By: Kiley Roach
I’ve taken a number of classes with our faculty advisor prior to signing up for this travel seminar. Never in my life have I heard a person speak so highly of a class. She and the other faculty advisor that accompany us this week have made some bold claims, lofty promises, and set the bar for our expectations rather high. “This is different,” they say. “Your experience here, as Drake students, will be unparalleled. It will be rigorous, exhausting, but most of all, rewarding.” I’m paraphrasing, of course, but I think I nailed the substance of their pep-talks.
I’m incredibly excited to see how this course unfolds amid a government shutdown. If my math is right, portions of the government have now been shut down for fifteen days. For fifteen days, federal workers have gone unpaid or have been furloughed, questioning when they might get their next paycheck. For fifteen days, each and every Smithsonian museum has been closed, included the highly anticipated Museum of African American History and Culture. For fifteen days, White House tours have been cancelled, historically significant records have been under lock and key at the National Archives. Park rangers haven’t been paid, and reports have streamed in that national parks around the country have been littered and vandalized. Unfortunately, according to the President’s recent press conference in the White House Rose Garden, there is no foreseeable end to the gridlock causing the shutdown. And on a much smaller but more personal scale, for the average D.C. tourist, a shutdown means the end to your vacation.
But, as we have been assured, we are not average tourists. We have the unique opportunity to be educated as insiders. We get to go behind the scenes, behind the red velvet rope. For two weeks, we have the capacity to pull the curtain back and see the inner-workings of America’s political machine. The shutdown has certainly put a damper on some of the more typical D.C. experiences that I was looking forward to (for instance, seeing the animals at the National Zoo). It has not, however, diminished my excitement.
I’m not quite sure yet which part of this trip I am most eagerly anticipating. It is certainly not all of the walking. I know that it will be a long, tough two weeks filled with a massive influx of information. To be honest, the academic sessions hosted at the Washington Center have been on the forefront of my mind. As someone who longs to be a part of academia eventually, I am thrilled to hear from academic voices and scholars in my field. I am eager to be exposed to issues that have yet to cross my path in my undergraduate career. Being the self-proclaimed nerd that I am, it is no surprise that I am eager to learn and to be challenged.