Vivian with her colleagues at her internship at the Make-a-Wish FoundationVivian Ehrenreich

April 15, 2019 | Hey guys! Thanks for sticking with me all the way to the last blog post! I only have a couple weeks left of my gap year which is bittersweet. On one hand, I’m sad about leaving Make-A-Wish, American University, and everyone I’ve met in the past half year. On the other hand, I’m really excited to start college and get to know a new place.

Since we only have a couple of weeks left, my professors have been increasing the volume of assignments and intensity of classes. We just handed in changemaker memos where we had to detail a time where we made a change and what we learned about ourselves. In a couple of weeks, we have to hand in informational interview summaries. I’ve chosen to interview the CEO of Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic which I’m excited about since she is a really accomplished woman. After that, we have end-of-year oral presentations where we talk about the biggest lesson we learned from our internships. I’m not looking forward to the orals since I hate speaking in front of an audience, but hopefully it’ll be painless. In my International Relations class, we have been equally as busy. We went to an event yesterday where we were able to listen to Susan Rice and other female panelists speak about a variety of issues. On Thursday, my friend and I are leading a discussion on the Iran Nuclear Deal, so we have been preparing for that.

The cherry blossoms have been in full bloom this week, so my friends and I went to the Tidal Basin to see them. It was so picturesque with the Jefferson Memorial in the background and people in boats on the water. This weekend I’m going to the National Arboretum which should be beautiful, especially in 75-degree sunny weather! Lately I’ve also been taking advantage of exercise classes in the area. I did the free week of Corepower yoga and took Zumba classes at AU's Cassell gym which has really been a lot of fun.

Cherry Blossoms in downtown Washington, DCYesterday was Make-A-Wish’s Evening of Wishes gala. The event was super long for me; I got to the venue at 10 am and left at 2 am the next day, but so worth it. I spent the majority of the time helping set up the silent auction room and leading guests to registration. It was so fun to see the venue go from a huge empty room into this beautiful ballroom. It was really cool to see elements of things I had helped with come together, especially the items in the silent auction. I also liked that I got an inside look into what and how much work is put into an event.

Overall my experience at the AU Gap Program has exceeded my expectations. I’ve gotten to know amazing people and had such unique experiences that will help me professionally. It was also fun to experience the amount of responsibility needed for college, and to know what to look for in a college based on what aspects I liked about American.

Blog History

Vivian with her best friend.Vivian Ehrenreich

April 1, 2019 | Now that spring break is over the final leg of the program has just begun! It’s finally starting to look a lot like spring and the cherry blossoms are beginning to bloom.

This last week one of my best friends visited me so it was really fun to show her around the city. My favorite part was probably running from the AU dorms to DuPont Circle and eating breakfast at the Fishhook Bakery. Fishhook Bakery is probably my favorite bakery in DC because the atmosphere is cute and the baked goods themselves are baked fresh. I highly recommend going there and it’s super easy to get to on the red line. From DuPont we walked to the National Mall which sounds super far but really was only a 45 minute run and then a 20-minute walk of just going straight.

I also went to the Capitol for the first time since coming to DC and it was nice going there on a weekday with such great weather. On Capitol Hill, I was able to see where one of my friends is interning and eat at the Congressional Cafeteria which was actually really fun.

Classes have also been going well since Spring Break and we are starting to pick up the pace. In my International Relations class, we are starting to talk about nuclear proliferation and we actually went to the Department of State to hear a speaker talk about it. The speaker specialized in counter-terrorism so it was really interesting to hear his thoughts on the threat of nuclear weapons. I love how, in the IR class, we get to hear professional talk about what we are learning about it in our in-class discussions facilitated by our professor. This unique hands on learning experience wouldn’t be possible in any other city in the US and I love how DC bridges the gap between student and professional. My internship class has also been going well. We have a two-paged memo due Tuesday and I’m a little stressed about that. Besides that, I’ve really enjoyed how we are able to pinpoint aspects of our personality to use or avoid using in the workplace.

The U.S. Capitol BuildingMy internship has been getting steadily more and more busy. One of the most important fundraising events at Make-A-Wish is coming up in a couple of weeks and it’s been a lot of work getting things done before then. Even though it’s been busy, I really like the additional tasks because I can see how it’s one less thing for my supervisor to worry about. I also had a progress meeting with my supervisor how say that I’m doing well which is good (not only because it’s like 60% of my internship grade) because it’s nice to hear feedback.

The fact that it will be April next week hasn’t really registered to me yet. It’s insane how we have a little over a month left and then I’ll be leaving DC. I’m excited for the weeks to come because there are so many things to look forward to; the Make-A-Wish gala and walks, the cherry blossoms being in full bloom and getting to explore the city in the springtime. Until next time!

Vivian with friends at a protest in downtown Washington, DCVivian Ehrenreich

March 18, 2019 | Since my last blog, things have been really busy at my internship with Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic (go to au_gap to see my Instagram takeover!). I was able to become a lot more involved in the actual wishes. First, I went to an airport send off for two kids going to Disney. Then a couple of days ago I got to volunteer at a wish! The kid’s wish was to be a superhero so the kid went from shop to shop trying the find the Make-A-Wish employees dressed as villains. I loved seeing that side of Make-A-Wish, because I just work on the upcoming events normally and, more importantly, it’s the whole point of the organization. Also the Evening of Wishes is happening in less than a month so there has been a lot of scrambling to sort out the auction packages and get businesses to contribute. Weirdly enough, I love the hectic atmosphere, because then I feel like I’m doing a lot and helping out the most. I’m sure this pressure will continue to mount as the event comes up and the two walks after that!

