From Coursework to Connections in Washington, D.C.
Day 2, May 8, 2017
By Alli Caravella
This morning started out a bit earlier for me than the rest of the group. We’ve been planning to attend the National Holocaust Memorial Museum, but unfortunately you cannot reserve tickets in advance. It opens at 6 a.m. online the day of for purchasing. So I woke up at 5:55 a.m. and got to work! Although I was super quick online, the earliest that I could get us in was 1 p.m., so we had the morning to do more exploring.
Naturally, it started out with a Starbucks run. I got my venti cinnamon dolce latte, and we headed out. The destination was the Newseum, which centers around the history of the media. After a bit of a directions difficulty, we ended up right where we needed to be. I was surprised by the sheer size of it. There were six different floors packed with exhibits and a beautiful terrace overlooking Pennsylvania Avenue.
We spent time looking at media coverage of the Civil Rights movement, 9/11, and the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was amazing how much of the material there actually matched up with Mr. Palmer’s class – America Since 1945. Maria’s PBL focuses on civil rights, so it was a relevant connection.
Next we were off to the Holocaust Museum. At 1 p.m. we entered. After a nice conversation with the ticket reader (who did not quite know how to use her new machine), we made our way to the top floor.
I was not prepared for what awaited inside. Although I’ve learned about the Holocaust and discrimination from history books, there was something entirely different about stepping into it. It worked in linear order, starting from the beginning with Nazi propaganda to death camps and finally the liberation. I was most blown away by the shoes. When you enter into the third floor, there are two glass dividers filled up with shoes. Those who were forced into concentration camps had their shoes confiscated. When they died, they were left behind. It took my breath away to think about the hundreds of thousands of shoes that must have been left over. It was a seemingly insignificant detail in the grand scheme of things, but it’s the one that stood out the most.
Speechless and subdued from our visit to the museum, we made our way to the nearest restaurant, Au Bon Pain, and then we had just enough time to fast walk over to one of the U.S. Senate buildings. We were lucky enough to have a chance to meet with Senator Maggie Hassan from New Hampshire. She was very welcoming, and we had a nice photo op together. After a quick chat, she had to run off to prepare for a vote, so we came home to rest.
The last place that we went today was to the Verizon Center. Clare’s mother has a contact who got us court-side seats to see the Mystics (women’s basketball team) play. It was a truly unique experience that ended with cotton candy, popcorn, and cheese fries. We even took some pictures with Pax the Panda.
Around 10 p.m. we finally got back to the house. Today was a very long and productive day. Looking forward, we have a lot to reflect on about the Holocaust Museum. It was such a powerful experience that left us all without words.
We’ve walked 13 miles in the past few days and all of us are about to crash. It was a great day and I look forward to tomorrow!