It was fairly chilly the afternoon that we arrived in Washington, D.C., but after getting settled into the place we would be staying for the week, we were all excited to get our exploration started. The first stop was at NBC Studios where we were allowed on the set of Meet the Press. While we explored the set, we were introduced to Mark Murray, the senior political editor for NBC News, who talked to us about the role of news in the 2016 presidential election. As someone who, besides being interested in politics, is interested in journalism, this experience was a really cool opportunity to see how these two interests can intertwine.
The next morning was an early one as we wanted to be line for a chance at hearing oral arguments at the Supreme Court. The line we stood in was uncomfortable—it was cold and there were small children—but we got the chance to get into the courtroom for three minutes. Despite the fact that the line was a slightly miserable experience, the three minutes that we got to spend in the courtroom was well worth it. Even for the short time that we got to spend there, being inside the courtroom with the justices was an awesome experience. Also, when I was checking out in the line at the cafeteria in the building, the cashier asked me if I was “with the court,” which made me feel good about my ability to dress like a professional. The next stop on that day was to the Pew Research Center where we talked to Caroll Doherty about the kind of work that is done at Pew. Mr. Doherty showed us examples of the kind of research that Pew does and answered any questions that we had about the work. He also answered a lot of questions we had about the 2016 presidential election, a topic that we discussed with almost every person we met. From Pew, we walked to the White House where we viewed the exterior from behind a fence and a barricade—the White House is cool, but also slightly boring. That night we got the chance to tour the monuments at night—they are an awesome sight during the day, but at night they are incredibly beautiful. As we walked, it was hard not to be in awe of the grandeur of each monument. Visually, my favorite monument is the Korean War Memorial as it is haunting and beautiful, but, emotionally, my favorite monument is the Vietnam War Memorial. There’s something incredibly impactful about seeing the sheer amount of names on the wall and then coming to the realization that every name on that wall was a real person with a real life and a real story.
Our next day started with a visit with a member of Marco Rubio’s staff. She explained her role in the office and also the foreign policy goals that Rubio still has. After the interesting discussion, we were allowed to ride a tram that Senators use to move from their offices to the Capitol. Once we arrived at the Capitol we were given a tour and then we were allowed to view the floor of the House of Representatives. The next stop that day was to the Library of Congress, where we were given a tour of the building. There we viewed many of the buildings architectural elements and also the library of Thomas Jefferson.
This day started with a meeting at the CATO Institute with Dan Pearson. Mr. Pearson talked to us about what CATO is and what they do. This was a really interesting experience for me because I was much more interested in the topics we discussed here than I thought I would be. After this, we visited the Urban Institute where we discussed journalism and the presidential election with, journalists, Howard Gleckman and Susan Milligan. The part of the discussion that I found most interesting here was a discussion about the decline of reporting on policy in journalism. After a little bit of sightseeing, we ended the night at the Pulitzer Center where we watched a few short films as a part of an environmental film festival.
Our morning started with a visit to the Pulitzer Center where a program that they would like to start at Flagler was discussed. The next stop was at the Education Advisory Board where we discussed the work they do, specifically the work they do with Flagler College. This was a really cool experience because the people that we met were all fairly young and from different backgrounds, but they all seemed to enjoy their job. As someone who is constantly plagued with the questions about whether or not she is on the right path, it was really comforting to see that people with such different backgrounds could all end up at the same job and be happy about what they were doing. That night we were able to enjoy a show put on by the Capitol Steps, a comedy troupe in D.C. who specializes in political comedy. The show was funny and really enjoyable.
Before we left this day, we managed to squeeze in a little more sightseeing. A group of us woke up early to visit the National Air and Space Museum where we saw many artifacts from our nation’s air and space history. We followed up this visit with a short visit to the Newsuem, one of my favorite places in D.C.
My favorite part of this trip was not really a specific moment, but kind of an overall feeling. I often feel very uneasy about the decisions that I make surrounding my education and my future career, but this trip really affirmed for me that this is a path I am happy to be on. The moment that was most surprising for me was how interested I was in everything we did, even the things that I didn’t believe I was going to be. I would definitely recommend this trip to other people, It provides with a lot of chances for new experiences and new connections, and if you’re lucky it can provide you with a chance to meet an new, interesting group of people.2016, Washington D.C.