It’s hard to believe we’ve been here for two weeks-
… sometimes it feels like so much more, the daily routine: wake up at 8:00am, make breakfast, eat it while calling home before they go to sleep, get dressed, make my bag, walk to the job, say hello, sit down, turn on the computer. Working at AAAS has been very new to me, the first week my supervisor wasn’t here so Julia and I had to work on renewing a set of bibliographies and syllabi. This felt like a very repetitive task, it fed into the monotonous routine that has become my new life in DC.
… but sometimes it also feels like no time, being in DC reminds me how much I don’t know about the world around me. My whole life I’ve been taught to travel, explore, be curious- understand cultures that aren’t what I am familiar with. I’ve had the chance to explore much of the world but my experience with American culture has been the most challenging by far. Being from France is not like being from an alien world, it’s still a developed western country. But the United States never ceases to surprise and teach me new things about the world around me and also myself. Discovering DC, the stories behind the buildings and their roles as constant reminders of US’s recent history- almost as if these huge monuments were put in place as barriers preventing people from backtracking into a difficult past. The way the political institutions are carved of the people, by the people, for the people. Constantly seeing how political institutions are flawed- but then realizing maybe those flaws leave space for good things to transpire- is there opportunity cost? I’m working through realizations and thoughts and challenging my flat perception of American culture. The USA is not flat, when I first arrived to America 2 years ago I often mocked central aspects of US culture- they’re so wrapped up in their own small word they know nothing of the real one. I was judgmental because I thought I knew better, I didn’t, American culture isn’t flat, it isn’t monotonous, it isn’t a single culture- it’s so many different states, people, backgrounds, views, experiences. Exploring politics has brought this forward for me more than ever. Congress was built to represent and listen to the voices of 330 million people. Every place that I have had the chance to see in the United States is different, and locals have had different stories to tell me. I used to laugh at these people that said “oh yes I’m one eighth Irish”, but this is part of their history, part of how they found themselves in America, in this specific cultural and geographical place. The United States is 243 years old, France is 1542 years old. The United States are so young, people are finding themselves, thinking about their political system, their healthcare system, their social systems- but France is six times older than the US and is still going through the same personality crisis. Who am I to judge my culture as richer and better and older. The USA’s history and its roots is completely entrenched in my history, how it came to be and why it came to be. All these people I meet that I at some point in my life thought I had nothing in common with, I was so wrong- they’re finding themselves through their history, through understanding they’re one eighth Irish they better understand who they are and where they come from. I also want to know where I come from, born in America and trying to understanding what that means, lived and educated the French way, brought up and loved the Bulgarian way. What do those things mean about who I am? And being in DC, understanding the roots of that third of myself- understanding why this place is so particular, unique and powerful- this needs to be what I keep in mind in my next few weeks here.
My supervisor is back and she’s got us working on five different projects already, I’m going to hearings, going to talks, meeting new people, getting to know friends better… I’m starting a new life that feels like it’s been waiting for me.