I arrived to D.C. on the Amtrak train from Baltimore just as the blanket of night had wrapped the city. As I stepped off the train, I made my way past the life-size Obama cutouts to the exit of Union Station. There I would wait for a friend I made during the SMU-in-London program who is now working for the British Embassy.
While I was outside waiting, I noticed a trashcan emitting smoke, and within minutes the smoldering debris ignited into a fire that rose three feet above the garbage can. As I reflect on those flames, I find them rather ironic, because it was the first of many fires that have captured my attention during the “Hilltop on the Hill” program.
The fires that I speak of are metaphorical, of course, but they are fires that have been lit in my consciousness. For example, after I met up with my British friend, Max, he began to tell me about his internship at the British Embassy. He explained that earlier that day he was at a meeting in southern Virginia with a senator discussing matters of homeland security and later found himself in the room with the British ambassador to the U.S. Max is only an intern, but he is in the room with many important political figures as they discuss major policy decisions.
(In photo: Creighton and Dan Schill, CCPA assistant professor.)
Something inside me sparked, and I could not wait for the rest of the week, as I began to feel that the Capitol has the fast-paced and influential life I have a longing for.
The next day we traveled to several different offices, but there was one in particular that caught my interest. At Glover Park, Kristine Mitton introduced me to the field of political advocacy advertising. About two years ago, my political fire was ablaze and I thought D.C. was where I wanted to be, but as I learned more about the political process, that fire was snuffed out as I did not want to ascribe to one party or the other – I was more interested in deciding the issues than deciding my side of the aisle.
Mitton rekindled that fire as she explained her job as a person who is not affiliated with either party; instead she works on single issue campaigns rallying the support of both sides of the aisle.
While my interest in political advocacy advertising burned anew, a fire that was already burning became hotter and brighter from listening to Terri Donofrio speak about giving Holocaust survivors the idea of conveying experiences of the voiceless. It dawned on me that this is an area of utmost importance to the honors thesis I am currently working on, and it is also something I have always enjoyed. So, while this fire was underneath the surface, Donofrio exposed it and added a little fuel that made it burn the brightest SMU blue.
Stepping out of Union Station I didn’t realize that fire in a barrel would have such a metaphorical meaning, but I can gladly say there are a number of fires now burning that I won’t be trying to extinguish.