Author Archive

The End of the Beginning

Monday, August 18th, 2014

Hey guys! Sorry for the delay- the last few weeks have been CRAZY! Things picked up during the last week at CIS, then my mom joined me in DC, then came the craziness of getting home! It’s still so strange to realize that summer is almost over and that I spent 11 weeks in DC interning. It’s actually nuts.

I figured, since I’ve blogged all summer about what I’ve been learning, etc, I’d spare y’all. I think I’ll stick to where I’m going and where I loved to go in this wrap-up post.

First, FRANCE! As of now, I have 15 days until I leave to go abroad. That’s also nuts. I’ll be there for the year (and blogging about it!) studying at the political science university in Toulouse and staying with a host family. I go between being scared out of my mind and being super excited…I’m sure it’ll get better as it gets closer.

This summer solidified the fact that, once I get back from my year abroad, I definitely want to be back in DC. It was a really different experience to be in a big city, but I loved the atmosphere. DC has all the perks of a big city, but it isn’t as fast-paced or stressed as NYC. There’s so many cool (and free) things to do, so you  never get bored. Plus, being in a city with all that history is awesome for a nerd like me, ha! I know now that a think tank could definitely be in my future, but I’ll be sure that my values line up with the organization and that it’s an issue I’m incredibly passionate about. Watching how dedicated all the CIS staff members were really cemented that for me.

For fun, I thought I’d compile a little list of my favorite places and spaces in DC! Definitely try to check them out if you can!


  • Ted’s Bulletin: Right off U Street, this quirky restaurant runs awesome nightly specials and serves homemade poptarts for breakfast and brunch. ‘Nuff said.
  • Filomena: A Georgetown staple, Filomena is a little more expensive but totally worth it! This Italian restaurant has served the likes of Bono and Bill Clinton, and the plates are HUGE. I ordered the gnocchi, ate it there, then took it home and ate it three more times.
  • Thunder Burger: Also in Georgetown. The vibe is punk-rock which turns it into Gtown’s version of a dive bar, but it’s so incredibly yummy! You can get almost any kind of burger here, but I’d go just for the atmosphere 🙂
  • Founding Farmer’s: This place is divine. I had the chicken pot pie and my friend had the chicken and waffles..we both waddled out stuffed.  The waitstaff is really knowledgeable about the farm-to-table concept, and you can honestly taste the difference in the food. Make reservations though- when we showed up for the only time we could get, the wait was 1.5 hours, on a Tuesday!


  • The National Museum of Women in Art: Two blocks from the White House, this museum is really well done. It starts with portraits from the Renaissance and moves forward chronologically. There are student discounts with your ID, and it’s really inexpensive anyway. The building used to be a Masonic lodge- aka no women allowed! You have to love that irony.
  • U Street: This place reminded me a lot of Bourbon Street in New Orleans. Not because of a ton of bars or anything, just because all the restaurants, bars, and shops are totally random but all work together. Mellow Mushroom is great for pizza, and go to Tryst afterward for dessert.
  • The Museum of Crime and Punishment: This museum is right by the Spy Museum and the Gallery Place Metro Stop, but it’s crammed between a bunch of restaurants so you might miss it. Don’t though- it’s really well done! Starting with medieval torture, it moves through colonial times, the Wild West, organized crime families, and cyber crime. There’s nothing gruesome, and everything is really informative. It’s a for-profit museum, so there’s a fee to enter. But you get a discount for students and that helps. Definitely fun!

So there you go. The end of my summer, the beginning of my year, and my favorite things! I’ve loved blogging this summer, and the feedback I’ve gotten is phenomenal. I’m so glad I got this opportunity!


Designer Chickens (and the last two weeks)

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

Oh my gosh, hi! I know it’s been forever since I’ve been able to publish anything, but I’ve had an incredibly busy two weeks. Since I know I’m way past due on my “3 New Things” ..thing, I’ll be throwing those in here [in brackets].

The week of the 15th was soooo fun- my birthday week, of course! We ended up going to a work lunch that day, and I went to a really fancy Indian restaurant for dinner! [Never underestimate the convenience of Uber. Especially when it’s raining. And your birthday. And you’ve accidentally locked yourself out of your house.]

