Ashley Cammiso Washington, D.C.
Hi everyone! My name is Ashley Cammiso, and I am a sophomore currently studying in Washington D.C. (which isn’t technically abroad, but we can overlook that for now). As a Finance major with minors in Poverty Studies and Public Service, I wanted to come to D.C. to discern the kind of work I can use my background in business and interest in these areas to do. Surrounded by a cohort of passionate young professionals, I can honestly say that it has been an amazing and transformative experience so far.
I am currently interning at The German Marshall Fund, an international think-tank focused on transnational cooperation between North America and Europe. I specifically work in the Cities Program focusing on how local governments can exchange best practices to fortify democracy, manage migration, break barriers to affordable housing, and engage in international affairs. My favorite part of the internship is how much hope it gives me. I feel inspired meeting with mayors, city officials and local leaders who are working on the ground in the public and private sectors to address some of the most pressing challenges facing societies around the world today.
In addition to my work at GMF, I am in the process of developing a program for low-income school-aged children in the U.S. to participate in a two-week language and cultural exchange program in Italy. Collaborating with the Italian Embassy in the U.S. and Italian and American non-profit organizations based in D.C., I am grateful for the many institutions I have access to here to make this idea into a reality.
In terms of classes, every student in the program takes Foundations of Public Policy and a Policy Visits course. Taught by Professor Kellenberg, these have been some of my favorite courses I have taken in college! The conversations are very discussion based, and I always learn something new from my peers. I love that we continue these conversations on the way home and in our apartments. D.C. is the place where the most important political, economic, and social policies for our nation are formed, so being asked and encouraged to think critically about them is an important part of the program’s success. We meet with Notre Dame alumni in the area to hear about the important work that they are doing, and I’m always really grateful to hear about their experiences and journeys to their current positions.
In terms of electives, I am currently taking Campaigns and Elections and U.S. Foreign Policy. For the former, we learn all about how Congressional campaigns are structured and won, and I appreciate how my professor includes his professional experience into the course. We have a moderated debate as our midterm assignment next week, so wish me luck with that! The latter course has been really insightful as well, especially with the tragic events unfolding in Ukraine this week. Some speakers from that class have included former high-ranking NSA and CIA officials, who have been thrilling to talk to.
Engaging with the city has been a really important part of the program as well. I recently went to Artechouse, an exhibit that focuses on the intersection of art and technology. It was one of the most different and engaging events I have attended, and I highly recommend it to anyone visiting the area. Recently, a few students and I also tried Immigrant Food, a restaurant run by immigrants serving lots of international dishes, and went to Planet Word, a museum on language located near the Keough School of Global Affairs’ campus. It was really wonderful, and I think I might go back again before the semester ends.
The other notable aspect of my time in D.C. has been my faith life. We typically go to mass in Georgetown on Sundays and then stay after to explore the area and try a new restaurant (including sitting in the booth where John F. Kennedy proposed to Jackie). We met Speaker Pelosi at mass, the same week that we ran into Corey Booker outside the Capitol. These are experiences I can truly say really do only happen in D.C.!
Hi everyone! What a wonderful semester it has been so far, and how grateful I am for the many amazing experiences I have enjoyed since my most recent blog! Here is a quick look into what I have done in the past month or so:
With spring in the air, my roommate and I recently went to the cherry blossom festival and, I have to say, it did not disappoint. Seeing everyone outside and the beautiful pink flowers across the city has been magical, and I highly recommend anyone who has not seen them yet plans a trip as soon as possible (since they only bloom for a few weeks each year).
Unfortunately, last month saw the tragic invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces. Being in D.C., I am grateful to live in a city so committed to responding to tragedies such as this one happening across the world. The protests that took place and support that has been shown by residents and policymakers alike inspires me to stand up in the face of injustice no matter where I am. We have also been witnesses to the confirmation hearings of Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman nominated to the Supreme Court in U.S. history.
Last week, while attending mass at Holy Trinity in Georgetown, President Joe Biden was there as well (along with his Secret Service detail). I will certainly miss living in the midst of such historical developments and running into such historical figures when my program ends next month!
I have also been fortunate to connect with many Notre Dame alumni living in the area, including former senior officials for the CIA and NSA, a current program analyst for the U.S. Secret Service, and lawyers for the U.S. House Financial Services Committee and Department of Justice. I have so much to learn from each of their journeys and hope to share my experiences and time with students who plan to participate in the program in the future.
As the city removes its indoor mask mandate, so many exciting social experiences have popped up as well. I recently attended an exhibit for Michaelangelo’s Sistine Chapel and have plans to attend the FRIEND’s experience nearby as well. Further, next week I am ecstatic to attend the Bridgerton Ball and the week after look forward to a candlelight ballet performance.
There is so much culture and excitement I almost feel overwhelmed at all of the things I want to do! When my parents come to move me out, we will attend the Van Gogh Museum together as a final way to engage with everything D.C. has to offer.
I still managed to go back to Notre Dame for one weekend, and it was really nice to be back on campus and see everyone. I am sure it will be a big adjustment when I return from the pace of D.C., but I know these experiences will be invaluable in the courses that I take and activities I participate in. Gaining these insights will also allow me to flourish this summer while I am in Rome. I have even begun taking Italian classes (generously funded by a scholarly engagement grant from CUSE) at Casa Italiana Sociocultural Center to better prepare for my internship at the Vatican. I am excited to compare my time and life in Rome with that of D.C. and definitely feel better prepared for the independence that will come with this experience.
Perhaps one of my favorite parts of D.C. is how close it is to other cities and places as well. My friends and I took a trip to Alexandria where we got to walk by the water while listening to live music, take tours of some of the oldest buildings in the DMV area(D.C.-Maryland-Virginia), and eat at a tavern that George Washington frequented while he was alive. Of course, I also managed to spend some time shopping at all of the cute shops they had (being close to so many boutiques is something my wardrobe loves but my budget hates!).
I do not know what to expect from my final month in D.C., but I am sure if it is anything like the last few, it will be transformative and eye-opening, some things I simply cannot wait for.