Remember in elementary school when you would have to go around the room and say what you did over winter break? Although we do not do that anymore (people can usually tell from your Facebook photos), I thought I would share the great experience I had while away from UNH. For ten days leading up to the Presidential Inauguration, I participated in an academic seminar at The Washington Center in Washington, D.C. Each day, I attended lectures by a multitude of people involved in politics, as well as going on site visits with students from universities all over the country. I went on a tour of the US Capitol building, visited the Israeli embassy, talked to leaders at world-renowned PR firms and think tanks, and had dinner at the National Press Club. One of my favorite parts was going to the Newseum, a museum all about news history and what role the media has played in shaping some of the most significant events of our time. There were newspapers dating all the way back to the colonial days, artifacts from some of the most famous FBI cases, and even sections of the Berlin Wall.
While it was definitely an enriching academic experience, the best part for me was getting to spend time in such a historic and cultural city. Growing up in a small New England town (and then going to school in a town not much bigger) I am by no means a city girl. From learning how to use the Metro to how to hail a cab (which is so much harder then they make it look in the movies), I had the full D.C. experience. As many of you may know from my previous blog entries, I’m somewhat of a self proclaimed foodie. My favorite stops included Union Station, the ultimate place for people watching while you grab a quick meal. I also loved We the Pizza, a stone’s through away from the Capitol building and owned by Bravo’s hit TV show Top Chef alum Spike Mendelson. I could not leave D.C. without visiting Georgetown, a neighborhood known for its killer shopping district. I spent my fair share of Christmas money there in an attempt to do my part to help stimulate the economy (wink wink).
The main reason I came to D.C. during this time of year was to attend the Kelly Clarkson/Beyoncé concert Second Inauguration of President Barack Obama on Monday, January 21st. I got up at 5:00 am in order to get a good spot on the National Mall, also known as the biggest lawn party ever. Over a million of my closest friends joined me for what was truly a once in a lifetime experience. For a Political Science major, there is nothing like seeing democracy in action. It was a chance for people to put aside their partisan differences and listen to James Taylor our president and vice president get sworn in, and hear their promises to “preserve, protect, and defend” the Constitution of the United States. This was the first election I voted in, and being able to see the process from start to finish is a unique opportunity. I don’t know if I will ever get to go to another inauguration, but I’m already planning my next trip to return to the most fascinating and challenging place I have ever been!
Written by Samantha Friedman, UNH Class of 2015