Friday, June 19, 2015

All things Historical

My head rested on the passenger seat window as I tugged at my hair. I was making one of the toughest decision of my thirteen year life span. My middle school would offer seventh and eighth grade students a week long tour around the state capital every other year. It was a tradition that my older sister got to enjoy and this year was my turn. My ride was bumpier than my sisters. The week that the school planned to hold the trip, our dance group would be holding our annual showcase. It wasn't just any showcase. Our June show was always our biggest, complete with a two days of full houses. I smacked my head on the window as my mom returned from her shopping, knowing that she expected the long awaited answer.

I chose dance in the end.

I don't regret my decision, but I feel left out when my peers discuss the grand Lincoln Memorial or the reknown White House. My days of idly kicking my legs while staring at the ground are behind me now.

We started our morning bright and early at 8, stocking up on calories in a downtown for our long tour of the monuments. I felt like we were in an episode of Amazing Race. Our group hopped across the town to visit the monuments, each visit requiring either a feet aching jog or a rushed taxi adventure. Upon our arrival to the site, our team sprinted into action, weaving through crowds and snapping pictures for five minutes before leaving the site. In the course of four hours, we managed to fit in the Washington Memorial, World War II Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, and Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. I'd say it was not bad for the first time in the city.
One of many pretty pictures!
We arrived Georgetown for our 12 o'clock tour. My heart fell to my stomach the moment our taxi stopped at the curb. I wouldn't be surprised if I found a magic talking hat in the dining quarters
Hogwarts in disguise.
because this school looked like Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Tall ancient building stretched toward the sky, each column complete with a triangular cap, garnished with metal crosses. The little Potterhead inside me fainted. Just like Emory University, our session began with a lecture lead by Kelly Young. I was starting to see a pattern with these college tours. Kelly informed us about the technical details— university statistics, tuition information, as well as key admission information. Her seminar was shortly followed by three guides who entered the room and guided us into the blazing sun.

Our group paired ourselves with the rising college junior, Yijin Yang. We were lead out to the front
Yijin in the beautiful Theology building.
gates where everyone met a statue of a man. Yijin revealed the man’s identity as the Roman Catholic Archbishop John Carroll. Sweat trickled down my temple at the mention that the school was the largest Catholic and Jesuit institute. I wouldn’t consider myself heavily religious influenced. I go to church twice a year, once for the annual Thanksgiving Fundraiser and once during the summer to check in on the church. The thought of a school founded on faith made me queasy, but apparently I wasn’t the only one. A parent questioned whether religion is heavily practiced amongst the student body on campus and Yijin reassured everyone that practicing religion on campus is a choice of the student. She admitted that she was troubled that the school was religious when she first applied, but after attending the school, she realized that religion is not an important factor for the college. I nodded in relief. Before Georgetown, I had an irrational fear of attending religious colleges. I’m glad that’s over.

Just like Emory, Georgetown is a college with rich culture and history. The customs on campus are, however, very intriguing. From saving John Carroll from a toilet seat to sealing the clock hands of the sky high tower, students on campus have compiled a unique set of traditions to be handed down.
Heading to where Obama was!
Yijin gave our group a chance to experience one of the customs when we exited the site where Barack Obama gave a speech the previous year. Before we left the area, a ghostly air of mischief surrounded Yijin’s smile as she warned us against stepping on the seal. Suddenly my mind flashed. I remember Shanti joking with her friend Chiamaka about trampling on a seal despite a warning from the guide. Although I managed to avoid the stamp, Stephen hopped on the mark and Chan-Law trampled it. Once we gathered, Yijin explained that stepping on the seal would bring misfortune. In our case, Stephen wouldn’t be admitted to the college and Chan-Law wouldn’t be seeing any financial aid in the future. Our cohort will pray for their loss in the monastery.

Although many of the buildings are traditionally styled, the university has a collection of high-tech
Beautiful and modern
buildings as well. Healey’s Family Room is one of the edifices which balance out the old and new. The structure is complete with a bar, study stations and a large room intended for studying. Similarly, the large flat screen hanging from the top of the room makes for a popular socializing area. I was particularly impressed with green architecture which made use of the outdoor rainwater to sustain a wall of vines growing indoors.

After our visit to the Emory and Georgetown, I realized how much West coast lacks in history compared to the East. AP American History teaches us that American history started in the East and slowly began stretching out into Western territory, making it a logical deduction that the East is richer in history. Aside from fascinating social study fanatics, Georgetown is close to the United State capital. That’s pretty cool in itself. Students interested in politics are five blocks away from the home of American politics.

After the tour, our group continued our picture snapping montage, catching a taxi to the White House for the media before heading to the Holocaust museum.

Photos of a few who were lost.
The thought of visiting the museum having a German dinner the previous night was ironic. We walked into the building with sweat and smiles but exited with tight lips and dark eyes. It was hard to get through the exhibit. Everyone has a gist of the horrors the Jews experienced, but the museum brought the experience to life using a five floor building to tell the story. Each exhibit is accompanied by an informational video, picture or artifact regarding the era of horror. Tourists are transformed into prisoners as they take a passport of a Jew who lived in the concentration camps. After each floor, the individual is allowed to flip one page to reveal their life story. The floor goes in chronological order, the top explaining how the mass genocide erupted and the bottom showing the aftermath. Everyone quietly made their way from one exhibit to another, aside from the occasional “excuse me” or “sorry.” We were reading a piece regarding the Holocaust in our English textbooks, and our teacher thought The Boy in the Striped Pajamas would be the perfect accompanying piece. Our class was mortified by what we saw. Spoiler alert: Our class had to turn their faces when the two boys were led into the oven. I thought that would be the worst experience I could have with witnessing the terror of the holocaust. Getting through this museum was like watching this movie and then putting the death scene on loop. I met the cohort outside, each of us looking the other direction and commenting about their experience with their eyes on the floor tiles. There was a lot to take in from the museum.

Our day didn’t end with sulking in pillows. Our cohort took a taxi back to the hotel and freshened up for our Georgetown Dinner at the City Tavern Club. Chan-Law gave some background about the eatery, but I wasn’t prepared for what was to come. Each ILC member had a student or Alum of Georgetown at their side and vice versa so everyone was seated next to someone new. I had the pleasure of sitting next to, Sean Redmond, my new crab cake companion, and the gracious and outgoing Abbey McNaughton. Thao sat directly in front of me, Conner Rohan sitting at her left and Joe on her right. Once again, dinner turns out to be my favorite part of the day, and this dinner in particular stands above all others. We had amusing conversation which ranged from studying abroad to least favorite aspects of the school to the existence of aliens. Everyone at the table clicked and the meeting was super fun and friendly.

Following our dinner, my CCC (Crab Cake Companion) led into a room where John Adams patiently waited for his photo to be taken. Of course, every picture needs some bombing so we threw ourselves in there to spice things up for John.

Picture from left to right Sean (CCC and BFF), Thao, Julie, Shanti 
Later, Sean gave us a tour of the building, taking us to see all four floors and explaining the function of each room during its time, earning an awe from everyone. By the time we made it to the top floor, it was 10 PM! Time flies when you’re having fun. 

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