Dim Sum Diaries
I wish I could truthfully write that every morning dawned with ‘The West Wing' theme song during my days in Washington, D.C. Or that I walked the hallways of the State Department talking with important people about important things. That obviously wasn't the case. The truth was I worked mostly with career bureaucrats who were great at their jobs, but it wasn’t exactly glamorous.

7:00 am - I was running late. If I didn't get out the door soon, I'd be late for work. I hastily put on my running shoes, despite it clashing horrendously with my business suit. It was the only practical way to jog the half-mile to Union Station to take the Metro to work. I lived near the poorer section of town and as I walked towards the Metro, I was always amazed by the gradually changing landscape from disheveled, poverty-stricken neighborhood to the gleaming buildings of power and manicured lawns. It was hard to believe they existed only a few blocks from each other.

8:15 am - At work now, I hurried to my desk. Today was a big day for me. A signing ceremony for a joint venture between USAID and Russia was scheduled. The fact sheets I had worked so hard on were to be distributed as part of a press kit. My boss had been kind enough to praise me my work lavishly. 'Everyone who had read them thought you did a good job', she said. My ego knew no bounds at that point. The fact sheets had been printed on official government letterhead. I was part of the propaganda machine - woo hoo! I grabbed the box of fact sheets and followed my boss to the room where the signing ceremony was to be held. The Russian Ambassador and some State Department official would do the actual signing to make the partnership 'official'.

9:00 am - I started distributing the press kits. The press who were there to cover the event looked a little bored. Okay, so the privatization of the trucking industry in Nizhniy-Novgorod was hardly exciting news, but it was certainly relevant! I handed a copy to a bored looking reporter. "This is quite helpful and informative," I enthused.

"Yeah, thanks," he said and stuffed it into his bag without even glancing at it.

Hmmm. That was kind of odd. Did he not find the population of Kyrgyzstan fascinating background material? Apparently, the reporter wasn't worried that the Russian Ambassador would ask him what the capital of Belarus was. Oh well, his loss. I moved to a corner to stand as the signing ceremony was about to begin. The State Department official made a short speech. The Russian Ambassador made a short speech. They both signed a piece of paper. Then they both smiled and shook hands as cameras flashed. Then it was over. My boss motioned me to walk with her behind the Russian contingent. I was in proximity to the Russian Ambassador! Oh the stories I could impress people with! My fingers itched to touch the hem of his coat. If I did, it would be my one brush with greatness! But I refrained, lest his burly bodyguard tackle me to the ground and accuse me of grabbing the Russian Ambassador's ass.

10:00 am - Back at my desk, it was back to work as usual. My boss assigned me a new project. Later I would pop over to the cafeteria to have some of that wonderful Caesar salad. Then perhaps I would go to the library to borrow some books on International Politics. Then it would be back to class at the Studies Program.

Being an intern at USAID was never boring.