By Lola Jamin ’20
The recent government shutdown, the longest in US History, affected government workers, national parks, airports, government health care, security, and food services across America. It also coincided perfectly with Immaculate Heart’s Close Up trip. However, according to attendees, the shutdown did not spoil their Close Up experience.
A group of IH students, joined by college counselor April Salazar and social studies teacher Michael Letton, flew to Washington D.C in January to learn about American history and government. They soon realized that one of the largest implications of the government shutdown on their trip was the closing of all Smithsonian museums. Considered among D.C’s greatest attractions, a visit to the Smithsonian museums would have been a highlight of the Close Up trip, but instead their doors were closed to the public as a result of President Donald Trump’s clash with congressional Democrats.
However, that did not make the IH trip less meaningful, said Mr. Letton. “We were still able to find other very important government institutions and people to talk to,” he said.
Instead of allowing the government shutdown to be a hindrance to their trip, Mr. Letton said the shutdown actually enhanced the Close Up experience. “It made Capitol Hill that much more fascinating because we were able to witness a very serious vote on the shutdown which included every single representative on the House of Representatives,” he said. “You don’t always get that.”
This reaction was also shared by other Close Up participants. Asked if the government shutdown had ruined her trip, junior Piper Anthony shook her head, then smiled and said, “It was one of the best experience of my life.”
The government shutdown devastated many Americans on a local and national level. Some workers have yet to receive paychecks, and it will reportedly take years to restore some national parks. But thankfully, it did not have as much of an impact on the IH trip. If anything, it only proved the inspiring willingness of both Immaculate Heart peers and faculty to make the most out of their situation. They effectively turned what could have been a major inconvenience into a learning experience. Despite the shutdown, Close Up proved a great success.