Inesha’s Blog

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Hi readers!

My apologies for my delay in posting. Since school wrapped up, I was able to spend a little bit of time at home before coming to NYC to start my internship with Fareed Zakaria’s CNN Show Global Public Square. After this I’ll be headed to Sri Lanka to work on a social entrepreneurship project that I am really excited about (more on that later!) First things first, inspired by this Crimson column that I thought was pretty spot on in describing Harvard summers, I figured I’d go ahead and share with you a little bit of mine… Here goes!

CNN! (And me in front of the Time Warner globe 🙂

Thursdays are show days. The beginning of the week creeps by slowly riddled with planning and research and story pitching. The first three days of the week however are nothing compared to Thursdays. You see, on Thursday—and Friday—the show is made. At least that’s what I learned my first week at CNN’s Global Public Square Show (GPS) with Fareed Zakaria. A complete newcomer to this side of journalism, my mind completely front-wheeled when my supervisor started talking about ingests and slugs and copies (and for the record, I’m not talking about the kind you make at the copy machine.)

In my first week I was introduced to three new computer programs, figured out what a rundown actually is and how to create one, sat in the control room and watched our show take off, and prompted our host—a job that may seem unglamorous to most but that I would tell you was more stressful for me than preparing for Finals.

In short, it was a week that had me finding my way at CNN. And I’m happy to report that in between checking out the control room, taking in all the new faces, and doing my own first assignments for my supervisor, I sensed how it is that CNN still values—as they like to say—their “southern roots.” I appreciated how, even as my colleagues were charged with putting a whole show together and prepping for interviews with the likes of former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, they still made time to teach me, to check in on me, and to really take care of me.

My internship at CNN was a serendipitous find. Funded by the Institute of Politic’s wonderful Director’s Internship Program, it seemed the perfect fit for someone who was internationally focused and too interested in journalism and its future in a landscape that is constantly changing. I have a feeling though that by the end of the internship, I will walk away with more than just the experience of having been immersed in the news world; I will too have learned the art of producing a show—a side benefit and a whole world in journalism that I have never quite explored.

I will have learned how to really take an angle on a story, how to develop it, and how to inject fresh, new analysis that really reveals the deeper meaning or lessons to be learned. And hopefully, I will at least be able to tell you what a slug is.

I come to CNN at an interesting time. Journalism has long been a field that is experiencing a sea change, a product of a technological revolution that prominent news companies are still figuring out how to capitalize off of and monetize around. More specifically, here at CNN, there has been a tremendous amount of internal restructuring since new President— and Harvard College alum—Jeff Zucker came in January. CNN, like every news organization, is trying to figure out its market, its role, and its specialty in a news market that is often oversaturated and a news age that does not merely encourage redefinition but demands it.

Hard cuts and difficult choices will have to be made, but if there was one thing I realized in my first week at CNN it was that therein lies too incredible potential for entrepreneurship and innovation in this space. This fundamentally excites me. And in my opinion, there’s no better time for this.

Recent headlines about NSA and other high security leaks have seen the American people starting a conversation with its government about what information should and should not be disclosed when it comes to security of the homeland. These leaks have also, however, reminded us of just how important journalism is. Journalists do not just cover the news; they also push our government and our administration to be accountable and transparent with the people.

They are, at their core, public servants. In many ways they reinforce the social contract that exists between the state and her citizens. And so, if journalism is to remain that first draft of history that sets things in motion, journalistic innovation is not just necessary for the survival of the news industry—but too for the survival of our democracy. I’m excited to use my internship this summer to work at the nexus of the two.



From the steps of Memorial Church…

On May 13th I had the honor of sitting inside Memorial Church. Tucked away in the middle of campus opposite Widener Library and next to red brick Sever Hall, Memorial Church stands resolute and tall. It is something to behold on our campus. Right on its footsteps, sits Memorial Church Café– a new addition to our campus this year– with a sign that reads: “Come for the Caffeine, Stay for the Community.” On those very steps, George Marshall spoke of the need for the Marshall Plan after World War II. Today, weddings happen each and every season there. Indeed, it is not uncommon to see entire bridal parties posing for pictures on those steps. My twin sister lived in Thayer dorm, which is just adjacent to the Church, her freshmen year and would joke “Yeah I’m studying for LS1A and there’s little flower girls running outside my window. Hard to complain.”

