This winter, I had the opportunity to live in Washington D.C. for two weeks and participate in a seminar called Inside Washington, through the Washington Center. I lived in a suit-style apartment with three other girls, one was from Juniata and the other two were from Suffolk University in Boston. This was one of the most amazing experiences I have had and one of the most mentally challenging. Not only was I immersed in the politics of D.C. by attending lectures each morning, by speakers like former Senator John Kerry. But I also visited embassies and think-tanks across D.C., while learning about the historic impeachment going on right now.
You might be wondering what life was like living with three strangers and going grocery shopping by ourselves each week…
Well…I can tell you that I made three new friends and learned from their different perspectives regarding politics and life in general. While at the seminar, I was forced to see opinions from either side of the political aisle and to think through a non-partisan lens. This expanded my thinking because I saw extreme opinions, heard facts, and was able to form my own opinion as a result.
One of the most memorable things that I did in D.C. was go to the Afghanistan embassy. We heard from an Afghani diplomat who described what life in Afghanistan is like and how growing up in a war-torn country strips you of your identity. One of the most compelling things he told us was that he, “was born in war, grew up in war, and might die in war.”
This spoke to me. The greatest takeaway I got from our conversation was, “to try and see things from the other person’s perspective.” To have compassion for each other, we must understand each other. This visit to the embassy was another moment that stretched my thinking and another reason why this seminar has made me grow into a greater critical thinker, skeptic (in a good way), and civically engaged citizen.
–Tessa Senel ’22, Professional Writing POE with an Environmental Emphasis,
Fluffy haired, rock climbing, nature loving, tea enthusiast