By Hank Wu
Prior to coming to Washington D.C., I had no idea what to expect. Frankly, the entire concept of the ILF Civic Fellowship was a bit intimidating. I feared that I would be younger, less experienced, and maybe even less intelligent than many of the other fellows. Perhaps all of these fears were legitimate but I was able to move past them during the initial orientation dinner. That night, I sat next to Tom Feng and Sean Gu. It was a truly interesting night. We talked about this amazing technology called blockchain and its use cases beyond how it is traditional used in cryptocurrencies. They were definitely new to the concept but they had a real hunger to learn more. Well after our conversations concluded, they would message me with questions and very salient observations. It might not seem like much but this experience is truly emblematic of the type of environment the ILF Civic Fellowship creates; the fellows are driven, not by money or vanity, but by genuine interest and passion. And while the greatest asset ILF has is this collection of young, driven Asian Americans, the greatest value it provides is helping these individuals meaningfully develop and progress as future leaders. At events like the ILF Entrepreneurship workshop, we are given exposure to unique experiences from industry professionals to pair with our ambitions. Even the internship directors strive to provide the fellows with worthwhile summer experiences. On my first day at the U.S. Treasury, my supervisor sat me down and talked to me about my goals for the future. Afterward, she helped me pick an internship project that matters to me and arranged for me to present my work to my peers in the department. I simply do not believe that I would have been given this opportunity had it not been for ILF’s guiding hand.
As I reflect upon this summer, the only real advice I would give to my past self or future ILF Civic Fellows is to occasionally step back and take everything in. Absorb this experience and enjoy it for as long as you can because, like everything good in life, your ILF experience is fleeting.
In closing, I would like to thank the two people that introduced me to this program: Cherry Huang and Gang Dongjun. Of course, I would also like to thank my parents for supporting my decision to come to D.C. this summer and for paying the incredibly high D.C. housing costs for me. Thank you.