My dad and stepmom came to visit the weekend after my birthday, and we had SO much fun! My dad’s been loving taking selfies lately, and we definitely got some good ones. We did the monuments, the Spy Museum, the Museum of Crime and Punishment, and the Newseum. [Sometimes, accept the fact that you aren’t going to look cute and wear the tennis shoes. 9 miles of mall-walking later, you’ll thank yourself.]

We also got to hit up some super fun restaurants! My favorite was Old Ebbitt Grill, right off the Mall. It’s literally right across the street from the White House, and so yummy! Also, Roofers’ Union in Adams-Morgan is a new spot, but super yummy. They have an entire section of the menu dedicated to Hot Dogs. On the subject of food, I finally got reservations at Founding Farmers, a DC restaurant that specializes in Farm-to-Table food. I’m way excited, but it’s my first experience with F-t-T, so I’ll let you know…

At work, we’ve been super busy (as you can probably imagine). We did a briefing in the House building last week, featuring a panel with two CIS staff members and a rep from NumbersUSA. [If you’re easily carsick, don’t ever think it’s a good idea to take a cab to the Hill during Rush Hour. Just don’t.] The briefing was really helpful; John Feere, a CIS legal analyst, is great at breaking down complicated laws so they’re understandable. Now I’m way more confident in explaining the nuances of the recent child border surge. Speaking of, a report I helped with should be coming out soon, and I’ll be sure to link it here.

Finally, Sunday evening, I went to a lovely barbecue hosted by Dickinson alumna Betty Churchill and her husband. There were Dickinson students and grads there, as well as reps and grads from the School of Policy and International Affairs (SPIA) at UMaine. From what I hear, it’s a really great program, though I’m not sure if I could handle those Maine winters!

The three other things I learned in the last two weeks:

4. If you’re living in a swamp, don’t ever travel without an umbrella. Self-explanatory.

5. Even if you think you’ll go unnoticed, you might just be surprised. I tweeted at my favorite blogger, and while I’m sure she gets hundreds of mentions a day, she tweeted back at me! Just a teeny tiny tweet quite literally made my week.

6. Sometimes the weirdest things make you giggle. Refer to the title of my blog, and this Buzzfeed post.


It’s nuts to think that I have less than two weeks left at CIS and less than three in DC…I’ll be posting more soon to wrap up my summer.


3 New Things

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

Hey y‘all! Sorry for the delay- We had a big story break at CIS and I’ve been dealing with that, not to mention my birthday was yesterday. I also got to visit my best friend Larissa in Connecticut this past weekend. Whee!


{Life’s rough. Beachin’ it in CT.}

Two things:

First, another project I worked on at CIS got published! Yay! I helped David North, a Fellow at the Center, do research on what he calls MSMs.

{Context: David is an 84-year-old spitfire that has been working with immigration for upwards of 40 years. His project on MSMs: One of the many ways an immigrant can enter the US is by applying for an F-1 Visa. This visa is for students who are coming here to study, and the Department of Homeland Security licenses various education institutions to authorize this visa for foreign students. However, some of these “schools” turn into visa mills that don’t provide any sort of education whatsoever- David has termed them “Marginal Schools for Migrants”, or MSMs. I worked with the numbers for the report, as well as made the awesome graphic. Here’s the link: }

Second, blame it on hump day or me not being creative, but today’s blog is going to be a shout out to Game of Thrones. In one of the later books, Arya, a main character, is required to learn three new things every week. (This isn’t a spoiler.) So, I’m going to steal her thunder and tell you about three things I’ve learned this week.

1. Sometimes things you’re forced to do end up being assets. For the MSM report, I had to work with government-issued excel files that were huge- I’m talking 36,000 rows huge. I’ve worked with Excel before, but some of the stuff  I had to do with the data required some very intense Google searches and a couple of Youtube how-to videos before I figured it out. By the time I was done with the research David wanted, I was very much over working with the documents; however, now I know a lot more about Excel and it’s features. That’s a skill I can confidently put on my resume.

