Friday, March 12, 2010

A Place to Call Home

Two weeks after my big move to D.C., and I can't believe the smooth, charmed transition I have had. I've been so showered with blessings that I find myself semi-suspicious of my fortune. Life has taught me that the good is only that way because it is spattered with bads. The good that has come my way in the last three years has quickly been followed with storm clouds. So, at this high point, I can't totally smother the voice that advises caution in my exuberance. "Humility, humility." After all, when it's good it's only down from there. But seeing as this blog has recorded its fair share of sorrowful entries, I think it's high time for a mention of the bundle of goods that has befallen me.

Immediately upon arriving to D.C., something felt like home. Unlike all of my other trips to new places, I felt an absolute calm in my new surroundings. A sureness. Yes, this is exactly where I need to settle for awhile. All of the acronyms that move in my head were suddenly buildings before my eyes: WB (World Bank), IMF (International Monetary Fund), NSA, NGO, IRC, IDB, etc. People were out and about, walking the busy sidewalks, eating lunch in the plazas and parks, running the National Mall, kite-flying around the monuments, walking home with totes of groceries. The vehicle is not god here. Plastic bags cost money, encouraging people to use more environmentally sustainable methods to carry home groceries. Organic food, when bought strategically, is as reasonably priced as the other stuff; I finally get to eat organic!!! Despite all the stereotypes I have heard over the years, I have yet to find this East Coast big city any more unfriendly than a big city in the Midwest. Rather, I have been pleasantly surprised by the friendliness in residential areas.

Much credit of this easy transition goes to my hosts. They have been incredibly generous, to the point where I have started to feel like a member of the family. I am staying with the parents of a friend I made while in Nicaragua. They have listened to my stories for two weeks now and discouraged any of my rushing through this process. They have given me my own room to stay in, bathroom to use, food to eat and all of the information I needed to familiarize myself with D.C. They've been my cheerleaders as I landed a coveted internship and, recently, a job.

The internship. I am smiling so big right now. The International Rescue Committee is an international humanitarian relief non-profit that I have watched for years. Beginning in my college days, I would frequently look at its career opportunities and conjure up what it would take to land a position with them. It was a far off dream (still smiling). They are in Haiti, the DRC, Somalia, Sudan, Myanmar and 37 other war-torn, post-disaster and/or severly poverty stricken countries. My internship is part of their domestic work - resettling refugees. It's a foot in the door and it's work that I am passionate about. After years of being a newcomer in a country and the recipient of open arms and homes in a foreign land, I cannot wait to do the same for others.

As of yesterday, I also have a job that pays the bills - waitress at a fine dining restaurant in downtown D.C. called Café Atlántico. Not only is it Urban Latin American cuisine, it's a place to keep up on my Spanish.

Finally, I have been accepted into an association called the Young Professionals in Foreign Policy, present in DC, New York, London and Brussels. It is full of young people like me, trying to get into the international career world while enjoying speakers, political events, happy hours, job fairs and mentoring from professionals who have been in the field for 20+ years. So when I'm not working (and, yes, I'll be working a lot) or taking salsa dancing classes, I'll have the opportunity to meet people like me.

In a matter of two weeks, I have set up a life that I am really, really excited about. If that isn't a sign that I am meant to be here, I don't know what would be.

Now, about where to live . . .

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