Ania Szczesniewski (Greenpeace)

Hello friends, family, and curious strangers!

Whatever your reason for seeking out this blog post, I hope you glean what you desire.

Sitting by my desk at the Greenpeace DC office, I feel tucked away from the exhausted faces, businesswear, and thump of tennis shoes power-walking down the sidewalk.

I came to this city in the fall for a three-day seminar and was exhilarated by the ambition that seemed to drive every force around me. Yet upon arriving for my two month internship with Greenpeace, I started to feel disillusioned.

I started noticing little things that spoke to larger feelings building within me. For instance, on a few occasions I’ve held the door open for people who had their hands full–a pretty simple, mundane gesture, in my experience. However every person seemed shocked, taken aback, or unreasonably grateful. Is a random act of kindness as basic as holding a door that unusual here? I was becoming nervous.

Everyone seemed to be absorbed in their own business, on their own track, blind to issues and people not relevant to their goals. It came to feel as if DC was a hotel: either you’re on a business trip or a tourist.

My outlook brightened when I ventured towards my passions. Getting involved with a community garden, attending activist protests, going on group hikes, and even just the opportunity to befriend all my coworkers–I had found the things in DC that made me feel connected, fulfilled, and happy.

I no longer think it is a negative quality for DC to act as a rest-stop for the career-driven or the vacationers. I have come to terms with the fact that I idealized DC as something it is not: a hub of ideas that are interchanged through individual-to-individual collaboration, where time was invested in passions and therefore imbued the city with a sense of excitement and joy. It’s not that these qualities are nonexistent here, but I would not call them defining.

Rather DC is more like a springboard. It is not a home, it is a band of travelers who found an oasis, and any member can pick up and truck on at any moment with little or no true attachment to the ground in this city. It’s not supposed to be a home, it’s a jumping off point. It’s the place where inspiration is supposed to hit, things are supposed to start. The journey initiates in DC but chances are it will take you far and it will take you home. DC is an invaluable resource and I shall cherish it like gold because it has everything for anyone, but I will move on from this place to bring the gifts this city graced me to parts of the world that need those treasures too.

 

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