Washington D.C. we hear of this place all the time during our schooling career. At first you learn that this is the capital of our nation. Then you learn that this is where the President of the United States lives. You then learn in middle/high school that this is where our laws are made, and this is where the important “stuff” happens.
When I was in elementary and middle school, I just went along with all of this, and never really bothered exploring any of the vast magnificent things that Washington D.C. has to offer. When I switched schools the H.C. Williams where I now attend high school in Canton, NY, I joined the National FFA Organization. The FFA makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success through agricultural education. One of the leadership opportunities that the FFA has to offer is the Washington Leadership Conference or WLC. WLC is a weeklong conference in the heart of our country.
During WLC you stay at a hotel with FFA members from all over the country. Every room has four people in it from all across the United States of America; no room has two kids from the same state. This was a great experience because it forced kids to make at least three new friends. Absolutely every person that left Washington D.C. had at least three new friends, but there is no doubt in my mind that they went home with many more than that, I know that I did!
While in D.C. we woke up each morning and went downstairs in the hotel to our first workshop of the day. Each day we would “unlock” a new monument in D.C. We would discuss the monument, why it is important to our history and our country, and the last couple days of the week, we toured D.C. and visited all of the monuments. It was absolutely astonishing to see the monuments of our forefathers, the replicas of the most important events from our history, and to see the buildings where the most important decisions for our country are made.
What worked well during my trip was that we would sit and learn about these monuments, our forefathers, what great leaders they were and the accomplishments they made, but then we were able to go out and relate it all to real life by seeing the monuments, touring D.C., and seeing everything that we had been talking about for the last couple of days. It was amazing to see the capitol of our country and the monuments that I had only ever seen on the backs of coins and dollar bills.
The one thing that did not work well was our community service project. As a group of well over 100 kids, we went to a corn field a ways out of Washington D.C. to pick corn for the National Food Bank. It made us all feel great knowing that we would be feeding people somewhere, but our bus drivers did not co-operate. Traffic was awful, so by the time we got there we only had an hour to pick as much corn as possible. Then, our bus drivers left us there to go somewhere, and when we had to leave, we didn’t have a bus. It was frustrating because we were working so hard to help people, but when it was time to go, we were stranded there.
FFA has allowed me to do these things, and I encourage everyone to join, you too can travel like me!
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