2. The buses in DC are totally hidden life-savers. I’ve had to run a lot of errands in Georgetown recently, and absolutely no metro lines run over that way. Well, they sort of do, but I’d have to walk over a mile in the swampy DC weather in work clothes. So for all intents and purposes, there’s no metro. There are, however, a ton of bus routes that stop in that neighborhood. I’ve started using them and while I’m not as comfortable as I am using the metro, I’m getting the hang of it. Bonus: they’re cheaper!

3. Don’t underestimate the power of a routine. Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m very much not a morning person. That said, I think DC is getting to me, because I’ve started getting up at least a half hour before I need to every morning. This lets me catch the trains that are less crowded, and I get to work about 30 minutes early every day. Like clockwork, I’ll leave my house by 7:40, grab an Express paper (a condensed version of the headlines that day) at my metro stop, work on the sudoku and crossword puzzles on the train, grab breakfast at the restaurant right by work, and make it to the office by about 8:25. That way, I can eat breakfast, finish the puzzles, and check my email. By the time the other interns walk in at 9, I’ve already completed two puzzles and can intelligently discuss the day’s news. Especially lately, with immigration becoming a front-page issue, having read the news gives me a jump on what the media is saying about immigration policy.

So there you go-three new things. My parents are in town this weekend, so I may be MIA for a little while again.

Have a great hump day!



PS- If you don’t subscribe to The Skimm, you should. Just  go to , enter your email, and you’ll get a witty recap of news headlines in your inbox every morning. It only takes like five minutes to read, and you’ll be able to start a conversation in the elevator and look super informed.



Do the Next Thing

Monday, July 7th, 2014

Morning everybody! Hope your long weekends were spectacular..mine sure was! A quick recap before I dive into my inspiration for today:

I went to see the fireworks on the Mall! I got to go to the Smithsonian Zoo, and visit with some very pleasant alpacas. I even had breakfast for dinner -a guilty pleasure- on Saturday! (Told you that would be quick.)


This morning I thought I’d share a resource that I absolutely love, aimed at up-and-coming women in the workforce. Sorry to all the handsome men out there- this one’s for the girls.

The site is called Levo League, and features all kinds of stuff for young women trying to figure out their way through corporate high rises. From fashion advice to mentors you can talk to as well as “Local Levo” chapters, there is something on here for everyone, and it’s so much more productive than Pinterest to browse when you’re bored. One of my favorite articles lately was posted on Father’s Day. The author basically talks about a huge life decision she had to make, and how her dad’s simple advice proved the most helpful: Just Do the Next Thing.

Now, I read the article, tweeted about it, and thought it would be gone from my memory until I had to make some life-altering choice. Fortunately, though, that hasn’t been the case. I’ve been thinking about my upcoming year, one I’ll be spending in France, and this advice strikes me as so incredibly centering. If you know me, you know that I’m incredibly type-A and most of the time I’m all over the place. Hopefully that’s endearing? But part of that type-A flustered Grace absolutely adores worrying about my future. Lately, I’ve been able to hush that ever-present part of my brain just by telling myself to Do the Next Thing.

Example: I’m applying for my French visa at the Consulate next week. If you’ve ever done this, you know that it’s an incredibly detailed, incredibly specific process, and you need about 51973692 forms and paperwork. I was superrrrr stressed about the entire thing. BUT I did the next thing. I made a list of all the forms, etc. that I needed, then I just did the next thing on the list. I have about four more things to do before my appointment, but I’ve got a ton of time to do them, AND I’m not stressed!


Who knows. Maybe you’re overworked and have a million things on your plate, or you’re about to do something you aren’t completely comfortable with. Read that article, take a breath, and do the next thing.


And in case you needed it, here’s a picture of some shaved alpacas. Not the ones I visited at the National Zoo, but still definitely smile-worthy. Have a great Monday!



photo: Google

We’d Like to Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Programming

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

Hey guys! So I’m at work but this just happened so I figured I’d let you know!

I’m published!

The background: Basically, a huge number of undocumented immigrants have been crossing the southern border of Texas into the US. A large portion of this group is unaccompanied minors, who come over because they’re told that as soon as they cross the border and surrender themselves, they’ll be taken into US custody. Under our current policies, this is true; they’re processed, given a Notice to Appear (NTA) notice for their immigration court date, and are then sent to live with family members already here or foster families.

