Monthly Archives: November 2009

Another Capital Visit

I find myself in D.C. yet again this block to participate in a conference through the Study of the Center of the Presidency and Congress, one of the country’s most respected think tanks regarding political issues. The Center runs a yearlong fellowship with 85 students (both graduate and undergraduate) to study the US Presidency, the public policy making process, and the Chief Executive’s relations with Congress, allies, the media, and the American public. The fellowship culminates in a 30 page paper discussing presidential policy. I am lucky enough to be Colorado College’s representative.

Wednesday afternoon, I ran from class to the airport, arriving at the gate, just as my plane was boarding. That’s the one nice thing about having a small airport nearby…you can get in and out quickly. I arrived in D.C. late that night…scarfed down my warm welcome cookie, and headed up to my room to meet my roommate, Paige. She’s Texas A&M’s rep, and everything one would expect of a Texas sorority girl: beautiful, brilliant, friendly…and packed six pairs of shoes, all with six-inch heels.

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Outside the Supreme Court...right before we saw Justice Sotomayor walk by

Thursday morning, everyone began arriving. I couldn’t help but to notice that the gender ratio was quite skewed. Women were outnumbered 4:1. The funny thing is that Colorado College has sent female reps for the last four years. For the most part, the students were from big, east coast universities and military academies. I have students in my peer group that are graduate students at Cornell and Yale, and everyone here is absolutely brilliant (example: my roommate is a regional finalist for the Marshall Scholarship). I have to admit, it was quite intimidating having to present my research to grad students, but once I got over my initial insecurities, I began to feel inspired. Being around all these dedicated people has made me reflect on what I want to do next year and challenged me to take necessary risks to realize my potential.

The highlight of Thursday was undoubtedly Bud Krogh. Krogh was an advisor to the Nixon administration and was imprisoned for his part as a “Plumber” leading up to the Watergate Scandal. When the Pentagon Papers were made public, Krogh was tasked with preventing the further leakage of classified White House documents. He went a little too far when he arranged for the break-in of a psychiatrist’s office to gather information on one of his patients (the person who had leaked the report to the New York Times). Although Krogh only spent two days engaging in illegal behavior under the misguided guise of “National Security,” it was enough for him to be sentenced to two to six years in prison. Two days of tacit consent erased all of his hard work and noble accomplishments. And the saddest part was that at the time he genuinely believed that he was acting in the country’s best interest. What was remarkable was the deep reflection Krogh had done since then. He spoke to us about ethics and loyalties and having the courage to voice a dissenting opinion. The rest of the conference was great (trips to the Supreme Court, running into Justice Sotomayor in the corridor, and briefings from Hill staffers), but Bud Krogh’s speech had the greatest impact on me.

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Outside the White House on Friday night on our walk back from dinner and drinks

Although the Center kept us pretty busy, they were nice enough to give us Friday night off. I quickly made friends with several students, and went to eat dinner at Old Ebbitt’s Grill. The restaurant is famous for entertaining several Presidents, and is steps away from the White House. Afterwards, we crossed the street to hang out at Hotel Washington’s rooftop bar and enjoyed a gorgeous view of the city.

Second Week Satisfaction

Is there any state of mind better than this for a CC student? Well, maybe the feeling of just having completed a full block, final exam/project/meltdown and all. But this one is pretty great too.

The scenario? You’re in the second week of the block. Your first week was, as always, new and exciting in so many ways, and you haven’t been able to stop thinking about concepts you’d never previously considered pondering in depth (such as, was my cognitive ability to learn enhanced or impaired by that marshmallow inchworm I made in preschool?). Though you previously thought your weekend festivities (in this case, HALLOWEEKEND!) might have had to be compromised to get all your assignments done by Monday, you managed to balance everything and turn all tasks in on time, even if the majority of your Sunday was spent glued to a work table in Tutt. Anticipating a case of the Mondays (indicated by the immediate need for caffeine upon waking), you arrived at class to find that it was just as invigorating as last week, and though you are currently glancing at the bursting-at-the-seams syllabus for the next 2.5 weeks with a slight feeling of intimidation, you have a feeling: it’s all good.

To top it all off, I’ve had a stellar Tuesday. The class I’m taking right now in third block, Contemporary Educational Issues, makes regular visits to different schools in Colorado Springs. Today we visited a charter middle school that just opened in August 2009, brand-new. The name? Jack Swigert Aerospace Academy. Why? Because it’s partnered with THE SPACE FOUNDATION! How’s that for something new? The mission of the school is to make learning (with a concentration on math and sciences) stimulating, with the help of integrated space-y programs into the curriculum. It was clear that the school had a LONG way to go; like any other American school, it is currently battling multiple battles: accomodating English Language Learners, closing achievement gaps between grades, setting achievable curriculum standards, meeting CSAP test scores, and helping students to find quality in the subjects they’re learning.

I hope the rest of CC is experiencing Second Week Satisfaction! Hopefully we’re all not too worn out by all the events that went on this weekend (the Worner Dance Party on Halloween Night was definitely a highlight for me), or the quantity of candy we consumed!

Three gnomes on Halloween!