Wide Awakening

April 1, 2009
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Waking up at 4 o’clock in the morning is not something a high school student would regularly do, but in this instance I made an exception. I was given the chance to attend the Presidential Inauguration in Washington, D.C. and I could not wait! I woke up at four in order to get to the airport at five. With blood shot eyes and enough caffeine to re-stock a coffee shop, I anxiously waited in the terminal. With about fifty other girls from my school, I boarded the plane off to my visit to the nation’s capital.
When we arrived in the frigid North, I was braced with negative temperatures and unfamiliar accents. Decked out in winter apparel from head to toe, I looked like the abominable snowman, but at least I was warm-for now. Then we arrived at the hotel where the rest of the Close Up students were staying. As the elevator doors opened, I was trying to imagine my roommates. With the comfort of my friend Ashley, I swiftly swiped the room key to find an empty room. Slightly disappointed, we made our way to the first “workshop.” We entered the double doors and were greeted with a friendly hello from our group counselor. “Welcome Naw’lins” confirmed my fear that students from the North and other parts of the world would just recognize us as mere party girls. Because of the New Orleans’s notorious reputation for being a party city, we were asked shocking questions like, “wait, not everyone from New Orleans is black?” I was stunned at the idea, and simply looked down at my pasty skin to reply apparently not. Our group counselor, being a native Michigander, and the rest of the students were very interested with New Orleans after Katrina. So, Ashley and I explained to everyone unfamiliar with evacuation routes, hurricane boxes, and blue tarps what there is to know about hurricanes. It was interesting the see how many teenagers around the world were sympathetic to New Orleans residents and how ready they were to offer help. Because of this experience I have realized that understanding and empathy are vital in human relationships. Meeting so many people from different geographical backgrounds has made me realize how small the world I am living in is. Thanks to this incredible trip, I am able to respect other people’s opinions and beliefs. I highly recommend that anyone interested in politics or simply looking for an eye-opening experience sign up for Close Up today!
Close Up is a hands-on program for students in Washington, D.C. The city is a living classroom, giving students first hand experience with people, processes and places that make up our nation’s capital. The students you will meet will amaze you– coming from every state and from all walks of life. I have gained a greater understanding for the political works of our country and now I can apply what I’ve learned in the classroom to real life. Not to mention, you get to be a part of history. You get to watch the President be inaugurated!





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