The problem is that there are way too many under-18’s coming in for us to do this efficiently, and that’s what my blog talks about. As of now, we’re transporting these underage immigrants to temporary facilities, but as you’ll read, it could take years to process all of them.

Anywho, read the article if you’re interested. If you’re not, still look at it and appreciate how official I am!


Now. Back to regularly scheduled workday programming.

Better Late Than Never!

Monday, June 30th, 2014

Hey guys! So sorry- this was supposed to auto-post last night but I guess something didn’t work right. My bad!


Hey y’all! I’m officially done with the 4th week of my internship! We did some cool stuff at CIS this week:

  • I helped our Fellow, David North, with that report about the schools. I’ll be posting a link  here as soon as it gets published with a short recap of what it’s about (one of my biggest pet peeves is having to read something without any context.)
  • I got to write my own blog post! I decided to write it on the recent surge of undocumented immigrants coming across the south Texas border. I discussed the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing with Secretary Jeh Johnson of Homeland Security (DHS), and the House of Rep. Judiciary Committee’s hearing with Tom Homan, the Executive Associate Director of Enforcement at DHS. It was nice to do things that I was used to – writing a blog post, editing and revising it- and I felt much more confident in my abilities since I had so much experience.
  • The Interns visited the Sculpture Garden! Right on the Mall, there are some super cool (and super weird) statues in the park. I even found a statue of Spencer Fullerton Baird! (For Dson students, this is that Baird, the one that Baird-McClintock is named after.)

This week, I’m still working with the school project. As of now, I’m making a list of the Marginal Schools for Migrants (what David North has taken to calling them) that CIS will give to DHS. I’m feeling pretty important, not gonna lie!

I’m also turning into a bit of a foodie living here…it’s so interesting to live in a city where healthy food is the norm. Last week, this great restaurant called The Protein Bar opened a new location by my office. The first 100 people in line got 100$ gift cards, no strings attached, and Hannah and I were numbers 99 and 100! How lucky, right? I’ve been eating there a lot; all their food is packed with protein and nutrients and I always feel so good eating it! Last week I had an ah-mazing burger with bbq on it at Thunder Burger in Georgetown. This week, I’m going to Luke’s Lobster Rolls in Bethesda, which was one of the restaurants at the Taste Talk I went to. I’m also headed to Mellow Mushroom, a designer pizza parlor. I’ll be sure to update you on how they taste!

Another exciting thing coming up is the 4th! I’ll be spending the day doing all the awesome free stuff on the Mall and around that area. I’ll take bunches of pictures and post them!


Spencer F. Baird’s Statue in the Sculpture Garden

photo 2

The National Cathedral! My friend Nick lives right by it…how cool is that view?!

photo 3

Hannah and Malcolm, the other CIS interns, with their gift cards to The Protein Bar!

Have a great week everybody!




Cupcakes and Planes

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Hey y’all! Another week for the record books. For this week, I’ve decided to do something a little different (a la David Letterman.)



10. I had dinner and dessert with one of my good friends from Dickinson, Meghan. She just came back from a really cool service trip and it was awesome catching up.

9. I finished two seasons of Scandal. Probably shouldn’t be as proud of this as I am, but I’m having a great time seeing DC and knowing a lot of locations they refer to. In the show, Olivia Pope (the take-no-prisoners main character) even works on K Street, just like me! It’s so neat.

8. Myself and the other two interns went to this awesome event sponsored by SpoonUniversity, founded by college students to connect young people that are passionate about food. The event was super cheap, and there were several different local restaurants there that brought samples. Once everybody had made their rounds, there was a panel discussion with four people connected to the food/restaurant industry in different ways. While I’m not going to start a restaurant anytime soon, a lot of the information definitely translated into other facets of my life at the moment.

7. I finally toured the Air and Space Museum! Such a cool one. I learned a ton about planes and space and whatnot, but it also led to a lot of reflection about how small I am, and how far we’ve come as a society.

6. I toured the Air and Space Museum with a new friend! It’s so cool how many people you get to meet in a city like this.