I’ve been doing a lot outside of my internship too. I went to Alexandria for the first time which was great since one of my friends was able to drive us. However, Alexandria is really accessible by the metro— a couple of stops from the airport. The city was super cute and the Goodwill was worth the drive. Hopefully, I’ll go back before leaving DC!

My friends and I wanted to go somewhere new to eat so, as an afterthought, we decided to go to Bethesda, which is pretty close to campus. It was actually such a cute town and we were finally able to try Georgetown cupcakes—which are so good. I highly recommend the chocolate peanut one.

Vivian with friends at the NewseumI also went to the Newseum with our international relations class. My favorite part of the museum was this room that had all the biggest world events in the last 200ish years as newspaper covers. So you got to see what the cover of the newspaper looked like on 9/11, when the Titanic sunk and even the Salem witch trials! There was also a part of the museum dedicated to news relayed through comedy like James Corden, Trevor Noah and Jimmy Kimmel, which was entertaining to just sit there and laugh.

Yesterday was the first day of spring break already and I can’t believe how fast the time has gone! It’s crazy to me that I only have less than two months here and then my gap year is over. My favorite part of this experience has definitely been meeting the people in my program and internship and becoming used to a new city. The people that I’ve met here are so fun to be around while also able to take part in meaningful conversations. Exploring DC has also been a highlight, because now I feel like I can be a tour guide (to a certain extent) and get around without too much trouble. I’m excited to see what else DC has in store for me the last couple months of the program!

African American Museum on the National MallVivian Ehrenreich

March 4, 2019 | Hi again! A lot has happened since my last post so let’s get into it! I’m finally falling into a routine at my internship and really enjoying the work. I love how I’ve never had to do the same thing from day to day. Yesterday, I spent a good part of the day putting together folders for Make-A-Wish volunteers. The time before that, I spent the whole day researching and contacting bed and breakfasts in Baltimore, that could be used as a prize for the auction. As weird as it may sound, I really like emailing different venues and reaching out to volunteers, so that’s been my favorite part so far. The Make-A-Wish’s Evening of Wishes is coming up next month so my supervisors have been giving me a lot of work and freedom, which has been great.

Besides work, I’ve been trying to see as much of DC as possible. I went to the National Museum of American History, African American History Museum and the gallery in Katzen. I really liked the African American History Museum because it was organized like a timeline, so it was easy for me to follow. Also the architecture of the building itself was stunning (see picture). I didn’t really like the National Museum of American History very much because I actually remember going there in 7th grade and seeing the classic ruby red slippers and Star Spangled Banner. However, I liked seeing the first lady’s dresses and wish there could have been more dresses on display. The gallery in Katzen was a good way to spend a rainy day, especially since you don’t have to take the metro to get there.

Last week I also went to the gala at the Italian embassy which was a unique experience. The desserts were good and it was fun to dance, but I don’t think it was worth all the money. That being said, I’m glad I went.

The academic side of this course has also been going well. In my international relations class, we have been having a lot of good discussions and are wrapping our unit on Climate Change. We had our last guest speaker on Thursday and I’m presenting about Typhoons in the Philippines next week.

Overall, I have really loved my first month in DC and I can’t believe how fast the time has gone. It’s so freeing to be able to hop on the subway and go wherever you want, whenever you want. It’s also a big enough city where you can be happy going to places by yourself or with friends. Not to mention, there is always a new restaurant, store or street that you’ve never seen, which makes going around exciting. One of my friends from home is coming in a couple of weeks, so it’s been an incentive for me to see all the sights so I can show her around.

This weekend I’m hoping to go to thrifting in Alexandria and to the Hirshhorn Museum. See you guys next time!

Portrait of First Lady Michelle ObamaVivian Ehrenreich

February 13, 2019 | Hi! My name is Vivian Ehrenreich and I’m doing the AU gap program this semester. I’m originally from Georgia, so Washington DC definitely took some getting used to, especially coming in the middle of the winter. The program started kind of slow because I didn’t come to DC with an internship and the government was shut down.

Even though the Smithsonian was closed, my friends and I were able to do a lot that was close to AU. Georgetown is probably one of my favorite places in DC so far because it has all my favorite stores (Brandy Melville!), and it makes shopping fun since all the stores are in cute brick buildings. Not to mention Georgetown has Falafel Inc. which is delicious and cheap—a falafel sandwich with hummus is $5. Also I went to Chinatown which is only a couple of stops on the metro. Unfortunately, it was exceptionally cold that day so we didn’t explore, but I did eat this delicious vegetarian ramen for dinner.

Luckily, I got an internship well before the deadline at the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and it started a week after most of my peers so I had a couple of days to explore the city on my own. The government reopened so I went to the National Portrait Gallery which I highly recommend, especially the 3rd floor’s sculpture and modern art section. The next day, I walked around the National Mall which was great because it was sunny and I was sightseeing while listening to my favorite true crime podcast. I was also able to volunteer at the DC Central Kitchen twice before starting my internship. Doing it with friends was fun, but even coming by myself was fun because then I mingled with people from completely different backgrounds. Also the last time I went I got warm freshly baked cornbread; just another reason to volunteer!

Finally, I started my internship at Make-A-Wish last week. It started off a little slow because of the mandatory orientation videos. However, I love the environment because most of the people who work there are young and there are a lot of interns. Typically, in the mornings, I get an email detailing the project to do for the day. I like that system because then I get freedom to do it at my own pace without an overwhelming amount of supervision, and if I finish early I can find possible donors. I’m excited to get more demanding projects in the future and I’ll update you all soon!