think tank, V&C has the ability to bring together thought-leaders for conversations about faith and public life, like when pluralism scholar John Inazu gave the keynote presentation at our Fall Summit in October. Working at V&C affirmed my desire to work in the context of theology and public life and gave me a practical look at how that’s done by way of high education programming.  It also showed me just how impactful a small department of dedicated and entrepreneurial people can be at engaging culture and how pivotal Christian higher-ed is in that culture.  I’m leaving DC with a better sense of the work I want to do and the kind of people I want to do it with, and I’m thankful to Values and Capitalism for showing me that!

Devin Hill, William Jessup University

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Devin (second from left) with other DNC interns in front of a campaign bus.

This semester I had the opportunity to intern with the Democratic National Committee in the Compliance Department. In the Compliance Department, I learned about financial compliance and ethical regulations. My day-to-day tasks included vetting donors, event attendees, and even possible candidate endorsements. While I was specifically in this department, I had many opportunities outside of it that were major highlights such as: helping with the digital team at the headquarters during the debates, meeting with senior officials, going to staff meetings with the DNC Vice President, and even helping track the polls on election night.

Being able to have this internship has taught me two major lessons. The first thing I learned is to try for the things that you think are out of your reach. When I first heard about the possibility to intern with the DNC, I did not think I was at all good enough to get this internship. But I knew that if I did not apply, I would regret it forever. When you are applying for an internship, do not just go for the safe ones; go for the crazy, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. You are probably much more qualified than you give yourself credit for.

The other major lesson that I learned through this internship is to be flexible. When I first accepted this opportunity, I was placed in the Political Department. But less than a week before my start date, they moved me into Compliance. To be honest, I was a bit let down when I first learned about the change. Now that it is over, I can say that I probably learned more in the Compliance Department than I would have in Political. Your future internship will not look exactly how you imagine it, but that does not mean that it will not be an amazing opportunity.

Derek Ross, Simpson University

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Derek at his internship site, located only a few blocks from the White House.

This semester I had the wonderful privilege of interning for the ONE Campaign, a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization that is focused on ending global poverty and preventable diseases. My role as an intern was to help with the research and gathering of data for the relaunch of a nationwide campaign for 2017, as well as helping the implementation and field work for a campaign during the 2016 election season. As a part of my internship, I also was blessed with the opportunity to travel to Atlanta and Orlando for work.

When I first accepted my internship, I wasn’t too sure what I would be getting myself into.  Before coming to DC, I was determined to get an internship focused on sports management. However, when God placed this opportunity in front of me, I decided to run with it and trust that he had an amazing plan, and that he could use me in exciting ways at the ONE Campaign. I am truly blessed to have gotten the opportunity to serve the ONE Campaign and have this real-world exposure for what it is like to research, plan, and implement a nationwide campaign for an organization here in DC. If I had one piece of advice to give to someone looking into the ASP program, I would say trust God and take the risk, because it is so worth it.

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Want to have your own D.C. internship experience? Click here to start an application!

Internship Spotlight I {Fall 2016}

Jake Hemme, Biola University

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Jake (left) with the Chief Prosecutor in charge of extraditions from the Canadian Department of Justice.

I have the distinct honor this semester to intern at the Office of International Affairs (OIA) at the U.S. Department of Justice. This office is charged with the responsibility of executing the extradition and mutual legal assistance proceedings between the U.S. and our foreign counterparts. Simply put, if a state prosecutor needs a suspect or piece of evidence that is in Canada, our office prepares the assistance request in accordance with the treaty, and then we work with the State Department to facilitate the extradition or evidence transfer. I am on the team that works with Canada and the English-speaking Caribbean countries, with six veteran prosecutors and two paralegals. My job, specifically, is to be the right-hand man for all of the staff on my team. I regularly analyze cases, pouring through police reports in order to identify the inconsistencies and missing links in the case facts. I also attend inter-agency meetings with the State Department, FBI, and U.S. Marshals, learning more about how the agencies interact with one another. Perhaps the best part of my internship is the opportunity to work on real-life cases. My intern supervisors do not believe in giving interns “grunt work;” they want me to play an active and significant role in a variety of cases ranging from fraud schemes to terrorism and murder cases. Not only am I developing skills that are relevant to law school and a career in law, but I am also developing an understanding of the delicate balance between law and diplomacy. I leave work each day with a sense of gratitude, knowing that I am part of an effort to make this deeply flawed and broken world just a little bit better.

