Members of ASG standing in front of street art in D.C. (Courtesy of ASG)
It was Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, when our very own Associated Student Government touched down in our nation’s capitol. A long, coast-to-coast flight was followed by dinner at Nando’s Peri-Peri, an afro-Portuguese fusion style restaurant, home of the African Bird’s Eye Chili. After a unique South African dining experience, the team rendezvoused towards American University on Embassy Road, where they would recharge for the night.
On Wednesday morning, the team awoke in excitement for the day’s activities. It started with a visit to Georgetown University and then a trip down history lane at the National Museum of American History. The First Ladies exhibit was the first of many on the day’s agenda.
This particular exhibit explores the unofficial but important position of the first lady and the ways that different women have shaped the role to make their own contributions to the presidential administrations and the nation. The exhibition features more than two dozen gowns from the Smithsonian’s almost 100-year old First Ladies Collection, including those worn by Jacqueline Kennedy, Laura Bush, and Michelle Obama.
ASG attends the Greater Washington Urban League on Jan. 19, 2017. (Courtesy of ASG)
After their tour of the museum the team was given access to the Philip A. Hart Senate Office building, which is the third U.S. Senate office building. There they saw the office of Kamala Harris, an attorney and politician who is the junior U.S. Senator from California. She is a member of the Democratic Party and served as the 32nd Attorney General of California.
“The Senate office was fascinating and reminded me of the way an emergency room at
a hospital operates,” said Alyssa Oliver, ASG representative and Director of Honors Student Council, “Staffers and interns were buzzing about, planning our nation’s future and making some of the most important legislative decisions. It really was very interesting to see such a juxtaposition of power and normalcy in the workplace.”
The day ended with dinner at the Old Ebbitt Grill, a famous oyster bar and favorite spot of Presidents Grover Cleveland and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It’s Beaux-Arts decor, velvet-lined booths, and mahogany rich furniture makes this a perfect spot for business moguls, politicians, and journalists alike.
The team was able to sleep in on the following day until about 10:30 a.m. After a much needed night’s rest, they made their way to the California State Society Presidential Inaugural Luncheon at the Ritz Carlton. It’s goal was to bring entrepreneurs, young philanthropic businessmen, and politicians of California together.
Mission Viejo’s very own Mayor Wendy Bucknum sat at the same table with our Associated Student Government.
“She was incredible, very articulate and seemed really excited to be talking with us,” said Oliver, “She discussed with us her concerns about affordable housing for young adults in the Southern Orange County area. She reiterated that housing costs are simply too high and it ultimately detracts younger people from coming into the city.”
After a truly eye-opening experience, the team was invited to attend the National Republican Club on Capitol Hill for representative Mimi Walters, where a gang of republicans and conservatives gathered to discuss policy implementation.
ASG anticipates the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump, outside the U.S. Capitol. Jan. 20, 2017. (Courtesy of ASG)
“Many people there assumed we were conservative and were shocked to find out that most of us were indeed democrats,” said Oliver, “One person I spoke with said something I will never forget… She said, ‘You know if you don’t vote democrat when you’re young you don’t have heart. But if you don’t vote republican when you’re older then you don’t have a brain.”
Although ASG was surrounded by people with conflicting ideologies, the republicans there were enthralled to be conversing with students so committed to politics.
That following Friday was the big day. The day a new President would be crowned.