But I say ‘tucked away’ when I describe the church because most students never even wander inside until their senior year; indeed the 8:45 am 15-minute services the Church holds each morning before classes are among our campus’ well guarded secrets (well, not so secret anymore 🙂

I mention the church because on May 13th one of my friends and an almost-graduate (just a few more days to go!) from the college gave her senior talk there. During the last few weeks of school, seniors from each residential house give a short “senior speech” on behalf of their own house community. My friend Julia gave the speech for Mather. And while it was a tad early in the morning to stumble out to the yard, I am so grateful I did. It was honestly the highlight of my sophomore year.


Julia talked about the community we had in Mather, how it had made her think about a quote inscribed on Wigglesworth gate:   “Enter to Grow in Wisdom — Depart to Serve Better Thy Country and Thy Kind.” She talked about what Harvard had taught her about what serving “thy kind” really means– how it’s not about encircling our world, our friends, our family and choosing to serve them only, but rather choosing to give to those too who we have never even met. Humanity, she told us, “is enough– more than enough– to warrant love.”


Julia’s message that morning in Memorial Church was simple. But it struck me still. It is not easy after all to serve all of humanity– it is much easier to serve thy kind. Her thoughts, so eloquently spoken, wrestled in me something I’ve been thinking about a lot this year.

Harvard you see is a lot of things. But one thing people don’t often tell you is that in some ways, getting here… it makes you feel like you could do anything. Watching the winners of the President’s Challenge and hearing some of our speakers– Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Salman Khan, Jim Yong-kim you feel in some crazy way that you too can do something, make something, be something.

But then when you leave Harvard and when you enter the “real world” you don’t always feel the same. I felt that transition in the fall when I took the semester off to intern in DC. I remember how struck I was by how settled into their real adult lives everyone around me seemed. And how scary that was to me. As much as I sometimes complain about the whirlwind that is college– how quickly it ends, how fast we move, how every May I find myself yet again lugging more boxes and throwing them into storage– I know that I will miss it. College really isn’t for the settled.

But, for some reason, until Julia’s speech that day it hadn’t really occurred to me how easy it would be to settle– or in her example, to leave Harvard and just draw a circle around your friends and family, call them out as “thy kind,” and serve them and serve them only. In that light settling would not just be easy, it would be convenient– and it wouldn’t be such a bad thing either.

But it wouldn’t be enough.

In leaving us so very unsettled, in pushing us in ways we didn’t otherwise expect, Harvard teaches us that each and every day. Thank you, Julia, for reminding me– and good luck, graduate!!

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Hi there! Sorry it’s taken me a while to post. These last few weeks have been a little hectic what with final projects and final papers and meal dates with my favorite seniors who I can’t stand to see leave us. Last weeks in college are really quite different from the ones you have in high school. In high school there are exams and then there is (at least this was the case in my high school) this awkward 2 week period when you get to louse around, do nothing, and get really sick of school. So, naturally, when summer comes around, you’re ready for it. In college in general it’s just not like that. You have all your finals in a flurry and you hastily pack and… you leave. Just like that a really great semester comes to an end and you bask in how much you’ve grown and how fast it all went.

So these past two or three weeks have seen me scurrying around trying to fit in those last minute conversations with dear friends. Before the school year comes to an end though, I wanted to share with you some of the special moments from this semester that I haven’t yet had time to blog about. Enjoy!

  • A forum with Soledad O’Brien. 

Soledad O’ Brien will grill you, as I unceremoniously found out during an impromptu Q&A after the forum. She had come to the Institute of Politics to talk to a group of about 40 undergraduates about politics and public service in a more casual setting. There was pizza, there were stickers, there was 90′s music.

She came in, stood at the podium, and instead of launching into the banal stump speech glittered with inspirational stories and encouraging mantras, fired a question at us: Why do you want to go into this field (politics)? It seems to me that there are a lot more effective ways to affect change, she challenged us. She stood defiant. No one answered her at first. “Well this is going to be a pretty short meeting,” she chuckled.

She wasn’t there to inspire us, she was there to make us think.

