Kyle Stucker ’17 – Saturday marked the first day of our week-long immersion trip to Washington D.C. Wabash College’s Rhetoric 370 class, led by Professor Sara Drury, has traveled to our nation’s capitol in order to examine the rhetoric of the city. The goal of our trip is to answer the following questions:
Who are the rhetorical agents and voices, past and present, in Washington, D.C.?
How is Washington D.C. a place of politics, activism, service, history, and public memory?
How does rhetoric in Washington, D.C. construct, manage, unify, and divide the nation?
Although we are only one day into our immersion, these questions have already begun to take precedence as we walk the historic streets of Washington D.C.
My personal experience has already taught me many lessons. Our flight from Indianapolis, IN to Newark, NJ was my first experience in an airplane. I was able to experience the adrenaline rush of take-off, the awe inspiring view from above, and the stress of boarding and departure. Once in D.C., I experienced another new activity: riding the subway. Proper navigation of an underground metro is proving to be a valuable skill. The metro drastically reduced travel time and is not too complex to understand. If not for the immersion trip, I would not have gained experience in these valuable activities.
Although proper transportation skills are important, those newly garnered abilities are merely bonus aquistitions for this trip. When we arrived in D.C., we immediately began to travel to many of the most popular locations in the city. Not only did this trip allow us to get our bearings, but we were able to begin developing our own opinions on the rhetoric of Washington D.C. The White House was our first destination, and it was interesting how different the stately building looked in the context of the city. When viewed through your television, the White House appears to be much more secluded than what is the reality. In fact, this difference between the communicated reality and what is actually real may be a prominent theme throughout the trip. The Washington Monument was next on our list, and it did not disappoint. The structure is massive; it is the tallest stone monument in the world and stands taller than any other structure in the city. There was a noticeable difference in the shade of stone about a third of the way up the monument. This is mostly due to the Civil War when construction was halted. After the war, it was impossible to use stone from the exact same source which caused a difference in color. This color difference now serves as a constant reminder of the Civil War, and also of Washington’s ability to rebound from such a crisis and continue to develop.
Sunday our journey continues. Each new day will bring new skills, observations, and conclusions relevant to Washington D.C. and its rhetorical significance. This immersion trip will be an unforgettable experience, not merely because of the pictures I collect or the good times I enjoy, but because of the greater understanding we will have of the real Washington D.C.