Hosanna Unom, Gordon College

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Considering a career in law, Hosanna is interning at a lobbying branch of a Minnesota-based law firm.

This semester, I am interning at Lockridge Grindal Nauen, a small lobbying branch of a larger law firm that is based in Minnesota; most of the clients we represent on the Hill have ties to the state. In my first week, I helped organize and host fundraising events for two of the Minnesota members of the House Representatives. Since then, my daily tasks have included compiling daily and weekly news articles for client updates, preparing and editing documents for meetings and conferences, and doing research on various issues of concern for our clients. Working at LGN has challenged me in new ways that that have helped me grow professionally, personally, and socially. The office is smaller than I would have expected, but that has allowed me to get to know my co-workers better and learn a lot about myself. One of my favorite things about working within such an intimate office culture is how intentional everybody is about making me feel a part of the entire work environment. I have been able to learn so much about the law-making process within Congress and the role that lobbyists play in that, and that has sparked my interest in similar fields. As I approach graduation, I hope to find a job similar to LGN where I can continue to use what I have learned this semester, as well as grow personally and professionally in the work that I love.

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Want to have your own D.C. internship experience? Click here to start an application!

Neighbors Take the Bus

The Fall 2016 Semester of the American Studies Program—our 40th anniversary semester—is off and running!

One of the first things ASP students do upon their arrival in DC is participate in what we call a “Bus Day.”  Bus Days organize students into small groups and an Instagram photo scavenger hunt contest sends them off to discover the less-explored features and history of different DC neighborhoods.

The central purpose of this exercise is neighborhood engagement.  ASP students are not tourists; we are residents and we want them to be a part of the neighborhood.  The exercise allows students to personally interact with the Washingtonians living and working in these neighborhoods: visit the corner grocery store; interact with parents in the park; speak with the security guard at the bank; and eat at the family-owned restaurant.  The lessons learned from these exercises stick with you, informing our growing understanding of the importance of “place” to one’s sense of calling and responsibility.

This semester, for their first Bus Day, our students were tasked to visit all four quadrants of the city—Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, and Southwest.  This included visits to the Brookland, U Street, Navy Yard, and Anacostia neighborhoods, among many others.  See below for some of our favorite photos!

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Hosanna Unom (Gordon College) taught her bus group how to eat with their hands at an Eritrean restaurant in the Adams Morgan neighborhood.

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(Left to Right) Abby Morris (Milligan College), Anna-Monet Hartman (Northwest University), and Shea Fordham (Vanguard University) check out an expressive mural on Georgia Avenue.

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(Left to Right) Derek Ross (Simpson University), Shannon Hogan (Oral Roberts University), and Derrick Adams (The King’s University) take a rest at Suns Cinema in Mount Pleasant.

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(Front to Back) Abigail Nyberg (Whitworth University), Arilda Lleshi (LCC International University), Wesley Duncan (Oklahoma Christian University), and Jeremiah McCoy (Messiah College) explore the Anacostia neighborhood.

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(Left to Right) Ethan Peterson (Bethel University), Danielle Harrington (Vanguard University), Jake Hemme (Biola University), and Jessie McBirney (Biola University) stop for a pose at The George Washington University in Foggy Bottom.

Follow all of the Bus Day fun on Instagram by searching for #ASPtakesDCfa16!  And stay tuned for more blog posts to come!

Spring 2014 in Review: GDE Meets with Ugandan Ambassador

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Spring 2014 ASP student Nicole Noyes (Cedarville University) participated in the Global Development Enterprise track, working with two other team members on researching biofuels in Uganda.  As part of her internship with Values & Capitalism at the American Enterprise Institute, she met Ugandan ambassador Oliver Wonekha and set up a meeting with her for the GDE team.  GDE track director Gerry Hartis comments, “Nicole’s connection with Ambassador Wonekha is just one example of the opportunities that the Global Development Enterprise team has for engaging directly with leaders of the developing world here in Washington.”

“Ambassador Oliver Wonekha of Uganda was kind enough to meet with me to discuss the empowerment of Uganda’s women through investments in agriculture and energy,” Nicole said.  “She described the living conditions of rural families, the role of women in the country’s economy, and other pressing policy issues in Uganda. We look forward to sustaining this exciting relationship with the Ugandan Embassy.”