Seeing her at the last JFK Junior Forum was more than just a treat. Part of what is so unique about the Harvard experience is the opportunity to not just hear from and sit in the room with amazing people who do incredible work, but too to talk to them, to ask them questions, to learn from them. These experiences give Harvard students a most special outlook on the world and, at least my case and in the case of this forum, the opportunity to figure out what it is that they want.

I chair this program called Women’s Initiative in Leadership (WIL) at the Institute of Politics. We were lucky to get a picture with Soledad before the forum!!

  •  Art’s First & Yellow Flowers
There are moments when I am really proud of my school. Like the weekend after the bombings at the Boston Marathon. One of the really cool things going on at Harvard this semester was the construction of a new Science Center Plaza. The Plaza– which is this awesome new common space (check out my pictures!)– was to be unveiled on Friday, the day that we were on lockdown as the police tried to find the suspect. And so, unfortunately, the big unveiling ceremony Harvard had scheduled was postponed and Visitas was cancelled. But the Harvard community turned right back around and the very next Friday, yellow flowers lined the plaza. They were free for all community members and students. More than that, boards with well wishes for the victims of the attack lined our plaza. It was so heartening to see such warmth in those yellow flowers after such a tumultuous and chaotic few days. It was a strong reminder of the common spaces that are slowly bridging together our community and keeping us forever more #BostonStrong.
  • Special Places
Reading Period is a blessing in disguise. For five or so days before finals, Harvard gives us a reading period so that we can drill down, write our papers, and prepare for finals. It’s a blessing because not many college students get one. It’s not so much a blessing because, let’s face it, preparing for finals is not always so fun. BUT reading periods are actually one of my favorite weeks because it always affords me the chance to do a little more exploring– nothing motivates me to go outside my usual “Harvard spaces” than the need to study and find a new place to keep me motivated. So here’s just a round up in picture of the favorite places I’ve uncovered this week. They are sure to go down in my list of favorites! 

Weather like this makes me want to stay outside all the live long day. For days like this, Winthrop Courtyard– or really any courtyard– is just perfect!

The Business School has been GORGEOUS these past few days so I’ve been soaking in as much as time as possible… anything to get me across the river 🙂

You see what I mean?! Here’s me on the Business School courtyard!

And, did I mention the RIVER?! #tooperfect
Happy spring! I’ll see you on the other side– that is, of finals 🙂

I’ll be honest. Until this week I didn’t quite know what community at Harvard looked like. A sophomore transplanted in a new residential house after a semester away, I was lost for a little while. I’ve been trying to find my own rhythm.

But this week.

This week has been surreal. Bizarre. Crazy. Scary. Humbling.

But when you can get up and go to the dining hall and are greeted by smiling dining hall workers who trekked out at 5 in the morning– even though the rest of the city was on shutdown– just so that they can feed you, you know you’re taken care of. When three junior boys roll up their sleeves and help the dining hall staff by wiping down tables and replenishing napkins, you know that people get it. When practically your whole residential house finds itself in the dining hall laughing and chatting and asking in earnest– how are you?— you know that you are a part of something much bigger than yourself.

I cannot tell you how many texts, how many emails, how many hugs I have received this past week but I will tell you that every single one of them has reminded me of how magical this place is and how there IS a community here. A community that I’m a part of. It’s not a perfect community by any means but it’s one that cares first and foremost about the safety and the well being of every single student here. And I mean that.

Never have I felt more a part of not just this school but too this community, this city. Together, we are #BostonStrong.



For those of you out there who were intending to come to Visitas weekend, I hate that we won’t get to show you the really amazing things about Harvard. But please reach out. Get on twitter and tweet at us at @HarvardBloggers. Join our #virtualvisitas and ask your questions. I assure you that the undergraduates here want to welcome YOU to our family. Boston and Harvard are so incredible, you’ll want to be here!

This past weekend I was so lucky to get to attend the Women in the World Summit. It is honestly an opportunity that I wouldn’t have had had it not been for Harvard, specifically for the Institute of Politics Women’s Initiative in Leadership (WIL). WIL is an AWESOME extracurricular (if I can be so bold to even reduce it to that!) that I have been involved with since freshmen fall. Now, as a sophomore, I have the privilege of chairing this awesome Institute of Politics program and passing on to the women that have since joined the awesome opportunities, advice, and lessons I’ve picked up along the way.

