Spring Break in Washington, D.C was incredibly eventful and full of surprises. When we arrived, the air was chilly and the group was anxious to get settled in and start exploring the nation’s capital. Once we were settled into our air B&B, we headed to NBC studios to speak with Mark Murray about the current presidential election and explore the set of Meet the Press. It was truly thrilling to be able to stand in the building where the historical televised debate between Nixon and JFK took place. Our first outing was memorable and kicked off an exciting week!
On Tuesday, we woke up bright and early to jump in line to possibly sit in on oral arguments at the Supreme Court. The two hour wait consisted of antsy children trying to cut in line, a dedicated protestor, freezing limbs, sassy police officers and several confusing line splits, but the wait was well worth it. Our group was able to get into the courtroom for a short three minutes, but it was incredible. We were able to see all of the justices including Chief Justice Roberts. I listened intently as some of the justices spoke about the case at hand and gained a new perspective as to how the Supreme Court operated. This was definitely the best part of the trip for me! To me, the Supreme Court justices are almost like celebrities and to be able to see them during oral arguments was unlike anything I have ever experienced. The courtroom was magnificent and in the three minutes I was able to sit in the room, I was able to learn more about the processes that take place than before. Being present for oral arguments in the Supreme Court is an experience I will never forget and I will always treasure. We also visited the Pew Research Group Tuesday afternoon and spoke with Caroll Doherty. Mr.Doherty showed our group some data from different research studies Pew has done and also answered any questions we had about the current presidential election based on the polling data they possessed. It was interesting to hear Mr.Doherty’s opinions on the current election and compare Mr.Doherty’s analysis based on data to Mr.Murray’s analysis based on the media coverage and research he is involved in. We were also able to tour the monuments at night on the 22nd, and all of which were incredible. I stood in awe as I gazed up at the Lincoln Memorial, this was definitely my favorite monument that I saw that night. A close second was the Vietnam War memorial, which admittedly made me quite emotional. On Tuesday, I was also able to finally see The White House (AKA my future home) after missing it almost every time we drove by it! The White House Welcome Center Museum was such a fun experience and I am very lucky I was finally able to see where so many leaders have lived! Overall, Tuesday was an extremely busy day and my feet almost fell off, but it was definitely the most memorable day for me of the entire trip.
Wednesday was a fun- fulfilled day full of valuable information and a fair amount of sightseeing. In the morning we spoke with a member of Marco Rubio’s staff to discuss the current Syrian refugee crisis. This was a very informative discussion, but I really enjoyed being able to see some of the Senate offices and their methods of transportation to and from the Capitol Building back to their offices. We were able to ride the train that Senators ride in order to get to work from their offices and that was something I did not know about! We were able to tour the Capitol building and see the floor of the House of Representatives! This was a truly amazing tour even with all of the construction that was being done to the building. That afternoon, we were able to tour the Library of Congress. This tour was truly unique. In my opinion, the inside of the Library of Congress was the most beautiful interior out of any other building we toured in D.C..
Thursday was a fantastic day where we met with several intelligent individuals to discuss various political topics. In the morning we met with Dan Pearson at the CATO institute and a few of his international interns. It was interesting to speak with the interns that were around the same age as myself and understand how they obtained their internships and learn more about their backgrounds. It was nice to discuss some of these political topics with people similar in age to me, it made the content more relatable. That afternoon we met with Howard Gleckman and Susan Milligan at the Urban Institute. Both of these individuals are Washington reporters and discussed their opinions on the current presidential race. Ms.Milligan offered the group a lot of information on Hillary Clinton and her campaign and predicted Clinton to be the next president of the United States. Mr. Gleckman offered the group less political information, but a lot of fascinating research that he had access to and had reported on. After this, a group of us went to the natural history museum and saw the Hope Diamond, which was gorgeous. We then quickly rushed to the Pulitzer Center to enjoy an environmental film festival. After the films were shown the directors of the films were brought on stage to answer questions about their films as well as other environmental issues.
On Friday, we met with several individuals from the Pulitzer Center to discuss a student program they run and want to get started at Flagler College. In the afternoon, we had the pleasure of meeting with the members of the Education Advisory Board. This meeting was the most beneficial meeting of the trip for my personal professional future due to the different employee’s tips and advice for soon- to- be graduating college students. The individuals we met with were more than happy to provide us with their personal career path stories and encouragement for our future careers. Not only did this meeting help ease my mind about the uncertainty of my future, but I also learned a lot about the services that the EAB assists schools with. We were able to see data about Flagler College, which demonstrated the capabilities and technology the EAB possesses. This was definitely an incredible learning experience and a great opportunity to explore my personal career options. After this, we were able to go to the Newsuem for a short time before they closed, but this extremely large museum offered two day passes in order for individuals to be able to explore the entirety of the museum, so most of my exploration of the Newsuem took place the following day. Friday night we all had a very nice dinner and giggled to the comedic stylings of the Capitol Steps comedy group. This event was the most fun event of the trip, because we were able to enjoy some political satire after a week of serious political discussions. The jokes were all tasteful and timely, this was honestly an unforgettable experience! On Saturday, we explored the Newsuem exhibits and reluctantly made our way back to the airport to return to Flagler College.
I was truly surprised by the amount of patriotism I felt while I was in our nation’s capital; there were constant reminders everywhere of those that fought and died for our freedom. I felt an overwhelming sense of pride for our nation when I viewed the monuments and explored the museums in Washington. This was an interesting emotion to experience since I am well aware of the horrible atrocities our nation has committed in history. I almost felt guilty for the pride I felt in our government and in our nation as I was surrounded by a massive homeless population right next to historical sites. I was extremely impressed by all of the buildings and the government events I witnessed and it seemed like everywhere we went in D.C. I felt a strong sense of pride in my country. Overall, being in Washington helped me to feel more connected with our government and the processes that take place in our nation’s capital, which in turn made me feel extremely patriotic and proud to be an American.
I think that students should experience a study away trip in D.C. in order to learn more about the way our government functions and make numerous vital connections if they are interested in politics. This trip allowed me to have fun while learning and meet intelligent people that offered a ton of insight on different possible careers in Washington. I think that if a student has any interest in politics at all they should take this trip to discover more about their passions and the way that different careers in Washington truly function on a day to day basis.
This trip was such a blast and I learned so much about the political world and myself! I am content with my decision to take this trip during my spring break in order to learn more about our nation’s capital. I made memories in D.C. that I will truly cherish.
Savannah SizerThis entry was posted in 2016, Washington D.C.