United States Institute of Peace

Nicholas Massenburg-abraham

American Politics

January 29, 2018 | There is nothing quite like waking up in the nation’s capital with a cohort of like-minded students, engaging in the realities of young adult life—all while trying to make better sense of ourselves and who we would like to become in an increasingly competitive and vibrant society.

The above was my motivation for taking a gap year – I wanted to discover a better sense of myself and who I would like to become. For the first half of my gap year, I was plagued by seemingly insurmountable difficulties and tragedy at home and had some trouble with this goal. My daily routine consisted of working five hours a day in the real world of “grown-ups” and the hustle and bustle of the tri-state’s urban sprawl. I would spend the evenings with my grandparents over jeopardy and some unfathomably delicious meal my grandmother prepared earlier that afternoon. The day usually came to a close around 9PM. Let us, for argument’s sake, agree that there was little room for me to do any real social and intellectual blossoming in the crowded square footage of my bedroom, bathed in the analog light of Friends on Nick at Nite.

As January started though, I found myself on AU’s campus. I was nervous, but also exhilarated by the idea of being inherently unique as a gap year student. Orientation thrust me into the great work of honing my interview and job marketing skills, questioning most notions I had about what it meant to intern or develop a career. I got to explore the historic landscape of DC with my new friends, though ultimately taking dead last in the scavenger hunt that would have landed us the hottest ticket in town at the Italian embassy.

Next, Professor Gur jumped right into the experiences that make the AU Gap Program so unique – visits to the US Institute of Peace and the State Department are only the beginning of the adventures she will enthusiastically guide us in exploring throughout this semester. I’ve also done some surveying of my own, visiting historic Georgetown and a talk led by Jeb Bush at the American Enterprise Institute. As a liberal, the latter was a fascinating cross-ideological discussion of school choice in the face of an ever increasingly automated technological society. I feel right at home in DC’s political arena.

I can only imagine what awaits me as I become more a part of the AU community and work as a social media and digital content intern with the National Press Club with the news media clearinghouse American Forum. The dream to one day be dead center in the Fourth Estate as a media specialist is being realized earlier than I ever conceived possible. My hopes for self-discovery and personal actualization are already becoming less ethereally existential, and more of a reality thanks to what I hope will be a great semester. The amazing friends, the exquisite cuisine of DC’s diverse communities, and the immense history and promise in this city are an undeniable part of what has so far made my experience one of the best of my life. Here’s to more greatness in the months to come!