Diana Oprea

The Urban Jazz Jungle

Diana is currently in first year studying Global Business (Canada) in DCU. Born and raised in Romania, she welcomed Ireland as her home 6 years ago. Diana is passionate about global education and an advocate of the Sustainable Development Goals. Her experience of volunteering in Mexico motivated her to take a leadership role with the student-led organization AIESEC. She currently coordinates a team of 15 who provide DCU students with volunteering opportunities and experiences abroad. Diana has also been working for the past four years with Future Voices Ireland, providing self-development workshops to young people coming from disadvantaged areas and schools, while also volunteering with organizations such as UNICEF Ireland and Plan International to ensure inclusiveness, youth empowerment and leadership in both her community and abroad.

 

Student
Diana Oprea

University
Dublin City University

Degree
Global Business (Canada)

Work Placement
The American Chemistry Council

Host Family
Ellen Weiss

Date Published
June 10, 2017

First, there was a saxophone.

Then came the soothing piano. The bass guitar slowly joining the symphony with gentle strums…and there was us too, 30 “wippers” sprawled on the grass of the Sculpture Garden after our first week in Washington D.C.

Half sun-burnt and half-alive, with our office shirts and ties hanging loose in the scorching heat of a Friday afternoon, listening to the soothing rhythms of a jazz concert, courtesy of “Jazz in the Garden”.

Slowly but surely, the entire metropole seemed to be deserting the A/C filled offices to join the rhythms of the garden. The food trucks were lining up along the wide boulevards of D.C., ready to welcome a myriad of hungry people with hot-dogs, sandwiches and from time to time, even a salad. From every entrance of the park, long ques were forming in large spirals ahead of the security guards. One by one, children, teenagers and grandparents armed with picnic baskets and blankets were slowly making their way inside the garden hunting for the scarce empty green spaces they could claim as their own. Voluminous, summery dresses were painting the picture like small flowers on a vast green field and the children’s smiling faces and their cries of joy were a reminder of what childhood felt like once upon a time.

It all felt a bit surreal, like a page ripped out of a novel or a fantasy book in which all of us had our own roles to play as part of the story. The entirety of the first week spent in Washington D.C. was racing through my thoughts as if time was pressed on fast-forward and all I could do was wonder if all of this was just a dream and me, a powerless spectator?

If someone would have told me back in November when I first opened the WIP application that seven months forward I would be a part of this story I would have walked away, thinking what a fool that person must be. And even during that first week in D.C., after meeting numerous high-profile CEOs, politicians and inspirational speakers, after passing through luxurious office rooms and cautiously climbing the steps of Capitol Hill in my tiny high heels for the traditional WIP group photo, it still felt like it was all just a dream. But for the first time since I arrived in Washington D.C., that afternoon spent in the Sculpture Garden, surrounded by the soothing jazz rhythms, embraced by the different smells arising from every corner and the sun, gently stroking my face, that was the first moment when I fully realised that it was real. I was part of the story, part of the WIP Class of 2017 alongside 29 other inspirational young people who within the space of that week quickly became my role models.

We were all part of the same narrative for two months, thrown in the middle of the urban jungle that is Washington D.C. and guided carefully along the way to find our steps and dance to the rhythms of jazz found within the pages of a leadership curriculum.