Welcome to Wherever You Are

September 6, 2016

Right after my summer classes ended on August 12th, I jumped straight into finishing The West Wing, starting House of Cards and watching re-runs of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. I watched as much political TV shows as my body could handle to properly amp myself up for my semester in DC. I couldn’t believe that I would be in DC during this year’s wild election. I’ll be ready this November to work in government or immigrate to Canada; in case of a Trump-elected-emergency, save me Justin Trudeau!

Now that I’m in DC, I realize no amount of Netflix could match my excitement for exploring and working in the city. My first few days here in DC, I walked to as many places as possible. I noticed monuments, museums and buildings dedicated to social causes sprinkled all over the city. I was reminded that access to the heart of our nation ultimately rests here. On Sunday, I went to the National Gallery of Art and was blown away by the number of exhibits and the beautifully organized displays. I was there for 3 hours and I still couldn’t finish viewing all the pieces. I plan on returning and visiting the rest of the Smithsonians, especially the new National Museum of African American History and Culture that is opening in 3 weeks. 

As for my internship, I don’t think I’ve ever loved an internship this much. I work at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Independent Expenditure (DCCC IE). The DCCC is a part of the DNC that is focused on supporting Democratic congressional members' campaigns. However, because of campaign finance laws, the DCCC has an independent expenditure branch that splits off from DCCC a few months before the congressional elections. The split ensures that there won’t be any communication. 

I love this internship because there is something new every day; there's a plethora of moving parts in a multitude of districts that the department is watching. I expected a high learning curve considering the amount of battleground districts the DCCC IE would be interested in supporting. The learning curve is surprisingly manageable; however, I still plastered my dorm wall with districts and candidate names so I could understand at least a little bit of what my co-workers are talking about. Speaking of my co-workers, whenever they speak about politics whether it is at the national or at the district level, there’s an energy in their voice that also energizes me. I don’t think I’ve ever been in such a lively work environment. (It might help that there is a more casual dress code than that on the Hill.) In the past 4 days, I’ve learned so much and worked on a variety of behind-the-scene campaign factors that aren’t usually seen: from drafting polls, poll data, political advertisement drafts to the final TV or mail advertisement. I feel like Ariel every day I work at the office; every day is full of ‘whozits’ and ‘whatzits’ that I’m ready to learn about. I could see myself being a part of this world. 

I can’t wait to see what the next three months have in store for me. Although with every new venture, there are times when I’m walking down the street and the unknown looming overhead seizes me. However, every time, without fail, before I can think twice about turning away, I find something worth advancing forward for.

headshot of Lydia Xia

Lydia is a fourth year pursuing a double major in political science and legal studies. She spent her first three years at Cal exploring the legal field, from her presidency in Law in Practice to working as a JusticeCorps member at the Oakland Superior Courthouse. Although these experiences brought her much personal growth, she realizes a career in law may not be for her. Lydia is looking forward to finally exploring the field of politics beyond her coursework. While she is in DC for the fall 2016 UCDC program, she will be researching the causes for political partisanship, specifically the role of money in causing the divide. She is excited for the new experiences awaiting her in DC. "I am really thankful to the Matsui Center for providing me with this amazing opportunity."