Familiar Novelty

Posted by Matsui Washington Fellow Dasha Burns.

I have absolutely no sense of direction. I still get lost even in my own hometown. Therefore, adjusting to a new city is always a long and arduous process. I have tried many methods to get myself to better understand where on earth I’m going. I have stared at Google Maps until I was blurry-eyed, attempted to memorize every street name in the near vicinity, begged strangers for directions—you name it, I’ve tried it.

But Washington, D.C. has been a different story. I have lived here almost three months now. The time has flown by quicker than I could have imagined. At the same time, I have also become acquainted and comfortable with the city quicker than I could have imagined. Within weeks I was able to make my way around without much trouble. What has helped me overcome my deplorable sense of direction? Probably the fact that some of the most famous places in the world tend to make good landmarks for finding one’s way.

Matsui Washington Fellow Dasha Burns in front of the Lincoln Memorial

It’s even more epic in person.

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Be Present and Be Involved in D.C.

Posted by Matsui Washington Fellow Yixi Zhao.

In Washington, D.C., there are plenty of incredible things you can enjoy. For example, meeting two presidents at one time. Invited by the United States Student Association, a group of UCDC students including me were so honored to witness the State welcome French President Francois Hollande. As early as 7 a.m., we left the UC Center and headed to the White House. President Obama received Mr. Hollande at the South Lawn of the White House so all of the invited people were standing in front of either the right or left wings. The ceremony started at 9 a.m. with the military band playing the national anthems of both France and the United States, followed by President Obama delivering his welcome speech to President Hollande. I was literally standing 30 feet away from the podium where Mr. Obama and Mr. Hollande made their statements, which I believe was a once-in-a-life experience for me to be that close to two presidents at one time. In the speech, Obama impressed people with his French while Hollande expressed his pleasure, in English, to visit the United States. This was a memorable event for me and the other UC students to witness.

Washington Matsui Fellow Yixi Zhao present at the South Lawn of the White House, witnessing the State welcome President Hollande of France.

Washington Matsui Fellow Yixi Zhao present at the South Lawn of the White House, witnessing the State welcome President Hollande of France.

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Pushing and Pulling in D.C.

Posted by Matsui Washington Fellow Dasha Burns.

Dasha Burns with Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal

Matsui Fellow Dasha Burns (seated left) with Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal (seated center), the Under-Secretary-General for Public Information at the United Nations.

I celebrated my 22nd birthday this weekend. After indulging in several emotional waves of nostalgia and reminiscence, I found myself back in the present and highly aware of the current circumstances. I am twenty-two years old. I am in my final semester of college. I am in Washington, D.C. I am working as a fellow at the United Nations. WHAT? Never had I thought this time would come, or that it would play out like this. But here I am. And I have been learning more about our nation, the world, and myself in these few months than I have learned in years. Continue reading