After leaving Wheaton, I got to spend a week and a half at home in Memphis with my family and friends. It was a sweet time of resting, seeing people, and trying to somehow prepare for the next 7 months. I left feeling encouraged and excited.
I left Memphis early (SO EARLY) on Monday, May 27th. I got into DC midmorning and had some time to explore before the program began that night. HIA and the Council on Foreign Relations (who I think cosponsored the DC leg of the trip) put us up in a really nice hotel in Georgetown. It was just a quick walk to the National Mall. I got to see the White House, the Washington Monument, the National World War II Memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial. I’d never been before and, because I was by myself, I was able to move around pretty quickly and explore pretty easily. So cool! Here are a few shots I got.
I enjoyed DC so much. I was able to see some good friends from Wheaton a few times – such a blessing! It’s also just a really, really cool city. We got metro passes and HIA/CFR paid for taxis, so we were able to move around really easily.
As far as the actual program was concerned, DC was a blast! The first day we had a series of sessions led by the Council on Foreign Relations. They were all about European politics, economics, and society. They were meant to be an introduction to Europe and they proved to be very interesting. We even had a really great, helpful lecture on careers in foreign policy. It was 6 hours of lectures and it wasn’t dull once! I was also very impressed with my fellow fellows; everyone was engaged and interested. When it was time for questions, there was never a lull before questions were asked and there was never enough time for all of the questions! So refreshing! That whole day at the CFR was very nice. We had a fancy networking reception that evening where I got to practice my fancy networking skills.
The next day we spent the day at the National Holocaust Memorial Museum. Wednesday we had access to a special exhibit on bystanders and Thursday we got to go through the permanent exhibit. The museum itself is beautiful. The permanent exhibit is very narrative driven and engaging. I learned a lot from the museum itself and perhaps even more from our group discussions afterwards. We spent hours talking about the nature of violence and the thin lines between victim, perpetrator, and bystander. We also had the opportunity to hear from an investigative journalist from Jackson, Mississippi. He investigates cold cases from the Civil Rights Movement and has aided in the arrest of 11 murderers from the period. I especially enjoyed his session and was able to connect with him afterwards.
The best part of DC was getting to know the other fellows. They’re such a great, diverse group coming from all over the place. And we’ve been able to move really easily in and out of serious, important conversations and just having a really fun time. I got to know a few fellows going to other cities and I can’t wait to see them again at the end of the month for HIA’s International Conference.
There’s so much to say. To sum it up, DC was very fun, very interesting, and a really great start to what hopes to be an amazing five weeks.