5. I finished my project! I can now say that I’m awesome at Excel and making smart charts in Microsoft word. The completed report should be coming out soon, and I’ll link it here so that you guys can see! David North, the CIS Fellow writing the report, also sent me a draft to revise and edit. I really enjoyed falling back into my Writing-Center-Tutor comfort zone; I felt super confident in what I was doing.

4. I officially bought my tickets to Connecticut, and I’ll be Amtrak-ing to Bridgeport to visit my best friend in two weeks! I’ve been a bit lonely in DC, so I’m super excited to visit Larissa. While the North isn’t always my thing, I’ll admit that it’s convenient to be so close to so many Dickinsonian friends.

3. On the subject of friends, I ended up seeing two different friends when I was at dinner with Meghan! We stopped and chatted with both of them, and it was so good to hear what they’ve been up to. Little things, but it was a pleasant surprise.

2. I went to another Nationals game! I definitely recommend Ben’s Chili Bowl…best chili, chili dog, or chili cheese fries at the game. There are super cheap tickets if you don’t mind sitting pretty high up, and the nosebleeds have a gorgeous breeze. It was supposed to rain that night, but thankfully we were spared; the clouds ended up making the sunset absolutely stunning and the weather just right.

1. Nobody sent me crashing down the Metro escalator! (This is number 1 because a. I’m still looking at the scabs from last week that look like I got into a nasty argument with Wolverine, and b. little wins, remember?)

So there you go! Another super eventful week. If you haven’t yet, remember to follow the CIS Intern’s Instagram account, @cisinterns . Have a great week everybody!



We’re not in Kansas anymore

Sunday, June 15th, 2014

Hey everybody! Another week has gone by, albeit a little less enthusiastically than before.

First, a disclaimer: Part of the reason I’m writing this blog is to let everybody know what I’m doing at my internship. However, besides the broad terms of “research” and the field trips I’ve described, I can’t say much. A lot of the information I’m working with is both time- and audience-sensitive, and it’s not within my bounds as an intern to release or discuss it. Some people have asked, so I just wanted to make sure everybody knows what’s up.

Now, for my week. Basically the same as last week, with some minor changes.  We took a field trip to the Library of Congress, and I had forgotten what a beautiful building it was. Myself and Hannah, one of the other interns, also attended a Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on Oversight of the Department of Homeland Security. It concerned a lot of the things that have been important to CIS, and it was nice to go in with the background info I’ve learned working at the Center. Hannah and I also went to a presentation of a new study put out by the Brookings Institute, and that was informative as well.

I will say, I officially hate the metro, as a jerk that was going to miss his train completely knocked me over on the escalator, which led to some nasty cuts and bruises. I really hope he made it to his train on time.

Another thing I’m learning is that I do not do being alone very well. Don’t get me wrong- being by yourself can lead to great introspection and whatnot. But I’m way too much of an extrovert for that. I know that DC is an awesome place with a ton of stuff to do, but I can’t bring myself to go exploring on my own, again. It’s actually been a really hard weekend for me, and I’ve ended up spending most of it in my bed watching Netflix. I know my disillusionment isn’t probably what you wanted to read about, but I’m just being honest. Both my housemates are very nice and have been really welcoming, but the age difference makes it awkward for us to “hang out.” This is the first summer I’ve not gone to my usual summer camp (in a camper or counselor capacity), and I find myself really torn up about it. Half the time when I look at the clock, I imagine what the campers are doing. I see the pictures on Instagram and Facebook and it gets me really sad. Everybody tells me, Oh Grace! I could never have had the courage to do what you’re doing! but honestly? That’s just annoying. I’m having a really hard time by myself here, and most of the time, I just want to go home.

Please note that this is very specific to my individual personality: I’m not at all saying that this is happening/will happen to everyone or anyone. I’m just trying to be very transparent about my experience. Like I said, it may not be what people want to read, but I feel like being fake would just defeat the purpose of this blog, ya know?

Here’s hoping this week will be better…


Endings and Beginnings

Monday, June 9th, 2014

Hey everybody! OH my stars this week went by so fast! Here’s the recap as I start to get ready for tomorrow (Does anybody like Mondays? I mean really.)

