What Goes Around Comes Around

 

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Posted by Matsui Washington Fellow Yixi Zhao.

 

 

Life has a funny way of giving back what you put out. My semester in D.C. was like that, the more I did the more I got out of my experience.  I never thought that I would be able to get into the graduate internship program at the World Bank; I never thought that I would do campaign strategy consulting with Notre Dame fellows; I never thought that I would meet life-long friends from UCD and UCSB. But I did, all because I made up my mind to take on the challenge of going to D.C. I am so fortunate that I have been able to embrace my mature and professional self!

Group photo of some of the UCDC Berkeley participants. I'm holding the Cal banner!

Group photo of some of the UCDC Berkeley participants. I’m holding the Cal banner!

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Washington, D.C. the Improv City

Posted by Matsui Washington Fellow Yixi Zhao.

As the end of the semester comes, the thing people have most asked me recently is what will I miss most when I leave D.C. I believe people have different experiences with this city, and so I would like to share my best memories of Washington, D.C.

1. Cupcakes. It has to be on your to-do list in D.C. People know about Georgetown Cupcake, Baked & Wired (B&W) and Sprinkles but have no idea how to choose. Here, let me give you some suggestions. According to size, B&W cupcakes are the largest, Sprinkles’ cupcakes are medium and then comes Georgetown Cupcake. All of these bakeries have about 15 different types of cupcakes on their daily menu, so feel free to try a new flavor every time you go. Tip: There is always a line in front of Georgetown Cupcake. The shortcut is to order online and pickup in the store without waiting, like a VIP!

Georgetown Cupcake

Chocolate Vanilla is my favorite flavor at Georgetown Cupcake

Chocolate Vanilla is my favorite flavor at Georgetown Cupcake

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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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My First Month as a Matsui Washington Fellow

Posted by Matsui Washington Fellow Yixi Zhao.

Yixi at the World Bank in Washington, DC, where she will be interning.

Yixi at the World Bank in Washington, DC, where she will be interning.

A New exploration. The main reason that drives me to participate in the UCDC program is to expose myself physically and mentally to the east coast. When I got off the plane, the breeze awakened me completely, reminding me that my journey had started!

The takeaway from the orientation was that if you saw a black helicopter above your head, yes that’s President Obama going out. As our program coordinator said, the UC Center is within a 1-mile distance from the White House, which means no one can have his/her private aircraft fly so close to the White House besides President Obama. From then on, whenever I heard the noise of a helicopter, I would look ahead and tried to locate “Marine One.” This was exciting, almost like a teen going out at night without parental consent. “Mr. President, I got you!“ I whispered. Obviously I am an experienced D.C. resident now and don’t look up anymore when I hear a helicopter’s sound, but I am really delighted to live in the hub of America.

A display in front of the World Bank in Washington, DC.

A display in front of the World Bank in Washington, DC.

What will it take to end poverty? After a week of city exploration, my internship started. Being in a new environment is never easy, but I enjoyed pushing myself out of my comfort zone. On my first day of work, I realized how educated everyone else was. I am on my way towards a bachelor’s degree, whereas it seems like everyone else holds a doctorate. I would describe my first day as overwhelming but it motivated me to learn more from my mentor as well as my colleagues. Fortunately, my colleagues are intelligent, friendly, and funny, which makes me look forward to the 3-and-a-half-month internship.

Besides interning, the seminar I am taking at the UC Center is eye-opening. Washington is the center of politics, economics, and culture, which means there are numerous hearings, press conferences, and panel speeches happening every day. The correspondents are the ones going to witness the breaking events and writing news coverage so that the whole country can be informed. My instructor of Washington Media and Politics, Marc Sandalow, is an experienced journalist who has covered the Hill and the White House. He encouraged us to explore the historic sides of the city as well as the busier side. Most of the time we can learn from the news he writes and the anecdotes he tells. The narratives of Mr. Sandalow, a dweller and journalist of Washington for more than 30 years, leaves me more fascinated about this legendary city.

Washington, DC's Chinatown on Chinese New Year, 2014.

Washington, DC’s Chinatown on Chinese New Year, 2014.

“Kung Hei Fat Chow!” The most exciting moment for me this month was Chinese New Year. At Lunar New Year’s Eve, my friends from three continentals (Asian, Australia and the North American) had an authentic Chinese dinner together. The restaurant also prepared Red Pocket, “Hong Bao,” for each of us in order to pass a good blessing for the Year of the Horse. I also carried on the tradition of hand making dumplings with all my roommates. We shared a delicious meal and our new year’s goals. I genuinely hope everyone has a year of accomplishments! Later, we went to see the New Year’s Parade at Chinatown. With the crowded mobs and laughing children, I was drawn back to my childhood. Happy Lunar New Year again!


Yixi Zhao is a UC Berkeley junior double majoring in Economics and Media Studies. She is currently studying and interning at the World Bank-Finance and Private Sector Research Group as a Matsui Washington Fellow at the University of California Washington D.C. Center.