The Back Story:

WIL was created in 2006 under the directive of the former Director of the Harvard Institute of Politics and current Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). The program is meant to expose aspiring female undergraduates to incredible women leaders across Harvard and beyond and too, to give them the necessary skills workshops they need to grow their own leadership. So what does that mean? Well, we host everything from a skills workshop on networking and public speaking to engagements with Current Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and the head of HKS’ Women and Public Policy Program Victoria Budson. And I’m just getting started.

This past weekend, the IOP funded 8 of our women to go on an all expenses-paid trip to NYC where we attended the Women in the world Summit. The summit is jam packed with speakers and panels and special showcases of incredible women– from Hillary Clinton to Meryl Streep to Angelina Jolie to Ambassador Susan Rice. The chance to get to sit in the room with these women– and literally just a few feet away from them– was simply amazing. I mean when will I ever be 10 feet away from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton? What’s more, the summit gave all of us the chance to engage, learn about, and talk with people who are really passionate about women’s issues– from stopping human trafficking in Argentina to helping refugees in Syria to saving the orphans of Sierra Leone. A summit like this goes by fast but never fails to inspire. I was blown away by the progress women HAVE made and although saddened by the reality that things simply aren’t always fair, I was emboldened by the fact that there were SO many incredibly women (and men) in that theatre with us calling for change and willing to take actionable steps to make it happen.

Our delegation of WIL women at the Summit!

Just some of the highlights for me:

Horribly grainy again but PROOF that we saw her 😉

We randomly ran into Angelina Jolie on the first night of the event. No big deal. I was blown away by her genuineness– and how even as millions of people clamored to take a photo of and with her, she maintained her cool, acted as if it was completely normal, and went on talking about the Congo.

Tom Hanks gave an incredibly moving tribute to Nora Ephron, the legendary screenwriter and journalist. His tribute came complete with some of my favorite scenes from Sleepless in Seattle. Nora’s work certainly does speak to the cultural, political, and social realities of our times.

Oprah interviewed her personal hero Tererai Trent, a Zimbabwe woman who was married off to an abusive husband when she was just 11 years old but who nonetheless insisted that she would get an education, that doing so would be the only way for her to break the cycle of poverty in her family. Tererai talked about her struggles to get an undergraduate degree and then a master’s degree and then a doctorate degree in the United States. She relayed the story of her days living in a trailer park with her kids and abusive husband. She talked about how her kids would beg for fruits and vegetables and how she made a deal with the grocery store in Oklahoma that she would pick up their old vegetables every Friday at 5:30. She told us of how many times she was late and those vegetables ended up in the trash– and she dug into the trash and retrieved those vegetables and washed them as hard as she could for her children. She was, simply put, inspiring.

The picture is a little grainy– but we were literally 5 feet away from her… we had seats in the very first row 🙂

And then there was Hillary Clinton. I don’t think the applause and standing ovation we gave her in the Lincoln Center could ever be enough. She has revolutionized foreign policy and made central something that has not always been thought to be so important: the empowerment of women the world over. What she has done for foreign policy through her efforts to really invest in women and girls far away from America’s borders simply cannot be measured. But I know that these investments, this commitment to these women will pay off so much more in the future.

There are just some of the events that took my breath away. They are numbered amongst the image of a young dancer from Harlem– a former orphan in Sierra Leone– doing her dance and in so doing, telling people her story. They are lined with the words of young female inventors, passionate about not just talking about but too making change. They are captured with the soundtrack of the Me N Ma Girls of Burma, young women who with their lyrics have managed to express and inspire even from behind the gates of censure and repression in their homeland, a country that itself is undergoing massive renewal and transformation. To say that this event left me inspired and energized would be an understatement. This event left me ready– ready to come back to Harvard and use my experiences to really do something with WIL to make an impact. And I must say, it’s these kinds of inspiring, empowering, get-off-your-butt and do something experiences that have made my Harvard experience. And that have made me a better student, a better person, and better citizen all the same. I wouldn’t trade these experiences for the world.

Pathetic or not, I’ll be the first to admit that the only reason I remember the exact day that I CHOSE Harvard was because of… Will & Kate’s Wedding. That’s right folks, I made my decision the eve of the big royal wedding and when it was announced in the morning that the newlyweds would be called the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge, let’s just say I took it as a sign from above that I had made the right choice.

