Tonight, the NatGeo education team had a staff party. While conversing among the other employees and their families, it occurred to me that I’ve noticed many differences between DC and the midwest/west part of the country – and talking with other people confirmed what I’ve been thinking.
-People in the midwest/west are definitely friendlier as a whole. One gentleman was telling me a story about how in Rhode Island, where he lived for 5 years, people were closed off from each other and did not allow people into their social circles. Another woman was telling me that she use to live in New York for many years and people either love it or hate it. So when people love it they stick around forever and yet again, people do not let new people into their old social circles. My own personal experience has been very much the same – people do not chit-chat on the train, they do not smile at each other, and people drive like they are stunt-drivers aka insane! A few weeks back I was pushed on the train and sprained my foot because a guy was in a hurry to get wherever he needed to go. Granted, these are generalities – but when I lived in Iowa, people waved and smile while driving down the road. Living in Colorado, i’ve had similar experiences – people are nice. I’ve had a few pleasant conversations on this side of the country, but generally, people have a cold exterior.
-Along the same lines, some people are meant for the city, and there are people definitely not meant for the city. On the metro the other day, a woman complained so loudly that she hated the crowded rail system and she was pissed when people pushed her out of the way to get through the door when she didn’t move out of their way. It amazes me how many people lack awareness of other people. Maybe it’s a trait people are born with, but i’m willing to bet that it is skill parents didn’t teach their children was essential to being a human. That’s right, I used the word “essential.” People need to be aware of others and treat each other with more respect and kindness. Granted this woman’s outburst (to no one in particular) was uncalled for, but her underlying message was that people need to be more conscientious of one another.
-Never, ever underestimate people! People are shocking – in both good and bad ways – but you will never know or learn those things if you do not give people a chance. I think it’s ironic that the type of things you learn about people is the small town things you would never expect – like meeting someone who’s brother was in Thailand at the same time I was or knowing someone who grew up just 30 minutes from my house in Iowa, or realizing that the six degrees of separation is surprisingly easy to find.
-The weather is bizarre, no matter where you are in the country. In Iowa, we had a saying that read, “If you don’t like the weather, give it a few days.” In Colorado, the saying went, “If you don’t like the weather, give it a few hours.” In DC, it doesn’t matter what the weather is, it sucks all the time anyways. It’s muggy and rainy all the time (I wish I was over exaggerating). Apparently, someone had the genius idea that we should place the nation’s capitol in a swamp…
-When you find something you love, it clicks. I absolutely love what i’m doing at NatGeo - so much so, that i’m considering changing what I want to be when I grow up and become a “real” adult. There’s many inspirational stories that do just that – they inspire me – to do more, to see more, to help more, to “be a hummingbird.” Wangari Maathai’s video of the hummingbird is so powerful it made me well with tears and then I realized that I want to permanently be a hummingbird to those that can’t help themselves.
So to wrap it up, i’ve learned alot in my short time in DC. I’m thankful i’m a geography major though. I’ve learned so much because I have this beautiful lens that allows me to look at things with more perspective and understanding - I feel like. But it’s more than that, geography allows me to feel connected to the world and to others, and that’s why people need geography in their lives.
Staff party + sangria + geography = one hell of a good time!