May 30, 2012

My Capital Commencement

By James Keating, U.S. Grains Council Intern

Adapting to a fresh environment far from home takes a certain kind of fortitude. Yesterday was my first day interning at the U.S. Grains Council and only my second day in the District of Columbia.  Although I am just removed from four months abroad in Latin America, D.C. is a different kind of beast; it is extremely easy to be intimidated by the complexity of the situation. For example, the metro is the only legitimate means of transportation for anyone non-local into the city, and the outlandish cost of living forces subtle poor students like me to the margins of the metropolitan area, thus making for a long commute. Not to mention, when all is said and done I will be 7 months removed from home.

Despite any intimidation or lack of comfort, I am well on my way to the independence I desire and I am definitely experiencing a honeymoon period with our nation’s capital. I have been spending any of my free time mastering the metro and exploring my neighborhood of Fairfax, I have yet to see any nationally recognizable monuments even though I can literally see the Capitol from my office. There will be plenty of time for exploration, but for now it is essential I get settled into my living and working situations. George Mason University (which is across from my townhouse) is satisfying enough for my exploration needs, at least for my first week.

As for the Grains Council, I have to admit my honeymoon period has a lot to do with the people in my office. Although I have only been here one day, the people have been unbelievably great to me and I earnestly believe in their open door gestures. While the office has many different personalities, they have all made me feel at home already and I am comfortable working with any of them formally, informally, and socially although it has only been one day.

As for my duties, I have just only begun to learn the ropes, thus I have only mastered small office duties like the copy machine and processing invoices, but soon I will be doing all sorts of things I could only of imagined about. As a international studies minor I am ecstatic about one opportunity in particular, in August I will be coordinating (in large part, by myself) a trade team from Japan which will include not only hosting them but educating them on grain production in the United States which will include various tours and meetings. Various other responsibilities will be assigned to me as worker confidence grows, but I earnestly just want to make everyone’s job here easier whether directly or indirectly.

Even though it has only been a short time, I already have subtle experiences I struggle to put into words, like Robert Brault said “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”

The U.S. Grains Council is hosting James Keating of Ogallala, Neb., as their first summer intern supported by a partnership between the Nebraska Corn Board and USGC. David is a senior in political science at the University of Nebraska – Kearney. He will be working with policy, assisting with international trade teams and helping to develop promotions and international relations.

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