To be honest, at the time, I didn’t quite know if Harvard was just right. And now if you asked me I’d say: you know those decisions you make that you look back on and say wow– that actually changed my life. Well choosing to come to Harvard changed my life. In more than just I moved out- I started living on my own- tried the whole college experience kind of way. In entering Harvard, I entered a really special, really busy, really magical world. A world that I can’t believe I can call my own.

So every year on decision day, I try and stop and count my blessings because this place makes me feel so lucky, so very blessed. For those college seniors out there, CONGRATULATIONS– whatever you decision process entails, I have a hunch you’ll end up where you belong. And while I may be *slightly* biased, I want to preface this manifesto of love for this school that I myself was once both scared by and in awe of by saying that whatever next step you take, whatever next school you choose… make it your own. Take it in stride and really live college. Because it truly is a most wonderful 4 years– and this coming from someone who’s only halfway through!

And if I can be so lucky to sway you at all, here’s just a roundup of the top 5 things I count among my blessings here at Harvard each decision day (and every other day in between 🙂

1. Hours-long meal conversations. Being here I’ve realized that it won’t always be easy to just walk 5 minutes from my room to catch up with a friend I haven’t seen in a while. Visiting new dining halls, soaking in conversation– both inane and intellectual– and just spending hours with close friends is something I love about Harvard life, something I’ve found myself doing even more as I’ve entered my residential house.  

My blocking group at dinner in Boston– one of our favorite things to do!

2. It’s hard looking from high school to know what exactly the Harvard experience entails. But when you’re in Jerusalem and you see your professor and an IOP Fellow (with whom you just had a conversation with literally the other day!) advising the president or interviewing someone on CNN… and when you realize that at your school you can just go up and talk to those people… well, it sort of still blows my mind. The ability to sit in the room with amazing people and learn from them, observe them, and work with them is not one afforded to most students, but it’s one I am constantly in awe of.

During my freshmen year, social entrepreneur, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, and Grameen Bank Founder Muhammad Yunus TAUGHT one of my social entrepreneurship classes. And then my twin sister and I got to talk with him. Life made. All in a day of school 🙂

3. Support Systems. This past weekend two of my roommates were in a dance show called Eastbound... and my whole blocking group showed up to cheer them on. Being in a room hearing so many people cheer their friends on always reassures me that I’m not just in school, but too a community.

The people you can sled down stone steps with are often the people you can count on for just about anything 🙂

4. Incredible Views. The river at sunset from Mather House is one of my favorite things to take in. Always.

One of my favorites, a ‘purple sunset’– all from the comfort of my dining hall. Certainly makes you pause for a little bit!

5. A chance to push myself. Really push myself.

And this one takes a little more explaining. When I chose Harvard, I chose it not because it was the perfect fit for me– in fact, if I’m being completely honest, I was bouncing between so many schools at that time it was hard to keep one school straight from the other. But one thing really struck me about Harvard. It was the sense, the feeling that there was the chance, the capacity, the wherewithal to dare the standard… to dream. I’m surrounded by students here who have amazing ideas, incredible aspirations– and the crazy beautiful thing about this place is unlike the real world, Harvard makes you feel like you can do just about anything. And there will be people along the way waiting to lend you a hand and help show you the way. That feeling doesn’t just show up anywhere. It’s a sense of opportunity and unknowingness and possibility that can be scary and overwhelming and so incredible all at once. But two years after the fact it’s the one little feeling I still get that I am so thankful for. Being reminded daily of the many possibilities out there pushes me, drives me, forces me outside my comfort zone. And because of that I know that this place and these 4 years will allow me to grow in ways I never ever imagined as a high school student.


Spring break kicked off last Thursday for me. And I can’t think of better timing. Last week was filled with a whole lot of midterms and Women’s Week Events so I’m especially glad for the chance to slow down a little and sleep 🙂

So, amidst all of Mather’s Housing Day craziness, my twin sister and I packed up all our luggage and headed to the airport to board our flight. But first… we decided to make a pit-stop in Rome. It was my first time in Italy and it was absolutely amazing! It was so nice just walking up and down the streets of Rome, eating gelato, and taking in all the sights– the people on the streets, the artisans and their handiwork, the streetside cafés and gelatarias. Roma even in late winter is absolutely delightful. It’s a city with it’s own personality for sure! My twin sister and I only had 12 hours and we wanted to make the most of it so after finding our way around the train station we hit the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain (my favorite!), the Vatican, and the Spanish Steps. It was a lot in a little bit of time but I can’t think of a better way to use a layover. After trekking around Rome for a day, getting my fill of gelato, pizza, expresso, and cannoli we boarded our flight to our real destination: Israel!

