My trip to Washington D.C.

Authored By:

Mara T.

Welcome to my November blogpost!

I am here in the U.S. with the "PPP/ CBYX-Program", which is a scholarship program funded and administered by the government of the U.S. and Germany to provide high-school students from both countries a year-long stay in the other country.  One part of this scholarship is a five-day-trip to Washington D.C., which I and almost 100 other Grant students from Germany, attended from November 13.- November 18.

After my arrival at the "Reagan National Airport" in D.C. at about 11 am, I was brought with a shuttel bus to the hotel where we would stay for the week. After checking in, our supervisors decided we would take the metro downtown, since all the other participants would arrive and check in over the course of the day. So me and a group of about 30 people went downtown and to the "Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraits", where I saw the gallery of America's presidents. Later that day, we went back to the hotel, received our official welcome to D.C., had dinner, and then our first workshop about "Leadership Skills".

On Monday after breakfast, we went to the Capitol Hill to prepare for our Capital Hill day on Wednesday. Since everyone had individual schedules for Wednesday and had to navigate Capitol Hill by themselves, we were shown all the buildings from the outside, so we all knew where to go. After that, we went to the "Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial", which really impressed me. Then we had dinner, went back to the hotel, and started working on our Grassroot projects. In small groups, we had to decide on an issue that we noticed in the U.S., think about how we would try to solve this issue and prepare a presentation. The last thing we did on Monday was the preparation for the next day, since there would be U.S. Department of State officials visiting us in the morning.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of State and the CBYX officers came to our hotel and we had the chance to ask them our questions. Afterward, we had a simulation about diplomatic relationships, which wasn't only fun, but also very instructive. Then we went to the "Museum of African American History and Culture", the Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, which all were extremely imposing. Normally we would've also gone to the White House after having dinner at the “Hard Rock Cafe", but the rain was pouring, so we decided to do that the next day and instead drive around D.C. with our coach and marvel at some monuments.

On Wednesday was, as I mentioned before, our Capitol Hill day. After our arrival, I met up with a member of the House of Representatives. After our meeting, which consisted of a conversation and taking a photo together, me and the two other Grant students, who attended the meeting had the great chance to be shown around inside some of the buildings by one of the CBYX officials. Then I took a stroll around the hill to look at all the buildings, went inside the "Library of Congress", and even got a tour of the Capital. Next, me and all the other exchange students from Wisconsin had a meeting with a staffer of one of our senators. It was amazing to ask her all sorts of questions and to see an office of one of the senators from inside. After that, I met with the whole group again to take a group picture and finally go to see the White House, which was just beautiful. In the evening, we went to an NBA game, where the Washington Wizards played Oklahoma Thunder. Seeing this game live and with my friends was just amazing, especially because the last minutes of the match were incredibly exciting.

On Thursday, our last whole day, we went to the "National Gallery of Art", held our Grassroot presentations that we prepared on Tuesday, and had our final workshop.

Then, on Friday morning we all flew back to our host families.

All in all, I loved the week I spent in Washington D.C! Not only seeing all those impressive monuments and learning a lot about politics, history, and culture, but also being able to converse with all the other exchange students, sharing our experiences, seeing how their exchange year is going, and also making many amazing new friends was a fantastic opportunity that not every exchange student has, so I'm extremely grateful for that.

Still, I'm glad to be back home with my host family again because during my week in D.C. I got a taste of how much I will miss them when I go back to Germany in the summer. But right now I'm just very thankful for the remaining months with them in the U.S. and determined to enjoy and cherish my exchange year even more than I already did.