My First Month in DC
July 31, 2017 | Nermina Aly, 2017 AAPD Summer Intern
“D.C. is going to be an amazing experience for you Nermina.” This is what friends and family would tell me when I would share the news with them that I was accepted into the AAPD internship program. I never quite understood why they would say this. Don’t get me wrong, I was thrilled to start this chapter of my life in a new city, but maybe it hadn’t hit me yet that I would have the time of my life and learn a great deal about the disability community. Well, now I know what they meant.
It has been a month since coming to Washington D.C. and honestly I never felt more free. I may have to do with the fact that I am in the Capitol of the free world. It may also have to do with the fact that I have been immersing myself in the large disability community here and learning that the ADA is only the beginning—this community has come far, yet we are no where near the light at the end of the tunnel.
In this time in our nation’s history, it is to no ones surprise that there is a great divide in our country’s beliefs and values. A topic that is very near and dear to my heart since my exposure to the disability community and interning in a democratic office is the AHCA. D.C. has been an invaluable experience mostly due to the fact that I am getting to interning for one of my heroes and a very loved figure in the disability community, Senator Tammy Duckworth.
Working in in the press pit, I am witnessing the Senator speaking out against the bill and chance she gets—a true inspiration for all people with disabilities. Moreover, as a press intern, working in a political environment has opened up my interest in politics and policy making in ways I could not imagine. Simply just living and working in the nation’s capitol means that you are in the heart and center of all the politics and legislation that serve as the foundation of this great nation-whether good or bad.
Also, working in a Senator’s office daily, I am reminded of the consequences that Trump Care would cause to 50 Million Americans with disabilities who rely on Medicare and preventive care measures to live their lives as healthy as they can be. As this whole debacle is put on pause for a little while, I can feel the tension on the hill easing up a little bit. Personally I think to myself, what can I do—I am but a measly intern after all—the bottom of the political food chain. What must be done? Although I am an intern, I feel as if I am playing my part. I have attended two rallies, answered constituent phone calls, and am constantly speaking out against the injustices facing those who are disabled while empowering my friends and family to do the same. Spread the word through social media; I believe in the power of a group of people fighting against a common cause. The ADAPT demonstration is just one example of how the efforts that the disability community is engaging in to help ensure that such a detrimental bill is never passed. I will make the most of my time here in D.C. learning what I can, having a little fun from time to time, and being an advocate for this disability community. People were right all along, D.C. had been an “amazing experience” but more than that, it has greatly intensified a dim political flame in me that I have been carrying for a while now.
Now that I have a scorching flame running throughout my veins, I will stand up and fight. The question is, will you?
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Nermina Aly is a 2017 AAPD Summer Intern placed with Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL).