Hi there! My name is Inesha and I’m excited to join this awesome group of Harvard bloggers. My hope is that through me you’ll get a better sense of what Harvard life is like, the opportunities we have open to us, the places we often stumble upon, and the chance encounters this place makes happen. When I came here my friends back home would joke that I was going to “Hogwarts,” not Harvard. I used to laugh them off. Yes, our freshmen dining hall does have a little bit of a Harry Potter feel to it, but let me tell you… this place? It’s pretty magical. And to show you how it is so magical, I figured I’d have to start by telling you what it was like leaving Harvard for a semester… and coming back. Because only then did I really appreciate just how amazing this place is!
This past September, I wasn’t back at Harvard but standing instead on Harvard Street in Washington, D.C. wishing so badly that I was. I was starting an internship at the White House in the Office of the First Lady and the timing meant that I saw an election, a Christmas season, and a full-fledged fiscal crisis right in front of my eyes. I got to staff the Congressional Ball and I got to go halfway across the country to Ohio to knock on doors and ride down random streets in a minivan, car doors wide open (I’m pretty sure this is not legal but alas…) asking people to go and vote. I went to my first political rally. With the President and Jay-Z and Bruce Springstein. I backtracked to the White House on November 7th in relief and joy. We had won ourselves a second term.
I sat in on speaker series with the Vice President, the President’s Press Secretary, the Head of Legislative Affairs. I sat at a table with Ben Rhodes and Samantha Power. And I got to meet the First Lady. The First Lady. And all the while, I got to hear stories from the American people. People from Hawaii and California, Kansas and Virginia. I got to push my eyes and ears up against the walls of the White House, so grateful for the chance and the opportunity to maybe impact those who stood at those black iron gates just a few hundred feet from where I got to stand. And all the while, I was pushed and challenged and sometimes made so tired that it was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other. I made incredible friends. I learned some hard lessons. I met people who inspired me. And I grew to understand just how big and grand and truly diverse this country is.
I can’t say that I didn’t miss Harvard—or my sophomore fall. I did. A lot. There were days when I would look up from my desk at the White House and yearn so much to be sitting at the dining hall in Mather with my friends, or wrapped up in a conversation at Burdicks, or sitting at the top of the Science Center gazing at the stars and all of campus passing by. I would look at my emails and lament all of the incredible speakers I was missing—I mean, I was at the White House and I swear at times it felt that Harvard students were getting more exposure to incredible White House officials than me. From David Axelrod to Jim Messina to Thomas Donilon—only at Harvard and the White House could you fill up entire weeks with speaker series with these people.
This realization itself taught me to appreciate so much more the school I get to go to. Now that I’m back at Harvard, I can’t help but think that all of those days and months in DC…. they were so worth it. Because now I’m back where I can take all of the “real world experiences” I’ve had and let them be too a part of the story I’m writing at Harvard. It’s a really long story and I realized at the White House that it will probably never end the way I think (or yes, even hope) it might. This story is filled with huge lessons and incredible nights, times of struggle-busing (maybe it’s just a Harvard word, but you get the picture,) and weeks that stretch into months and years with incredible friends. And all the while, I’ll be blogging right here, hoping to give you as much of a view into the life of a Harvard student. I’m so glad you’re here—please check back soon… there’s still so much I want to share with you!