Sunday, January 18, 2009

Who needs exercise when you have mile-long escalators to run up?

No, but seriously. I brought tennis shoes and workout clothes, but I have not even thought about using them once. With all the walking we are doing, there is no need for excess exercise. We finished out our week of morning speakers. Most of them I found really interesting. For example Marc Pachter, the Director Emeritus of the National Portrait Gallery, was one of the speakers whom I paid close attention to. He went through a powerpoint of past presidents and their portraits, and then he explained little known facts about each of them. Some of classmates did not find him near as intriguing as I did. Two other speakers that I really liked were Cal Thomas who is a conservative and Bob Beckel who is a liberal. They write a column called "Common Ground" in which they try to find points of agreement in areas that are usually debated between conservatives and liberals. At first it was their personalities made me want to pay attention, but then I started to understand what they were speaking about and it was all the better. Another speaker whom I was impressed with was Dana Perino, Bush's press secretary. She came and answered questions for us during one of the two days that C-Span came to film some lives shows from UDC's auditorium. It was interesting to see her point of view on Bush compared with what is written about him by other media sources. We were also graced with presence of both Sam Donaldson and Ted Koppel, respected names in media that I have heard many times before. Their speeches were not as attention grabbing as I would have hoped, but the fact that they were there was enough for me. All in all the speakers were diverse and engaging. I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to hear them and learn from them. I am not just saying this to be corny and cliche; I really am coming away with more than I came in with, and that is what I came to D.C. to do.
While our mornings were filled speakers, our afternoons were filled with site visits. Most of the sites were entertaining. I could have done without the Chinese embassy. On the other hand, the Canadian embassy and it's representative, Roy Norton, was fairly informative. I never realized Canada was so impressive. Another site I could have done without was the media watchdog group, Accuracy in Media. Even though this visit produced the most debate within our group, I found the speaker to be pretty hypcritical in the end. The Capitol tour was kind of underwhelming, but that is because we had a really great tour back during my senior year trip. On one of our days off, Autumn and I went to the National Gallery of Art. Personally, I love museums. The exhibits were so beautiful. I'm a sucker for French painters...Monet and Van Gough. Yesterday we went on my favorite visit yet, the Newseum (a museum about the news, clever right?) I found the museum absolutely fascinating. They have acquired so many pieces of history! For example, there was a piece of the Berlin wall as well as one of the death towers. There was the door from the Watergate break in and the most emotional piece, a scrap of metal from one of the Twin Towers. Watching the documentary the Newseum put together as well as seeing the front pages from around the world brought back so many emotions from that fateful day. This museum in particular was the highlight of the trip thus far. It kind of tied together everything we have learned thus far. As Tuesday draws near, the excitement is building and the city is filling up...I can't wait!!
OH YEAH! I forgot to mention that we saw the motorcade belonging to President-elect Barack Obama and Joe Biden!! They were on the way to the Supreme Court Building. The streets were all blocked off, and then the cops on motorcycles started coming followed by about ten black SUV's. One of the SUV's was filled with very heavily armed secret servicemen...totally badass!! That might have rivaled the Newseum on being the most thrilling site of the week :)

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