I’m glad my trip to Washington, D.C., was not how I thought it would be. Before flying, I thought coming to D.C. would be scary because I was flying on a plane by myself for the first time. I predicted the worst scenarios that could have happened: getting lost in the airport, having problems with security, sudden gate changes, missing the call to board my plane and worst of all, losing my plane ticket or passport. Luckily, I didn’t have any of those problems, and it was after landing in the Reagan Airport in Washington, D.C., that I felt relaxed about the trip and pumped up for The Bill of Rights Institute Constitutional Academy!
After finding The Bill of Rights Institute Constitutional Academy group at the airport, I met some students who just arrived. We all got into the shuttle that was taking us to Marymount University. As we were heading towards the university, I was amazed at what I was seeing through the shuttle window! Literally, from every side, there was something to see whether it was statues, old buildings, water, or people enjoying their walks or jogs, and most importantly, the monuments. I was amazed at how I could see them from every turn the shuttle took.
The next day, was heavily scheduled. I had to wake up at five in the morning so that I could board the shuttle to the U.S. Capital. Once I arrived, I took so many pictures. It was a beautiful day and I was excited about going inside the Capital! I was amazed by the architecture of the building, and the white stone that I believed made the Capital so attractive. Going inside the Capital was breath taking. Every wall, the ceiling, as well as the floor were full of colors and designs. For a second, I thought I was in Italy or Greece. Although taking pictures wasn’t permitted, I made sure that I took them in my mind. I haven’t seen anything as beautiful as the Capital; it was as simple as that. After touring around the Capital, I had the wonderful opportunity to sit in the Capital Visiting Center and listen to senators and congressmen who came to give their speeches.
The following days took us to Mount Vernon, the house where the Founding Father, George Washington and his wife, Martha Washington, lived and to the National Archives. I learned that George Washington didn’t rerun for election again after he served his term because he wanted to live the rest of his life peacefully at Mount Vernon. I didn’t blame him because I knew I would want to live over there if it was my place! Driving to the National Archives was amazing because the shuttle was driving closer around the monuments and I took a picture of the White House from my window! Even though the academy hadn’t schedule a tour at the White House, I was grateful that I had the chance to take a picture of the White House from a distance. Once I arrived at the National Archives, I admired the architecture of the building. In the National Archives were the original documents of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. They were placed in a low light room because any light, especially a flash from a camera, damaged the documents. It was amazing seeing the large document of the actual Constitution behind the glass.
The last day of the academy was unbelievable. Where did the time go? During the morning and afternoon, everyone had to give presentations on regulations and tyr to convince the directors of the academy (playing the role of congress men and women) to see their point of view.
Later that day, I boarded the shuttle to go visit the National Mall. I visited the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, the Franklin Roosevelt Monument, the Lincoln Monument and the National World War II Memorial. One of the things I loved while I was touring the National Mall was that I got to stand on the exact spot where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Monument. I am amazed that I stood at the exact spot where this powerful figure gave an important speech that impacts how we citizens of America live today.
As I boarded my plane with Washington, D.C., behind me, I realized that my trip was like a dream. It was like a wonderful dream that I didn’t want to wake up from.
Thank you Ford Motor Company again for changing my life in a positive way! This trip has impacted me in so many ways. It’s taught me and my parents, that I can be independent, that I know how to find my way around. It has taught me how to share a dormitory with my other roommates, as helped me in making friends because I tend to be shy in meeting new people. Attending this academy has encouraged me to be more aware about politics.
Dalila Šetka is a student who qualified for assistance through the Blue Oval Scholars program to attend the 2012 Bill of Rights Academy. She is sharing her experiences from the program with Ford Social.