Hi from Washington, DC! I have been in the district for a few months now and have learned and experienced so much in such a small amount of time. Being in the city has been a very different experience for me from taking public transit to work and class, to the number of events occurring every day. This is even more overwhelming when trying to take advantage of one of my favorite things about the city, all of these events are free and open! From attending briefings in Senate, to hearing from world-renowned experts on a panel, to celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month in the Argentinian Embassy to hearing the National Orchestra perform.
These events are amazing and coupled with my courses have given me a well-rounded picture of the city. While here my classes focus on being academically rigorous while also being engaging and utilizing our surroundings as a supplement to the classroom. I am in two of these immersive courses, International Peace and Conflict Studies & U.S. Policy and Politics, and two regular electives, an internship course & Spanish: U.S./ Mexico Border. Each of my classes is interesting and has given me a new perspective on things I learned at Rollins.
In each course we do a lot of our learning outside of the classroom going on site visits across the city and bringing in experts on issues we are studying. Our ‘site visits’ for courses so far have included the Foreign Affairs Committee in Congress, multiple political thinktanks, the Newseum, the Turkish Embassy, the Pentagon, and the State Department. These visits give us the opportunity to hear from and ask questions to some of the scholars and decision makers in the Capitol.
In my U.S. Policy & Politics course we have been focusing on the current reform efforts in Congress, as well as different issues areas. Our weeks studying the need for reform were interesting, but spending the next class hearing directly from committee members many of the dysfunctions we had previously studied in both a positive and negative light was fascinating. Similarly, in my International Peace and Conflict course, we spent a week discussing issues in Turkey only to see direct escalation in the conflict between Turkish forces and the Kurds in Northern Syria escalate the following week. Then, the day after President Trump tweeted that he would destroy the Turkish economy over these issues, my class visited the Turkish Embassy and we were able to inquire their opinions on the subject and well as gather a sense of the Turkish Government’s position on these issues.
The Washington Semester Program has been an amazing experience so far and I am excited to continue learning and growing throughout the remainder of my semester here. Stay tuned for more updates!