Although I had a good first week at the internship, the second week was even better and significantly busier. The week revolved around going to four conferences, working on articles, and researching community service projects. Despite the small office, my acronym-association really does some pretty cool and important things on both the local and national levels. I’m glad to be working there and contributing in some small, intern kind of way. The work in my first two weeks makes me confident that I chose this internship over being a research assistant at a different internship I was offered.
I also took advantage of some cool DC events. On Thursday night, I went to the film selected for the Museum of African Art’s North African Film Festival. The film selected was Raja, by a French director and set in Marrakech, Morocco. At the event, I ran into someone who stayed at the same hostel in Marrakech that I did, but a few months earlier! What a small world. The film was…interesting. Dr. Valerie Orlando from the University of Maryland facilitated a thought-provoking discussion with the audience that revolved around Orientalism, who controlled the discourse in the film (and the sociopolitical context in which the film takes place), power, and agency. In addition to hosting an excellent event, the North African Film Festival gave the audience members stickers, flyers, and movie-sized boxes of candy for free. And free is like gold to interns.
Once Saturday rolled around, I went back to the National Mall and took some time to enjoy the beautiful spring weather. I stopped by the Smithsonian Castle, which was an eclectic mix of small exhibits that showcased some of the artifacts in the larger Smithsonian collection as well as history of the institution itself. The castle is cool on the outside, but a bit weird on the inside, considering that a sarcophagus containing the founder’s remains is the first thing past the front doors. After the castle, I went to the Hirshhorn’s outdoor sculpture garden. There are exhibits indoors, but I haven’t had a chance to go there yet.
After the outdoor exhibits, I went to the National Archives. The Archives are not actually part of the Smithsonian Institution, despite being surrounded by them, and is actually run by the U.S. government. I feel like the people in charge of security for the National Archives really took National Treasure seriously, because I have never been in a museum with security on par with an airport. It was really cool to see the actual Constitution (flanked by security guards) and Declaration of Independence, in addition to an amazing Civil War exhibit. I decided not to be a complete tourist so I didn’t buy the replica Declaration for the bargain price of $2.95, but I might have to go back. In other interesting souvenir news, apparently interns and staffers have to run flags up and down the flagpoles at the Capital building and these flags are available for purchase, marketed as “flags flown over the Capital.” As an intern myself, I feel like I could appreciate the story behind such a flag and really empathize with that intern.
I still had a little time to lose after all the museums closed and before meeting friends, so I went back to the favorite Barnes & Noble to finish that Kurt Vonnegut book. Of course, all the stories are excellent, but these are my personal favorites from this collection: “Tango,” “With His Hand on the Throttle,” “Ruth,” and “Out, Brief Candle.”
After finishing the Vonnegut book, I went over to Dupont Circle to meet some MSU people at Kramerbooks. Kramerbooks is a combination between a bookstore (with a pretty good selection), café, and bar/restaurant. The desserts are famous, so another trip is in order soon. In addition to dessert at Kramerbooks, a visit up the Washington Monument and the National Museum of African Art are on my list for next weekend.