24 Hours in DC: A Coalition Intern’s Experience

Hello!  My name is Sally Hartman.  I am the Coalition’s Legal Fellow this summer, based out of our New York City office.  I’m writing to share a bit about my experience over the course of the past few weeks with the Coalition.

The staff in the New York office has been nice enough to encourage all the New York interns to experience the Coalition’s DC-based work by going there whenever an opportunity arises. Here, I’d like to discuss my trip to Washington, DC last week!

Ok, here is the run down of my 24 hours in DC:

Wednesday,

June 23, 3:30 PM

Meeting at the law firm Covington & Burling with Coalition staff members Am

ardeep Singh (Amar) and Rajdeep Singh.  Covington & Burling is providing pro bono assistance to the Sikh Coalition on its TSA work.  What a great team they are! They were full of inspired ideas about how to bring our concerns with the TSA to the forefront in the unique political world of DC.

Wednesday, June 23, 6:00PM

Art of Gaman Exhibit at the Smithsonian. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP) put on quite the show.  The exhibit was full of beautiful crafts created by Japanese-Americans interned at camps in the United States during WWII. Amazing to think that such beauty emerged from such terrible circumstances.

Wednesday, June 23, 7:00PM

Amar participated in a panel discussion at the Art of Gaman reception.  He delivered a thoughtful and moving speech.  People all around me were both shocked and inspired to hear stories about the challenges facing the Sikh community.  A great platform to reach leading members of the Asian community, as well as others interested in advancing the broader Civil Rights discussion.

Thursday, June 24, 10:00AM

I joined Rajdeep and the Coalition’s DC interns, Namisha Kaur and Paramveer Singh on Capitol Hill. It’s a HOT day in Washington. Our first stop was the office of Congressman Leonard Lance from New Jersey. He has been historically sympathetic to Sikh-specific issues.  We were seeking co-sponsorship for the proposed Workplace Religious Freedom Act (it hasn’t been introduced yet), a bill that would make it much easier for Sikhs to freely practice their religion in the workplace. It was an encouraging discussion, and we are hopeful Congressman Lance will take a lead on this issue.

Thursday, June 24, 11:00AM

We had our second meeting with the office of my district’s Congressman, Lamar Smith. It felt great to reach out to my own representative and to articulate how important this issue is to me personally. I think we made great strides in establishing contact, and I hope to follow up with Representative Smith’s office to determine what I can do locally in Austin, Texas (where I live) to further support for WRFA.

Thursday, June 24, 2:00 PM

Our final meeting of the day was with the office of Congressman Mike Honda from California.  We were again pitching for co-sponsorship of WRFA, and got some wonderful feedback from the office staffer.  She indicated that WRFA was something she thought Congressman Honda could definitely support.  A great conclusion to an action-packed day on the Hill!

Thursday, June 24, 4:30 PM

I caught the afternoon bus back to New York.  Aside from a few blisters on my feet from pounding the pavement, I have gained a true appreciation for the hard work and dedication of our Advocacy team. In the course of 24 hours, I met with attorney from a major law firm to discuss advocacy strategy on the TSA matter, enjoyed attending a museum reception for a social justice exhibit, and met staffers in the offices of three Members of Congress. I hope to return to Washington soon!

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