By Taleen Simonian
Boston University, Class of 2019
ANCA Leo Sarkisian Internship Participant, 2017
Being a Bostonian means having a handful of inherent characteristics: a devotion to local sports teams, a sense of independence, and, most important, an unshakable devotion to your city. As a native Massachusetts resident and a proud student of Boston University, I’ve always felt that my state’s capital is the place I truly belong. However, upon acceptance to the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Leo Sarkisian Internship Program (LSI) in Washington, D.C., I knew that my future held a temporary relocation.
Being accepted to the program has been one of the biggest honors of my life, and I was eager to begin my work with the Armenian National Committee of America. I felt a slight discomfort knowing that I was going to be away from home and the city I love so much. Yet, with the prospect of productive workdays and nighttime adventures, I packed my bags and flew to the nation’s capital to begin a new journey.
As my plane began its descent into Ronald Reagan National Airport, the first thing that caught my eye was the Washington Monument. It stood tall and gray, parting the clouds and signaling that I was no longer in Boston. To this day, each time I see the Washington Monument, I am reminded of the moment I saw it from the sky and how it symbolized the beginning of my summer in Washington.
I knew upon arrival in D.C. that it would be difficult to open my mind and heart to a place I had never been before, but I also knew that doing so was a major part of growing up and expanding my horizons.
My first days prior to the start of the LSI program were spent exploring the city. I remember the awe I felt while staring at the White House, a building I’ve spent my life reading about in history books and looking at in other people’s photographs. It was the same for the Lincoln Memorial, a monument I have seen only on the screen of a phone or computer. The breathtaking beauty of the Georgetown Waterfront Park and the vast number of Smithsonian museums filled my heart with excitement.
The Aramian House, which housed us interns, was another incredible surprise for me. It is nestled in the perfect place, steps away from Adams Morgan, DuPont Circle, and U Street. Its location allowed me to explore the local culture of D.C., and I spent my bursts of free time taking walks in the area, window-shopping, and taste-testing the incredible cuisine offered in the countless restaurants lining the streets. It was the people within the house, however, and not the location, that made D.C. truly feel like it could be home. The support and friendship of my fellow interns was like none other.
Transitioning from one place to another can be frightening, even if it is only for a short time. Yet, to my surprise, I have taken a liking to D.C. in ways that never crossed my mind. I appreciate the pace of life. I appreciate that everywhere I go I meet a slew of intellectuals. When I get to speak to them, I learn new things and enrich my knowledge on various topics or subjects. I like D.C. because it is home to the ANCA, a place where I have learned and enjoyed myself more in one month that I could have ever dreamed.
With each passing day, I find myself discovering a new part of the city that I like. D.C. is similar to Boston in that it is rich in history and culture, but each city has a different taste. For me, Boston is familiar and reminds me of home. D.C. is new and vivid, something different. And I cannot wait for what is to come in my next month here. I have made so many new friends, I have tried so many new foods, I have enjoyed so many new experiences. I have also experienced leaving home and making a new one, even if temporarily.
I realized that to be your best self and to work to your full potential, you don’t need to be in a familiar or comfortable place. A location is a source of inspiration, not the sole facilitator of productivity or success.
Leaving your comfort zone is challenging, yes, but it is all part of the adventure.