Friday, July 1, 2011

July 1st, both Educational and Entertaining

Today I woke up feeling much less tired, and quite enthusiastic to start our day of touring Washington, D.C. I went downstairs with Alex, and we found Julia and Mr. Miranda already waiting for us at the hotel’s restaurant. We ate a quick breakfast, and then took a cab to Georgetown University. We were early for our appointment, so we decided to stroll around the campus for a bit. One thing that I’ve found about the east coast is that I love the architecture. In California, earthquakes happen all the time, so there are very few large brick buildings. Therefore, I was very impressed by the massive stone and brick buildings on the Georgetown campus.

Before long, it was time for our appointment with Georgetown’s Northern California admissions representative, Bruce Chamberlain. For approximately half an hour, we talked to Mr. Chamberlain, or Bruce as he told us to call him, about Georgetown. Bruce was very direct in pointing out Georgetown’s strengths (a long history, very strong political science programs, location only miles from our nation’s capitol, the fact that almost 90% of students serve in an internship during their time at Georgetown, and much more).

What I really appreciated however was that he seemed very interested that we each find what college we truly want to study at. Instead of emulating the role of a salesman and only presenting Georgetown’s strengths, Bruce was also very open about discussing colleges similar to Georgetown, and why they might be better or worse fits for each of us. Bruce also expressed that he feels that too many applicants blindly attempt to show that they are “well rounded” in their applications instead of displaying a strong passion for one area of learning, which he believes is very important. All in all, I found our conversation very refreshing and enlightening.

After this meeting, we went to the general admissions talk, where the presenter showed an extensive slide show about Georgetown. Something that caught my eye here was that over 50% of Georgetown students study abroad during their four years at Georgetown. I think that studying abroad sounds very interesting, so learning that the majority of Georgetown students study abroad was very appealing. In my opinion, all colleges should require that their students study abroad at some point during their college life so that students can both expose themselves to other cultures and learn to appreciate how privileged they are to live in the U.S.

Also on the theme of the importance of understanding other cultures, after lunch, we visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum. This most recent school year, I had the privilege of taking a World War II history class at my high school. The course is written and taught by Marsha Hebden, who has taught me and hundreds of other students about World War II and the Holocaust. Although I already have a strong knowledge of World War II history, there was tons to learn, and in particular the propaganda exhibit was very informative. In particular, a question posed at the end of the exhibit will stick with me for a long time. The question was, “What limits should there be on speech, and what are the costs of imposing them?” Of course there is no one answer, but I think it’s an important idea to think about.

After an emotional few hours at the Holocaust Museum, we decided on a change of pace, and we took a fun and touristy ride on a double-decker bus. The weather today was beautiful, and it was enjoyable to sit back and soak in all of the attractions in town.
A Fun Bus Ride (Photo thanks to Alex Elms)
Finally, we headed back to Georgetown (neighborhood, not the university), and after a few minutes of looking at various restaurants, we settled on a place called Mr. Smith’s. Once again, we each enjoyed a delicious meal. I had a large cheeseburger, and there was some killer chocolate cake for desert. Now, I’m all set for our train ride to Philadelphia early tomorrow morning.
A Delicious Dinner (Photo thanks to Alex Elms)

1 comment:

  1. Brian,

    Okay, before we get into the meat of your blog, what's with the photo from the bus? Did Alex learn something new in his photo editing software? Your faces look like zombies.

    And what's with your choice of dinner fare? We send you completely across the country and you order a burger for dinner? What would your mother say to that? Ya gotta be creative, Brian.

    Even though there are tons of books about the Holocaust and even the Holocaust Museum, I would have loved to have seen some photos from your time there--especially if some of you were in them.

    I've talked and written quite a bit about how admissions officers often come across as salesmen in their presentations and while many of these presentations make an impact, this different approach seems to have had more of an impact simply because it was more than a sales pitch.

    Twenty-five years ago the idea of study abroad programs were popular mostly because it gave upper crust students a chance to vacation in Europe under the guise of education. With today's world being as flat as it is with people, countries and cultures being so interdependent on each other, understanding the people and cultures of other countries is vital to a person's success. When we have a better understanding of each other it helps to prevent wars, it smoothes relations and promotes business and harmony.

    At the same time, though, just attending a college in a different part of our own country helps, too. When interviewing applicants for this program we often ask a question about experiencing new cultures when you attend these schools and almost all of the applicants think we're talking about being around foreign students when, in fact, we're talking about the cultures of people from different parts of the US. The people of the Bay Area are vastly different from the people of Boston, New York, Atlanta, Montana and New Orleans. How can we think we know it all when we don't even understand how our neighbors think?