Domhnaill Harkin

Making the Most of DC

Domhnaill is currently studying a Higher Diploma in Social Policy in UCD and previously graduated from DCU with a Law degree. He is very interested in politics and is an active member of Young Fine Gael. Domhnaill previously held the sabbatical position of Welfare and Equality Officer in the DCU Students Union from 2015-2016, during which time he worked extensively on improving access to accommodation for students and their tenancy rights. Domhnaill is a member of the Board of Directors for Spunout.ie, Ireland’s premier youth information website, and is also a member of the US Embassy Youth Council. His main interests are youth involvement in politics and seeking to address issues affecting young people in Ireland today.

 

Student
Domhnaill Harkin

University
University College Dublin

Degree
Social Policy

Work Placement
AFL-CIO HIT

Host Family
Monique Choiniere

Date Published
June 14, 2017

I arrived in Washington over a week ago and I don’t think I’ve stopped sweating yet. It’s like walking into an oven outside. The temperature was 33 degrees the other day and the humidity is stifling. I know we Irish always complain about the rain but I will never again after this. At this stage I’ll be doing rain dances to the rain god soon. I’ve also been making the most of the food here, I’ve had the famous Five Guys burger and chips three times and I think I’ll be the size of five guys when I come home. Dunkin Donuts has also become a staple for me. The large sweetened iced tea and two donuts have become my weakness and basically my breakfast, though I did bring a salad to work yesterday so I’m trying my best.

Our first week consisted of various orientation events and it was great opportunity for us to learn more about DC and of course get to know each other better. There are some real characters in the class and I haven’t stopped laughing since I arrived, I’ve definitely made friends for life. We had some great speakers the first week from both sides of the political spectrum. Jim Boland an Irishman who left Leitrim in 1974 and is now President of one of the biggest trade unions in America, the Bricklayers and Allied Craft Workers Union. He’s very much a Democrat and supported Hillary during the presidential campaign. We also had Jim Walsh a second generation Irish American who is a former Republican Congressman. Both these men offered their opinions and views on the current political climate in DC.

During our first week former FBI Director James Comey was testifying in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee in Capitol Hill on his firing as FBI director by President Trump. We had only visited Capitol Hill the day before. On the day of his testimony we actually had a great view of Capital Hill from the museum we were visiting and it was surreal to think this was happening right now and we were only a mile away from it all. Being in Washington DC is in general surreal, we’ve all seen the films and TV shows set here whether its House of Cards, the West Wing or Scandal just to name a few. To actually be here and to see the buildings and places feels strange. The first time I walked onto the National Mall and could see Capitol Hill, The White House, The Washington Monument and The Lincoln memorial it just took my breath away. I had to pinch myself and be like I’m actually here.

I’m trying my best to enjoy every minute and take every opportunity and go everywhere but when you’re getting up at 7 every day and sometimes not getting home till after nine maybe ten it’s hard to gather the energy. There’s so much to see in this city and I feel like I don’t have enough time even though I’m here till the end of July. A lot of WIP alumni I know told me I can sleep in August and at this stage I’ll be in a coma. I know the whole experience will fly by and I just need to enjoy every single minute of it as I’ll be back to my boring life In Ireland in no time.

I started my internship on Monday and I’m on my third day, I’m interning in the Housing Investment Trust section of the trade union AFL-CIO. It’s still early days and everyone is very friendly and I’m looking forward to learning more about the organization and what it does.

The program has been fantastic so far and I can’t wait to see what lays in store over the next few weeks. We have our first day of volunteering on Friday and we go to New York in two weeks. I have to keep reminding myself how lucky I am to be here and just take it all in as it will be over as soon as it started. I always say to myself to never have any regrets in anything I say or do which does get me into trouble sometimes, but life is short and you only get one! I plan to enjoy this summer staying true to my mantra. I’ll never have an experience like this again and I need to make the most of it. So whether that’s going out all night and going straight to work from the club or trying to sneak into the White House I’ll take the risk.