OutPower

Finding My Community in D.C. – Genevieve Onyiuke-Kennedy

OUT ON THE HILL is the official blog of the Victory Congressional Interns. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of LGBTQ Victory Institute.

The beginning of my trip at DC began similarly to other beginnings in my life. I did not come in with a lot of expectations, because I wanted to be as open-minded as possible. I ended my last semester at Tech with a fair amount of mental health coping skills, so I was able to have a positive outlook on my future in DC, which is likely one of the reasons why this internship and ultimately this summer experience is proving to be one of the most unique and interesting times of my life.

My introduction to my colleagues have been an unexpected learning experience. The staffers in Congresswoman Moore’s office are very casual, though I try not to be as casual so they can feel more secure in giving me projects. They have yet to give me anything big; my typical day consists of answering calls, running errands, and attending briefings. I know that assisting my staffers in specialized ways is the way to get the most out of my experience on the Hill, but I still feel that my staffers do not trust me with something important yet. My fellow interns are all very different from each other. Ultimately, this is preferable because of the different spheres of influence that they come from. The first intern I met, whom I will title First, was a very sweet and well-mannered personal. She has been a comforting presence in the office and is helpful to turn to if I am unsure about something within the office but do not have the courage to ask a staffer. The second intern, Second, unfortunately has not given me the same positive energy. This mostly stems from the fact that she has said culturally insensitive things about Africa, which have made me come to terms with how I address conversations cultural appropriation conversations in real life. She is polite, but has often times shared opinions that were unneeded and resulted in me avoiding confrontation. I think I have much to learn from Second, as her brash displays of ignorance may give me more courage to speak about my truth. The third intern, Third, is a more subdued character than the others, but is talkative on her own clock. She is a bit more pessimistic than I am about the humanity of her oppressors, which in turn allows me an easy outlet to question my rationale around certain beliefs. Third is quick to write off the ignorance of the rich, white elite and any other thought that emulates this group of people as lacking in logic or compassion, but I am a bit hesitant to jump to this bold conclusion. She too has offered me a learning experience, whether I wanted to learn. Finally, the fourth intern, or Fourth. He is a part of the LGBTQIA community like my peers in this cohort, which initially made me excited to meet him. He is a light-hearted man with bitter jokes about the current administration, which is appreciated on a slow day in the office. The staffers, including my intern coordinator, act like good friends and engage each other conversation often. Occasionally, they will engage us interns in the same conversation, but often times my colleagues and I are left to chuckle in the background. It is a bit early to cast judgement, but as of today, I am hopeful to make notable progress in Congresswoman Gwen Moore’s office.

My cohort and I have become good friends faster than I ever could have hoped. We have already shared countless meals together, had endless conversations about politics, and discussed our relationships with our specific areas of leadership in detail. I feel that I have already made a meaningful connection with everyone in the cohort, not least of all my roommates. It has been a special experience to be surrounded by queer leaders in my age group for this summer, and the bonds I’ve made already feel strong and durable. My only complaint lies within the truth that the summer will end, and I will have to say goodbye to my new friends. Of course, it is impossible to discuss my cohort without mentioning our advisor, Mario. He has already taken a loving parental role in our lives on the Hill, and has given us nothing less than our best. The support I receive from him and my peers give me perseverance during the most discouraging parts of working in politics. And with that, I would say that my Hill experience has been a positively unique time in my life.