Elle In Washington, D.C. Update: Hey! I Don't Even Know What Public Policy IS!!!

Robby and I encouraged Caitlin to go to this American Studies Program in Washington, D.C.  She is a business major and her university requires that each student also leave their school with a minor degree as well.  When this opportunity came up, it was perfect; she could complete her minor in Political Science in one semester.  There was only one little problem with that...she had NEVER even taken a political science class!

Caitlin is the one person in our family who has never kept up with the news or current events.  I tried to get her to watch the news, but she simply was more interested in "fashion and fun stuff".  And THAT is precisely why Robby and I thought that going through this program in Washington, D.C. would be great for her.  She would be actually living in the city where it all happened.  And being submersed in the history and politics would force her to look at and understand the world around her better.  We found that what we had actually done was thrown our little guppy into a huge shark tank...I just hoped she wouldn't get eaten up!

The first indication that perhaps the political arena was not for her, was when Caitlin called to say that she had never read so much in her life.  They had immediately thrown several political type books at the students to have read before class even started.  Then she stated, "Yea...if there is anything I hate more than READING about politics, it is politics THEMSELVES."  Hmmm...now this just MIGHT prove to be a very long and interesting semester.  Well, at least Washington was also filled with "fashion and fun stuff", if she got too bored with all of the political talk.  Then, the assignment came..."THE ASSIGNMENT".  You know, that one assignment that every program gives its students that makes them actually feel physically ill?  She called to tell me about it.

Upon entering the program, each student had to choose a course path to take; either journalism or political science.  Caitlin chose political science.  I assumed (yea...I know what assuming gets you) that they would take some basic political science courses and then just be totally submersed in the Washington scene.  Well, that was about the time "THE ASSIGNMENT" was revealed.  Oh, the students would have to attend lectures  around the city at various sites, listening to a number of speakers on different topics.  They would also be required to keep a blog on their experiences with their internships, but the really big shocker ("THE ASSIGNMENT")  was to come in the form of a 30 page paper that was required to have 78 sources!  And the subject?...PUBLIC POLICY!  Oh yea, and it gets better than that... the subject matter had to do with something that has an environmental impact or something concerning energy.  My mind was racing at warp speed.  Clearly, I was going to have to move to Washington, D.C. for the semester..but WAIT!  30 PAGES?!  78 SOURCES?!  I had never written a paper that long in my life...and where the heck does one find 78 sources?!  THAT'S when she explained that they had to set up interviews with people around Washington to make up most of these 78 sources.  PEOPLE??? WHAT PEOPLE?  "Oh...senators, representatives and other people in the political world", she told me.  I was REALLY sweating now.  Elle had to go get interviews with all of these Washington political powerhouses?  I was clenching my teeth and could feel the stress creeping up the back of my neck...it was time to have a glass of wine on my back porch.

As I sat there, the phone rang. It was Caitlin, who sounded a little stressed, herself.  She said, "I don't even KNOW what public policy IS...WHY would I choose to take this class?!" Ummm...maybe because you aren't a journalism major, writing for the Washington Post (THANK THE LORD!), I thought. I asked her if any of the other students were stressed out about it too and she said, "Let's just say...when the professor was telling us about the assignment, I looked around the room and everybody's mouth was dropped open.  One guy's face turned so red, I thought he was going to cry and I personally felt like I was about to throw up."  OK...well, at least she wasn't alone in her misery...you know that old saying.  She did say that one of her roommates (she calls her the "genius") had actually done one of these papers before.  She said she felt sorry for her and would help her as much as she could; that sounded like a plan to me.  However, the time was drawing near for the title of the paper to be turned in...in JUST 2 DAYS!  And she didn't understand ANYTHING about the subjects that were listed on the paper.  NOW, I felt nauseous!!!

The next day, I called to talk to Caitlin and see how the search for a research topic was coming along.  Oh...she still had another day to decided on that.  WHAT?!  I wanted to say.  "Well, what are you doing today?", I asked.  "I just went to D.C. Cupcakes.  They are AWESOME!  And the shopping over here in Georgetown...OH MY GOSH, Mom...we're definitely going to have to come here when you visit again!"  CLEARLY, she was having some sort of stress induced denial episode.  Here I was still worrying about "THE PROJECT" and she was having a CUPCAKE and a little RETAIL THERAPY.  Should I have expected anything less from Elle?  I guess she will eventually learn what public policy is AND finish that 30 page paper.  If she can take the stress by eating a cupcake and having a little retail therapy, I guess I can deal with the stress by taking adopting my Scarlett attitude...and just think about it another day too!

No comments