Summer job in nation's Capitol expands horizon
WHEN my brother became 16, he was willing to take any job as long as it was not at a fast-food restaurant. He applied at many establishments and, in the end, found himself flipping burgers anyway. Although my brother has moved on to bigger and better things, he and my mom have always told me that I, too, would end up at a fast-food restaurant for my first job. Well, this summer, I'm glad to have proved them wrong.
I recently returned from my first job in Washington, D.C., as a Democratic House page. While many of my peers at home were trying to get out of work by calling in sick, I woke up every morning excited to go to work. I proudly put on my coat and tie and walked those great steps through the entrance of our nation's Capitol.
I loved every aspect of my job. I love the people I met, the lifelong friends I made and especially the cafeteria food. Although I didn't have much luck finding white rice in the Capitol, a sandwich, salad and froyo (frozen yogurt) was more than enough to satisfy my Asian appetite.
COURTESY ANGELIE ANGELES
Angelie Angeles posed with Rep. Neil Abercrombie on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, D.C.
WHILE WORKING, I met many influential people. Some of my favorite lawmakers include Rep. Mike Honda of California, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, and, of course, Hawaii's own Rep. Neil Abercrombie. Apparently, Congressman Abercrombie is very popular with young people like me, as I was told time and time again by my peers how lucky I was to be sponsored by him.
The Democratic House page desk is situated right on the House floor, so I heard a lot about all the bills that were being presented during those three weeks. The bills that brought the most controversy were the War on Terror resolution and a bill about a salmon shortage in California.
On the war resolution, House members held a 10-hour debate, and practically every congressman and woman who spoke on the floor said nearly the same thing: that our troops have served their country well and that we need to determine a strategy to bring them home. The California salmon debate was especially memorable because it escalated almost to a point where Democrats and Republicans engaged in battle on the House floor regarding the fish shortage.
THE THING I'LL miss most about my stay in D.C. was the friends I made. I not only have friends in Hawaii, but all over the country -- from Hayward, Calif., to as far away as Knoxville, Tenn. The craziest thing I did with my friends was free-falling 173 feet above the state of Virginia in Kings Dominion Amusement Park. Definitely something I'll never forget. Our dorm director told us that we would make life-long friends in this program. At first, I did not believe him since the program lasted only three weeks, but when we lived and worked together 24/7, we became really close. To this day, we still keep in touch, via cell phone, instant messaging or e-mail.
Ever since I started high school, I have been trying to find ways to make these years worthwhile. I wanted something more out of my high school years than just good grades. Spending the summer in D.C. has been a life-changing experience, and if given the chance, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Many students believe that being successful in high school is getting good grades, National Honor Society, community service, AP classes, being in sports, just being the classic overachiever. Success to me means more than being a well-rounded student. It means doing something not everyone can do. It means taking a chance and stepping out of my comfort zone. I want those once-in-a-life-time experiences, and I most certainly believe that this is one that I'll never forget.
Angelie Angeles goes to Waipahu High School, where she will be a senior next year.