By Sarah Jett ’15
Facing extreme weather conditions, like subzero temperatures and a snowstorm, a group of brave Immaculate Heart juniors, including this reporter, journeyed to Washington, D.C., on January 18-24. They experienced Close Up, a week-long program where students from all over the country travel to our nation’s capital for an educational experience.
Washington, D.C., was across the board an incredible experience! History really came alive there. Before the official Close Up program started, the students visited George Washington’s house, Mt. Vernon. It is very grand and luxurious, and there were still farm animals surrounding it! Mt. Vernon was extra special because we had an authentic colonial lunch and talked with an impersonator of George Washington’s physician.
We also toured Ford’s Theater where Lincoln was assassinated; I found it very strange that to this day it is still a functioning theater. We toured the Capitol with a very funny and knowledgeable tour guide and also visited the Library of Congress. We got to sit in and witness how the Supreme Court really worked. We even got to meet with people that worked for California Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein. We got to tell them our concerns about specific issues regarding the citizens of California. Throughout the entire week I became skilled at navigating through the cold using the subway. On the official Close Up Program, we visited many monuments, everything from the Jefferson Memorial to the World War II Memorial to the Lincoln Memorial.
It began to snow on our second day, so we witnessed all of the monuments in the snow. We also explored three of the 19 Smithsonian museums. I had always wanted to go to any of the Smithsonians and when I found out we were going to three of them, I was very happy and excited. Seeing the evolution of flight through the variety of large aircrafts of the past and present at The Air and Space Museum fascinated me. We also went to the American History Museum, which was very interesting. I saw a collection of dresses worn by first ladies and the original Kermit the Frog puppet. The last Smithsonian Museum we explored was the National Portrait Gallery where I saw a lot of iconic American Portraits including a portrait of Benjamin Franklin and Pocahontas. We visited Arlington cemetery and witnessed the changing of the Guard and saw the eternal flame on JFK’s grave.
In addition to visiting these wonderful and monumental places, we met and participated in debates and workshops with other students from around the U.S. We went to seminars on current issues like Non-Violence, Gun Control, and Health Care. We got to interact with many people who possessed different views from our own. During the week we learned how we, even as minors, can make a difference in our government. We had a blast and hopefully made life-long friends while learning and voicing our opinions at the same time. I highly recommend this trip for all the juniors to come!