Roaming around Washington DC with a school group doesn’t exactly sound like an exotic or exciting trip such as traveling to Jamaica or Egypt. Obviously you have the chance to see where the president lives, where US currency is made, and where the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier rests. However, this travel experience to a typical tourist destination has taught me new ways of looking at America, and has taught me to appreciate the meaning of living in a democratic society.It was a two week trip to Washington DC; thirty students, two history teachers, and one travel bus.
We explored the typical sites such as the White House, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and the Capitol. They were all fascinating to look at, however, because history is only taught to us, the true meaning and purpose never shined through. This is when I stepped foot into the many museums and truly felt the worthiness of being an American citizen.
The Smithsonian National Air Space Museum opened my eyes to how far advanced man, science, and technology has gotten through many generations. The National Museum of African Art allowed me to explore the uniqueness that Africa has brought to the United States and let me experience a whole new culture from a different perspective. The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History had the greatest influence on me.
I learned about the first people to establish a home in America, and their ways of living. Specifically, these included hunting techniques and living arrangements. After seeing how the Native Americans lived their lives, I have come to appreciate all that I have today, including technology and family.
I have realized that without these ideas, I would not have the knowledge that I have obtained thus far. Overall, these various museums have taught me how America has expanded into the great world power it is today; these include culture, science, technology, and being open to new ideas. I assume that this is why America is called the ‘melting pot.’ As my high school history class explored everything that DC had to offer, what struck my heart the most was the kindness of its residents.
I remember this one particular evening when we were walking to the Foggy Bottom Restaurant for dinner. A homeless man dressed in rags was sitting on the corner of a sidewalk near Constitution Avenue begging to anyone who would listen for a bite to eat. A young, sophisticated-looking woman approached him and offered her dinner to him: a burger and fries.
By the look on her face, it was not an act of pity, but rather an act of kindness that came straight from the heart. That one moment changed my life for the better. My eyes are more open to the world around me, and I have learned to not judge others based on physical appearance.
Even though the trip to Washington DC seems like a typical place for history students to travel to, it has taught me more than I could have asked for. I received the historical education, as well as guidelines I can use every day to improve my character as a human being. This travel experience was not just an educational experience but a memory that will last forever.
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