So you’re probably thinking— Israel? It’s not exactly the stuff of beach get-aways and normal spring break trips. Most of my friends either headed home or hit the beach. But my whole family was planning a reunion in Israel (my uncle is currently stationed there as part of his post with the UN) and I couldn’t think of a better place to be. Granted, this trip hasn’t really been a vacation. It’s been really educational and incredibly insightful– just thinking about the history of this place and the current international climate it finds itself in blows my mind. The views, the cityscapes, the sites we’ve visited have been amazing. Not to mention, President Obama’s trip just happened to coincide with my visit to Israel so I’ve had more of an opportunity to openly talk with Israelis and Palestinians alike about US-Israel/Palestine relations and just what they think are the prospects for peace in this tumultuous region.

It’s been a really different kind of Spring Break to say the least but one I wouldn’t want to trade for the world. We’ve covered so much in just 7 days– from Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, Dome of the Rock, and Via Dolorosa (the path that Jesus Christ is said to have made to his crucifixtion and eventual resurrection) to the Dead Sea and Bethlehem up to the north of the country and to the coastline in Tel Aviv– and I can feel my brain literally expanding take this part of the world– a part I’ve never really gotten to know– in. Now I’m just bracing myself to leave this world of falafel, mango juice, chicken schwarma and hummus for good ol’ Harvard once more 🙂 Happy weekend!


One of my most favorite days of the year is coming up: HOUSING DAY 2013. So of course, I thought I’d share in on the fun with all of you.


At Harvard, all freshmen are randomly assigned a freshmen dorm the summer prior to their first year. Most freshmen dorms are right in Harvard Yard with the exception being three dorm buildings– we call them the ‘Union dorms’– located a little bit farther away. Here’s just a few of them:

THEN in the middle of freshmen year, students choose up to 7 friends to “block” with and up to 8 more to “link” with. Blockmates are the people you essentially get to live with for the rest of your three years at Harvard and linkmates are close friends who are guaranteed to be placed in a house adjacent to yours…. which gets to…


There are 12 upperclassmen residential houses. There’s a lot of debate about which house is THE BEST HOUSE but rest assured they all have great qualities. The main distinction is whether you get a “river house”– Adams, Quincy, Lowell, Leverett, Mather, Dunster, Winthrop, Eliot, Kirkland– or a “quad” house– Currier, Cabot, and Pforzheimer. We “rival” and joke about which house is the best and which one’s the worst but really at the end of the day, these houses become your home at Harvard. You get to be a part of a smaller community right on campus and get to really know the people in your house. It’s one of the things I love about Harvard life.

Ok, so anyways: every blocking group gets randomly assigned to a house (think Harry Potter and the sorting hat 😉 AND then…

Here’s just one of the houses: Cabot House in the Quad


All your blockmates gather in one central room and early in the morning a crowd of people from your new house come storming in to tell you which house you got. It’s pretty much like Christmas morning. At least that’s what I think.

Flashback: my housing day last year when all my roomies found out we got MATHER HOUSE! I’m telling you, it was like Christmas morning 🙂 


We rev up all the house pride here on campus with each house releasing it’s own little video about why their house is the best house. Here’s some of my favorites from this year for Mather, Lowell, and Adams!

Not to mention the Crimson releases it’s highly anticipating House Ranking List.

It’s all great fun amidst midterm week and a great chance to bring the Harvard community together. And just for the record, Mather House is the best house. Just so you know 😉

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!


That time during the fall semester that I randomly got on a bus and went all the way to Ohio…one of the best weekends of my life. #2012

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.

The day the President stopped by our offices…

The White House can be one magical place, especially during the holiday season. This is one of my favorite shots from my entire internship…a rare moment of peace in the hallway!

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!

Perhaps the biggest lesson in public service that I learned during my internship…


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