First, the internship, of course! It’s so cool. My fellow interns, Malcolm and Hannah, are making it a lot of fun. Both are about to be seniors; Malcolm goes to Sewanee and Hannah’s attending Vanderbilt. It’s been interesting to hear their perspectives on southern schools, being from the South. We’ve started two new traditions- Food Truck Wednesdays and Try It Thursdays. Farragut Square, the park facing our building, is crawling with food trucks during lunch time. We’ve decided that every Wednesday, we’ll take lunch outside and try a different food truck. Since I’m trying to save money, it’s awesome! All the trucks are super cheap and they usually give me more food than I can eat- leftovers for dinner! Thursdays after work, we’re going to start going to a different restaurant around our building to try the food and drink. We’re starting this week- I’m excited!

Another super awesome part of work is the field trips. Our intern coordinator, Marguerite, has a schedule made out for us and we have different things to attend every week. This past week, we went to a presentation on Reagan and his presidency. Some parts were a bit politically one-sided for me, but I really enjoyed hearing from people that had worked alongside such an important figure in US history. Next week, we’re headed to a talk on immigration economics. The best part about field trips, though, is that on Fridays, we get to take off at noon and go explore DC. Our excursions are planned, of course, but we get to pick where we want to go. This past Friday, we went and toured the Supreme Court. So far on our list: the Capitol, the Library of Congress, and the Archives.

As far as not-work goes, I’ve found a ton of cool stuff around my neighborhood. One metro stop away (but within walking distance- I save the fare) is this awesome neighborhood called Columbia Heights. There are some really interesting restaurants and a farmers’ market on Saturday mornings! What I’m really thrilled about though, is the Museum of Unnatural History. It’s part of a growing network of writing centers aimed at elementary through high school students, to help with their writing for school. With many of these centers, the spaces they occupy are actually zoned for retail, so they have to put something in the building that generates revenue. The first one I heard about was a pirate supply shop, and there’s a time-traveling gas station and a superhero supply shop as well. I’ve signed up to do a volunteer workshop, and I really  hope I can get involved. If you’ve got ten minutes, there’s an awesome TED talk about the centers:

Another shameless plug: CIS has started an Instagram account for the interns! If you’re on insta, follow us! @cisinterns

One last thought: My new favorite part of the metro is the lack of covering on some of the stops. I run on the National Mall, and the Smithsonian stop entrance doesn’t have an awning, so it looks like you’re taking an escalator into the sky 🙂 (Sorry I’m a nerd for thinking it’s cool.)


That’s it for this week. Here’s to Monday!


8 hours and counting

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

That’s how long I’ve been officially an intern with CIS!

My first day was pretty standard- got oriented to the office and the staff, and then Marguerite Telford (the Dickinson alum) treated us to lunch! There are three interns, and we each have received our own personal project to work on throughout the summer. As part of my project, I get to go to the House buildings tomorrow for one of the staff members. I know I was just running an errand, but I’ve never been to the Hill buildings before, so it was exciting!

On another note, I did learn some things today:

  • The “carry your heels” trick isn’t hype. Seriously. I’m SO glad I chose to wear my Rainbow flipflops to work and back. I ended up with a blister and I know that the Metro with that thing would have been torture.
  • Another outfit note: always overdress. I ended up a bit formal for the CIS office, but I’m really grateful that it wasn’t the other way around. And hey, now I get to revel in being more casual than I thought.
  • The Metro sticks with you. As I write this, I’m feeling a bit wobbly, even though I’m sitting at my kitchen table. I’m a scuba diver, and the feeling is a bit akin to that of getting your “sea legs.” This should be interesting…
  • Being an overachiever pays off. Because I was in DC before the other two interns, I got to attend a CIS board meeting. Because of that, I had already met most of the staff and my intern coordinator was able to say, “Oh, you remember Friday, So-and-so was saying that…” more times than I could count. I know it was actually a technicality (because the other two interns hadn’t actually gotten to the city yet) but I still felt like I had a competitive edge. That feeling was nice, especially since I’m a year younger than the they are.

That’s really all I can think of for today! Short post, I know, but I have work to get done for one of the staff members for tomorrow. Y’all come back now!