Wesleyan offered an opportunity to Wesleyan students this semester; to experience the inauguration in person. Most people do not get the chance to do this in their lifetime, and Wesleyan students were able to experience it in their high school. Wesleyan worked with an organization called Close-Up, which offers weekly trips to Washington D.C. to learn about the capital and the history of this nation. Wesleyan sent 16 students on the trip. Chris Yoder, AP Government teacher, and Ted Russell, the history chair, went on the trip as well.
Yoder had been on this trip twice before and said, “Since I had been before, I had experienced many of the events on the trip before and previous knowledge helped me to be able to lead our group more efficiently.”
Close-Up randomly splits up groups to travel to museums, monuments, and memorials with a personal instructor. At the different sites, students discuss what they learned and how it had effected them. Junior Megan Gallagher was one of the students who travelled to Washington D.C.
Gallagher said, “My favorite event was the African American History and Culture museum because it was incredibly well done. Not only did it acknowledge all they went through in a respectful way and represented the injustice they faced, it showed how they prevailed. The culture area also showed how despite their oppression, they affected culture in a positive way.”
Senior Wyatt Stall’s favorite part of the week was the “changing of the guards at Arlington” which is an unique process that showcases the tradition of guarding the unknown soldiers.
At night, students would participate in debates on prominent issues this country faces, or go to informational meetings with political experts. There were 2,300 students this week from states like California, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas and Florida. It offers an experience to learn about diverse viewpoints from students in different parts of the country. It was a great opportunity to be open-minded and further develop political ideals.
Senior Samantha Laurite said, “I learned about the culture and history of Washington D.C. and through meeting people I learned about different cultures from people all over the country.”
Wesleyan met David Purdue, a Georgia senator, and the representative for Gwinnett and Fulton County on Wednesday. They discussed issues like immigration and climate change.
Ted Russell said, “I would say my favorite thing that we did as a group was our Capitol Hill day, where we all got dressed up and were able to spend time with our Senator and Representatives and be together as a group exploring D.C that day.”
On Friday, students were able to experience the inauguration of the 45th president, Donald Trump. Students experienced the swearing in of the vice president and president, and it gave students the opportunity to support the leader of this nation. Friday night, Close-Up threw an inaugural ball for the students from every hotel.
Junior Emma Surber said, “My favorite part of the week was probably when we went to the inauguration and then observed the women’s protest the next day. It was cool to see how different the two were.”
On the final day, Wesleyan students experienced the Women’s March, a display of democracy and the rights the Constitution awards its people.
Yoder said one of his favorite parts of the trip was “seeing the Women’s March, I had never experienced something of that scale before.”
The trip was packed full of opportunities to explore and experience the capital, and it gave students an opportunity to experience politics firsthand.