By Gavin Nordberg
The morning started off a little different than normal on Thursday. RPC and JVW had informed us the night before, Wednesday night, that we, as a group, would be meeting at about 8:30 the following morning. The meeting progresses as any of our meetings would on this trip, we talked a little bit about what he have noticed and what we expected for the coming day. However, when they gave us the rundown of what we would be doing Thursday they mentioned that we might have a third site visit lined up, but it was not confirmed yet. So, after morning session, and the speakers, we left around noon and made our way to our first site visit, the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
Each site visit today was overwhelming for each person in our group in some way. The Eisenhower building is directly across the street from the West Wing, so we had to go through White House security inorder to get access to the building. Once inside, we followed our gracious alum around the EEOB like children admiring everything inside the office building. This is a building that RPC calls “the most beautiful building in Washington.” She isn’t wrong. Aside from how it looked visually, it gave me chills knowing who has walked the halls of the building. After wondering for a bit we sat down with our alum contact and got to talk with him a little about what it is he does in the EEOB and how he got to where he is. We eventually had to leave this site visit and move on to the next one. The next site visit, in my own mind, would not live up to the sites and history of the Eisenhower building. Boy was I wrong.
Our next stop was at CBS with another alum, Katie Ross Dominick, who was just as gracious as our alum at the White House. At CBS we got to walk around the building a little bit and visit the set of Face the Nation, which was pretty cool. After walking around we then had the opportunity to sit down with legendary reporter Bob Schieffer. The conversation that followed was one of the best conversations I have ever been apart of. It was so intriguing and so important for our time, it really gave me a perspective of how the world of reporting and the news operated. We listened to Schieffer tell stories of presidential caucuses and we heard which caucuses were his favorite to cover. He told us about the different presidents he had the opportunity to cover while working in the White House press corps. He even gave us insight into how past White Houses have operated and how he see this White House operating. There are many many more topics that we has a group got to hear about. This conversation was so deep and rich in knowledge, I never wanted to leave.
However, during this conversation Bob Schieffer started telling a story about his time at a local paper while he was still young and living in Texas. While working for this paper, he had the opportunity to go to Vietnam and cover what was happening on the ground some eight thousand miles away. I will not get into the specifics of this story because it is his own story, and I know that I would not be able to do it justice. Nevertheless, he told an amazing story about how a young journalist found his calling and place in a business that can be so fast paced at times. During this trip to Vietnam he found a calling and a reason to do the work that he was doing. He shared with us true passion for a job and I know now to never stop looking for the one thing that makes me as proud or as dedicated as Bob Schieffer was in doing the job in Vietnam. Listening to this story, you were able to tell it really was emotional for him. It was emotional for everyone in the room as well. I teared up but held it together until I reached the streets, and then lost it. The story was so beautiful because I have never seen someone so passionate and so profoundly caring in an act as I assume Bob Schieffer was in doing the small and simple act he had been doing in Vietnam. After leaving CBS News it took me a while to process what Bob had told us, but I don’t think I will ever process or fully take in what he taught us today. Caring, even a little bit, about the smallest of things, and the smallest of people, can bring you to places you never could have imagined.
After this meeting, we moved onto our third and final site visit of the day, a meeting with Senator Bernie Sanders. Most of us freaked out during after RPC and JVW told us what we were about to do. However, there was a catch. We left the meeting with Bob at 4, and our meeting with Bernie was at 4:30. We happened to be on the complete opposite side of DC at the time, so we had to try and rush across all of DC during rush hour traffic. We ended up having to call Ubers because the metro wasn’t fast enough. Eventually we all got there and were able to meet with the Senator. We had a riveting conversation about all things politics. Sanders challenged us to think in ways that were outside the limits of our imagination. All of us were able to start to do this with issues that we thought we were fairly well versed in. However, Sanders quickly proved us wrong.
I know that RPC and JVW told us not to recap our days, like I have just done, but Thursday may well have been one of the most exciting days I have experienced so far in life. It was a day filled with unimaginable encounters and visits. Our two professors gave me something I will carry with me the rest of my life.