Building Bridges: Joseph Paolino ‘17.5 Reflects on Brown in Washington Program

May 11, 2018

In an effort to share student experiences in Washington with students on campus, Fall 2017 Brown in Washington fellows were asked to take a photo and write a caption that helps describe a memorable part of their learning experience while working with the D.C. community during their semester away. 

Joseph Paolino ‘17.5, a Public Policy concentrator, spent his semester interning at the Democratic National Committee. He reflected here on one of his many experiences in Washington, D.C.

"I was introduced to Bill Conway last spring during commencement weekend. Bill is running for at-large county council-member in Montgomery County, Md. I began volunteering for him on nights and weekends in early September and got to know the candidate, his family, other volunteers and voters in the community. 

This experience has been so unique in that, even as a volunteer, I am one of five members of the campaign staff. This picture captures a candidate forum that kicked off the campaign and allowed each candidate to present their ideas and visions for Montgomery County to constituents. 

Bill Conway impressed me from the moment I met him because of his experience working on Capitol Hill and his genuine care for this community. He always makes an effort to be inclusive and welcoming and he listens to different perspectives. Bill cares about issues that affect working families such as creating higher paying jobs and ensuring access to affordable housing. The County also faces problems with the transportation system, school overcrowding and the achievement gap, the tension between neighborhoods and development, protection of the environment and public safety. Bill himself is also an avid beekeeper, cultivating his bees on his family farm and he promotes safe and natural preservation of this population.

As a campaign staff member / volunteer, I stuff envelopes, attend events, make phone calls and canvas neighborhoods throughout the County. Through this work, I am able to listen to community members, connect with them and build relationships as well. It can be easy to be cynical about politics when you don’t agree with the current administration’s policies at the federal level. But, it is also easy to engage with communities, build bridges with neighbors and find ways to make a difference at a local level. I’m lucky that I have the chance to do this during my semester in Washington, D.C."