As a Congressional Aide, Girl Scout Savannah S. spent a week shadowing the office of Congressman Alan Lowenthal. Savannah writes about her experience below.
As my week on Capital Hill as a Girl Scout Congressional Aide has concluded, I am able to reflect upon my experience. I can confidently state that, although the program lasted for just five days, each day provided meaningful memories, skills, and perspectives that I will carry for a lifetime. With every new day came novel and unexpected adventures. I was able to complete a multitude of unusual tasks and meet many interesting people while discovering more about my own interests and aspirations. I learned of a number of novel and different perspectives, I learned to take advantage of every opportunity, and I found out more about the legislative process in general, as well as my own career insights concerning this process.
Once I arrived on the hill, I quickly met a vast array of people from different backgrounds, ages, and locations. I shadowed the office of Alan Lowenthal of the 47th District of California, and all of the staff members and visiting constituents were California natives. It was incredibly interesting learning about the viewpoints and opinions of people from a coast that I am entirely unfamiliar with. One funny thing that I found was that everyone I met from California absolutely loves his or her home state! More importantly, I was able to discern which contemporary issues are most pressing within this geographical location, particularly while sorting and glimpsing through constituent mail, and I could attempt to analyze the reasons for this emphasis. For instance, immigration was a highly focused-upon issue, along with social security and environmental conservation. The concerns that regarded promoting ecologically friendly practices were fitting, as various ports lie within that particular district and citizens were cognizant of maritime health.
I also quickly discovered the benefit and fulfillment of utilizing every given opportunity. As I had only a handful of days to explore the hill and the inner-workings of the building I was stationed in, I sought to experience and learn everything possible. Even the most seemingly tedious of tasks turned out to be fascinating and fun. It wouldn’t appear that categorizing, filing, scanning, and sending letters could be considered remotely exciting, but through these processes I was able to identify the ways in which a Congressman communicates with his or her constituents and vice versa. Additionally, I leapt upon every chance to aid with giving tours of the Capital building, as I was always able to learn something new about the intricate architecture, the rich history, and the modern applications. On one special tour I received the rare opportunity to stand on the floor of the House and to sit in the seat of a Congressman! Moreover, I attended two briefings on present issues in which a number of highly educated people shared their findings in accordance with their academic specialties.
Finally, through the program I expanded my knowledge on how the government works, especially within the legislative branch. It is one thing to learn about the legislative process, but it is another to be completely immersed in it, not to mention in our country’s capital! I worked with and talked to many kind and enthusiastic people who were willing to explain what their roles were in the office, how everything worked, what had interested them, and how they had gotten to that point in their professional lives. I also conducted research on the process a bill undergoes to become a law and applied it to the journey of a contemporary bill. I developed valuable career insights and discovered that I may have the desire to pursue a career within the political sector someday.
I am incredibly grateful for my experience on Capital Hill. The skills and ideas that I learned were invaluable and the amazing, hard-working people who I met were irreplaceable. I would like to thank the staff members whom I worked with for being so accommodating and for their efforts toward making my time so unforgettable! Also, thank you Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital for making this possible and for having a profoundly positive effect upon me and many other girls.