Civic Leadership and Reflection
Written by: Rebekah Karth Chojnacki
An important quality for my internship site this summer with D.C. Tutoring & Mentoring Initiative is taking the time to exercise, meditation, and reflection, along with the efforts that we do to recruit tutors and mentors for the two out of three students in the D.C. area who are below grade-level in reading or math. Getting acquainted with the community and the real-life experience of people who live in the District was an important part of my internship search while looking for a site to fulfill my internship requirements for the Archer Fellowship program. While I looked at other locations for an internship at larger organizations and on Capitol Hill, I was drawn to D.C. Tutoring & Mentoring Initiative because I wanted to make a difference in the Washington, D.C. community and improve the educational prospects for the children in the area. In addition to loving the mission and idea of finding mentors and tutors for local students, the internship also came with the advantage of having ready access to one of the most beautiful locations in the district with the proximity to Meridian Hill Park/Malcolm X Park.
The site for reflection that I have chosen is directly across the street from my internship site, which is housed in the historic Josephine Butler Parks Center building. On the other side of the street is Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park, which is technically a national park, but mainly functions as a gathering site for the community. Spending time in this spot helps center me and keep me grounded, but it also gives me a chance to interact with the community and meet people who live in Washington, D.C. and the surrounding area. Meridian Hill Park/Malcolm X Park is an ideal place for meditation and reflection. There is a large grassy area surrounded by benches around the perimeter. Throughout the day, passersby can often see children playing, people walking dogs, drum circles, and yoga practitioners finding inner peace on the beautiful green lawn. In addition to all of this, there are several pieces of public art, including statues of former president James Buchanan and feminist icon Joan of Arc. However, the signature piece of the park is the cascading fountain, which is my favorite area for quiet meditation and reflection. The water provides the perfect atmosphere and keeps me centered on our mission of making the world a better place through civic engagement and leadership. While my time in Washington, D.C. this summer is short, frequent time at my reflection spot in Meridian Hill Park/Malcolm X Park has not only made me feel peaceful and more grounded, but it has also given me the opportunity to have a taste of what the experience is to live, work, and play in the heart of the nation’s capital.