Winding Down the Semester

4 May

It is crazy that my semester in Washington DC is almost over. The past few weeks have been crazy, I have had so many unforgettable experiences with my journalism class. I will be leaving on Monday to go home, but I think it would be a great time to update what I have done the past few weeks.

On Monday, April 15th, our class went to the DC institution Ben’s Chili Bowl. We heard from local historian Marshall Brown, who told us about the institution and its grand history. Ben’s has survived gentrification, race riots and a host of other events in Washington, yet stands a symbol of strength on U Street. Brown’s passion for the institution was clear from the outset, he was a wonderful guy to hear from and the food was excellent. You knew you could put chili on a half smoke (which is kinda like a polish sausage) and it would taste so good. Sometimes, they have famous visitors (but Obama was not there that day, sorry folks).

Ben's Chili Bowl

On Tuesday, April 16th we went to the NRDC to hear about how organization works with journalists to promote their cause. We heard from one of Bob Deans’ assistants who explained to us how they work to craft their message in different areas of the country. They work with journalists to get their name out in the community. After that we went to the National Press Club’s broadcast operation center to learn about on-set video shooting. I never realized how much goes into shooting. I learned about different kinds of lighting and set design. It was a great hands-on experience.

On Wednesday, April 17th, we went to the Foreign Press Center and met with Acting Director Dick Custin. Custin has been a diplomat around the world and is working his five years in Washington DC. Diplomats only get to work five years in Washington DC before they go back abroad. He was a very good speaker and very knowledgeable about issues that the foreign press face in the United States. After he spoke we met with Margot Haddad who was a former student in the WSP Journalism program and now works for Plus-TV in France. She gave us some great advice about maintaining connections in Washington and how hard work at an internship can turn into a job.

Normally, I don’t talk about Thursdays or Fridays because I’m working, but on Friday, April 19th we celebrated, the one and only, Kelsey Donohue’s 22nd birthday. Kelsey is an unbelievable young woman who cares deeply about higher education. Most of our class celebrated at Guapo’s a local Mexican restaurant near campus. She was very surprised and told got a job at the Department of Education’s communication office (but then the docked her initial pay because she was “a recent college graduate”, seriously? She probably better than anyone else at that department, reverse your decision). However, that night Kelsey had fun and we all had a great time. Our class is the best.

Then we had a very special class on Sunday. We got to go to see “Meet the Press”. That week they were recapping the hectic week after the Boston Marathon Bombing. We saw Tom Brokaw, Pete Williams, Senator Dick Durbin, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Peggy Noonan and so many other movers and shakers in the United States. What a morning to see “Meet the Press”. After the show, we met the moderator David Gregory who graduated from American University.  It was great, truly an experience that I will never forget. After the show, we had breakfast as a class which was great.

On Monday, April 22 we met with Josh Hatch for the Chronicle of Higher Education who spoke with us on data visualization and then Kristen Mitchell spoke with us about the Freedom of Information Act. Then we had one of the best day’s of day, sailing on the Chesapeake Bay.

On Tuesday we traveled to Annapolis to sail on the Chesapeake Bay. I had never sailing before so it was quite an experience. We sailed on a skipjack which is a oyster dredging ship that used to populate the Chesapeake Bay, but there are only 20 working those in the world. We heard from members of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation who explained their role in protecting the Bay and how they have helped the improve the condition over the past 20 years. It was an amazing experience. After that we went to Professor Krasnow’s house for pizza and then shopped in Annapolis.

Chesapeake Bay 1

Those past two weeks were great, but there is more to this story…

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