It’s hard to believe that the first week of my Summer Discovery experience is already over. This past week has been filled with sightseeing, meeting new people, and exciting activities. On the day of my arrival, many students enrolled in the program -- including myself -- took a tour of the Georgetown campus and traveled down to M Street, the shopping and dining hotspot, located right off campus. I was introduced to my roommate and my floor, along with my RC Quinn, and we wrapped up the night, excited for the classes and full program to begin the next day.
Something unique about the Georgetown Summer Discovery program is the great diversity of students – by the end of the first day, I had met students from over ten different countries, all speaking various languages, which was a really interesting experience for me!
On Monday, classes began and I was introduced to my professors. I am currently enrolled in U.S. Government and Introduction to International Relations and Foreign Policy, which both have given me an opportunity to learn a great deal about domestic and global politics. Both of my professors are going to be teaching at George Washington University and Georgetown University, respectively, in the fall, which has made the instruction a true college experience.
After class, students from all over the program gathered on the patio to travel either to Madame Tussauds Wax Museum or to the Washington Monument. I went with a couple of new friends to the Washington Monument, and we were also able to walk to the White House. Outside of the White House there was a peaceful protest regarding terrorist forces against the United States, which was really interesting to see. Even though many students learn in school about the First Amendment’s guarantee of the right to assemble, I had never seen the freedom applied in real life, which added to the experience of seeing the White House.
Moving on to Tuesday, or more specifically, the 4th of July. Being able to be in the heart of Washington D.C. during Independence Day was amazing! I stocked up on snacks and dorm room essentials at the Target run, and then my parents took me out to dinner and fireworks at the Washington Monument before they departed for my home city of Boca Raton, Florida. The whole evening was really lovely. However, it was crazy to watch people parking on the sides of the highway and then flocking to the bridges to watch the fireworks show. It definitely was something I had never seen before!
On Wednesday, the trip itinerary was full with really interesting trips, and it was difficult to pick just one. I decided to go to the United States Capitol, because of my strong interest in politics. Even though Congress wasn’t in session, we got to walk by the Speaker of the House’s office and see the newly finished and extremely grand rotunda. An interesting fact that our tour guide told us is that George Washington is painted as God in the fresco, titled “The Apotheosis of Washington.” The U.S. Capitol also houses many statues of important people donated by the fifty states, including Thomas Edison, Abraham Lincoln, and my personal favorite – John Gorrie, the man credited with the invention of air conditioning – who hails from my home state of Florida! Even though I had visited the Capitol before, we had a fantastic tour guide who provided us with great information about the quirks of the home of the Congress of the United States. The night ended with a luau dinner at the Healey Family Student Center, filled with good food and dancing.
Thursday also included interesting classes and an intriguing field trip, just like the rest of the week. In U.S. Government, my professor divided us up into two groups and sent us back to the time of our founding fathers. We were assigned groups and had to argue either the position of Federalists or Anti-Federalists, who differed greatly in their ideas of how much power the federal government should have.
As for the afternoon activity, a small group of Summer Discovery students including myself drove to Ford’s Theater, where the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, was shot by John Wilkes Booth. While we got to go into the actual theater and see the seat where Lincoln was seated, one interesting part of the excursion was the museum underneath it. Everyone learned a lot about Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd, and also about the co-conspirators in the plan to assassinate Lincoln. One thing that I never knew about the event was that another man was supposed to assassinate Vice President Andrew Johnson, but got cold feet and went out drinking instead. After walking around the Ford’s Theater, we walked across the street to The Petersen House, which still displays the bed in which the president passed away. It was very humbling to see that a man of such great power was once standing in the same place as our group.
That evening, Mr. Jordan Kanarek of Collegewise came and spoke to our group about the process of applying to college. He also debunked some general college myths that surround the daunting experience, and was overall a very helpful source. He stayed behind afterwards to answer personal questions from both international and domestic students, who want to apply to college all over the world. He was very well spoken and we were very lucky to have him!
Friday, for me personally, was my favorite day of the week. The day was filled with interesting class discussions and free time to explore Georgetown. In my Introduction to International Relations and Foreign Policy class, we discussed an article about how the three main theories of thought regarding international relations would explain a zombie apocalypse. Everyone from realists to liberalists and idealists believe that the world operates in a different way, and it was truly fascinating to see how they would apply to a fictional scenario. Both of my classes have pushed my levels of critical thinking and problem solving. Politics surround us in our everyday lives, but never before have I actually had to come up with a solution, whether it be for the North Korean missile crisis or the war in Syria.
Friday night was a Summer Discovery Live! event called Casino Night, where we had fun with karaoke and card games including Blackjack, Roulette, Craps, and Poker. By the end of the night, I had learned how to play all the games and even wasn’t half bad at strategically playing Blackjack! We were able to cash in our chips for raffle tickets and the staff helped draw winners of some really sweet Georgetown apparel. Even though I didn’t win, the night was a blast and everyone seemed to have a lot of fun interacting with each other.
Overall, this first week at Summer Discovery Georgetown has been a blast. I am completely in love with the campus and cannot wait for the weeks to come! Thank you for reading and stay tuned for more stories in the future!
Guest Blogger: Sophia Athan