Bleisch ’16 Exploring Washington D.C.

Josh Bleisch ’16 - Day two of our Washington, DC immersion trip proved very exciting. While we did not need to be ready and in the lobby of the hotel until 10:30, I got up early to attend mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. It was a great opportunity to be able to visit this beautiful and historic Church. St. Matthew is the patron saint of public servants, very fitting for the seat of the Archdiocese of Washington. St. Matthews was also the location of President John F. Kennedy’s funeral mass. In addition to the rich history, the inside of the cathedral was absolutely stunning. The incredibly detailed iconography lined the walls, and the music from the large pipe organ filled the cavernous sanctuary. St. Matthews was definitely one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen.

Bleisch, at right, with Dylan Miller in front of the White House.

From there it was back to the hotel for a quick 30 minute nap before the group hoofed it over to the closest metro stop to begin our day. From there we spent some time in the American History Museum. The place was so chock full of amazing artifacts, I was only able to see about half of the exhibits. One of the exhibits that stuck with me in particular was the “Star Spangled Banner.” Inside, the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write his poem that would eventually become our National Anthem was on display. What an amazing piece of American History!

For lunch, the group walked down the National Mall to the National Museum of the American Indian. It wouldn’t be a rhetoric class trip without Dr. Drury explaining to us all the difference in the narratives seen in the American History Museum versus the Museum of the American Indian. After Lunch, and a brief walk through that museum, it was free time. My friend, Dylan Miller, and I walked over to the National Gallery of art and had the chance to see some famous works by Monet, van Gogh, da Vinci, and Picasso.

After that, we went back to the hotel to get off our feet and make plans for the evening. We decided to go to the famous Ben’s Chili Bowl. A sign on the wall listed the people who were allowed to eat there for free, and those people were Bill Cosby, and President Obama and family. The place was packed, and for good reason, the food was fantastic! Dylan and I then decided to go back to the White House for some classic touristy photo ops. We asked a nice family to take our picture. Judging by their accents, they must have been from Texas. When they asked us where we were from, we explained that we were on a trip with a class from Wabash College, expecting to have to explain that it is a very small school outside of Indianapolis. However, the father had a friend who was an alum of the College, Small World!

One more thing: apparently, on the south side of the White House, you aren’t supposed to walk on the road, so we were “emphatically suggested” to move back on the sidewalk by a Secret Service agent. Just one more thing to check off that bucket list!

Tomorrow is another long day with plans to tour the Capitol and meet Senator Joe Donnelly, and I look forward to all the other great experiences I’m sure to have while here in DC.

Stucker ’17 Learning Way Around D.C.

Prof. Sara Drury’s students in front of White House

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.