The Awakening of the Capital Scholars

This weekend, I got the chance to go to Mount Vernon! I got to walk the land where George Washington lived. This trip was part of the Capital Scholars expedition, so all thirteen of us were at the same place for the first time since the beginning of our time in D.C.

I was lucky because I got to plan the trip. Aundrea and I sat down during our free time to come up with a list of ideas of things to do for the expedition. There were various ideas from kayaking in Georgetown to a fancy dinner night. Aundrea came up with the brilliant idea to go to Mount Vernon since she had done it before in her youth. When I had the chance, I sat down with my roommates and came up with a gameplan to get to and from Mount Vernon, since it is a good distance from the city. Yadira was able to find a cruise that goes down the Potomac River. We added that to the list to send to Dr. Herrera and Ms. Grant. Out of the different options, Dr. Herrera and Ms. Grant decided that we should either take a day trip to Mount Vernon or the cruise to Mount Vernon. Next, it was time to put it to a vote. I asked the Capital Scholars which activity they would rather do and they chose the cruise. Next, we had to choose the date. This was a bit trickier. Since there are so many of us with different schedules, it was hard to find a day that worked for everyone. Luckily, we figured that July 9th worked best. Dr. Herrera and Ms. Grant purchased the tickets and we were ready to set sail!

The cruise took place out of the National Harbor in Maryland. Not only was it amazing to look at the Potomac River, but there were so many interesting things to do at the harbor. There was a cool statue called “The Awakening” that looks like it is coming out of the ground. There is also a huge Ferris wheel. According to our tour guide on the boat, they cannot technically call it a Ferris wheel because that term is copyrighted, so instead they call it the “Capital Wheel.” Once I got to the Harbor, I went and picked up the tickets for the group. As we were getting ready to get on the boat, I realized that we did not have enough tickets. Aundrea and I ran back to the ticket booth to get the additional tickets. The lady who helped us realized that the gate was not opened so we could not get where we were supposed to be. She ran back with us and opened the gate. With her help, we were able to get on the boat without a problem.

The boat trip was very pleasant and the weather was beautiful. It was so fun to sail on the Potomac River. The boat operators had a lot of knowledge about the area and would tell different stories and facts throughout the cruise.

As soon as we got to the house, we all realized one thing right away-Washington had quite the view. It feels like you can see the whole river from his house. The first thing we saw was George and Martha Washington’s tombs. It was crazy to think that we were only feet away from the bones of America’s first president. We then went to tour the mansion. For today, that mansion would have been considered a typical two story house. It was not nearly as big and as grand as I had imagined. It made me feel like I was in Pride and the Prejudice because of all the old paintings. An interesting fact is that 40% of the artifacts in the house were original pieces owned by the Washington family. We also got to see the slave quarters. Another interesting fact, in George Washington’s will, his slaves were to be freed after Martha’s death. Martha freed many of the slaves only a year after George Washington’s death. Some of the slaves were never freed and were instead given to Martha’s kin. There was a lovely museum that was dedicated to the life of the slaves that lived in Mount Vernon. I felt so proud of our country while touring Mount Vernon. Our country has come a long way since Washington was president and we still have a long way to go. Like Kennedy once said, “ All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days. Nor in this life of this Administration. Nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.”

One thing I learned is that planning an event with so many people can be difficult but the end result is always worth it. I had a blast and it seems that most of the Capital Scholars did as well. I would plan it all again if I had the chance.

Only a few weeks left in DC, I plan to make them count!

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