The E.R. in VA

What a busy day in Washington, D.C.

1. There was a two-train collision on the Red Line metro (which I took today), leaving 4 people dead and 70 injured.

2. At Virginia Hospital in Arlington, there was a fire that caused all the patients to be moved into the Emergency Room.

3. In that emergency room were myself and my friend Gwen, who was admitted there due to sharp abdominal pains she had been experiencing since the morning.

They say D.C. is a busy city, and I believe it wholeheartedly now.

Despite everything that goes on here, the most enriching experience I’ve had so far has been spending time with Gwen in Rm. 7 at the ER. We had some introspective conversations that brought us to topics ranging from favorite elementary school teachers, to careers, to death. We learned the nurses’ names (Nelson, Kas, Carolina), did the crossword puzzles in magazines around us, and tried out Sudoku. This reaffirms that for me, life experience has much less to do with places or things and more to do with the people around me and the relationships that I form with them. I’ll take this to heart for when I finally start work on Friday. As an intern, I’ll most likely be doing grunt work, BUT if I can get along well with those I’m working with as well as who I’m working for, it’ll make this experience all the more worthwhile. There are tons of different personalities in D.C., and if I can get along with at least some of them, I’ll feel like I got something out of this experience.

So I have a job offer to work for AmeriCorps starting in September. The words “job offer” don’t come around too often in this economic climate, and I realize that. What it entails perfectly suits my interests, and I would be working with a close group of attorneys in the D.C./Maryland area. I’d be focusing on community development and organization, reaching out specifically to the Asian American community here.

This sounds great, right? It would give me non-competitive eligibility for federal government positions after I serve my one-year term, entail an education award to pay off student fees, and entitle me to work I am passionate about, as well as give me leadership experience in community development. Maybe give me an edge on my law school application. Sounds much better than spending time working for someone else in an office. The problem is I’m homesick. Could I imagine living out here for a year without my family and friends? I know I can take care of myself, but if something happens to me or to my family, what to do with the feeling of helplessness (as illustrated by today’s example)? Most of the time when I travel, I go through an awestruck stage, homesickness, then comfort. Since I had time to mentally prepare myself for possibly staying for a year before I left for D.C. in the first place, I bypassed the first stage. Who knows whether I’ll reach the latter.

Most people here are milking their experience here this summer because they know they’re leaving in a matter of months. I could be staying here for over a year. A few years ago, I had wide-eyed dreams of living in other countries for a while, traveling the world, and committing to years of service away from home. Now that I’m actually physically removed from my natural habitat, I’m a little disoriented. No, strike that – disillusioned.

I might be thinking about this way too much, especially since it’s the first job offer that rolled around, but there is a time limit on when I have to get back to them. Pressure’s on. In the end, the decision is my own. I just have to think it through enough so that in the long run, I have no regrets.

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