Challenging. Inspiring. Motivating. Relaxing. Informative. These are just a few of the words that describe the week that I just spent in Washington, DC and the areas around it. It is hard to believe that I am back now, but I feel like I left a piece of myself behind there. I’d like to return soon to reclaim it, for in my time spent there I found its residents to be both welcoming and helpful, often offering assistance without even being asked. During the Avon Walk we traversed through the National Mall, Capitol Hill, then later on to Georgetown and through the town of Chevy Chase, Maryland before ending at a park in Silver Springs. And I spent four days in Alexandria, Virginia– a charming town that I would love to explore more.
We spent some time exploring DC before the Walk, wandering around the area and also stopping at the White House for a photo-op. During check-in on Friday I asked a DC local what was one place she’d recommend that was slightly off the beaten path, or not a typical tourist attraction. She suggested the Renwick Gallery, which is one of the Smithsonian Museums. She couldn’t remember exactly where it was, but later that day when my dad and I were walking around we stumbled upon it, and so decided to wander in. I remembered her telling me that one of the exhibits had lit her hair on fire, and that had piqued my interest. As I walked from room to room, I asked myself which one it was, and when I finally came upon it, I immediately knew. Or at least I think it did, because there were so many amazing exhibits to select from.
Another very memorable museum was the Newseum, a 250,000 spare foot structure that houses the most fascinating exhibits relating to news and its ability to shape the world. My parents and I explored six floors of often interactive displays relating to news both past and present. I think of all that we saw my favorite exhibit was that of Pulitzer-Prize winning photos throughout the ages. Beside each photo was an explanation of how the photographer was able to get “the shot,” and often a follow-up of what happened to the subject(s) after the photo was taken. I found myself wanting to read every single word next to each photo, so immersed I was in these glimpses of the past, often relating to important world events.
We were also drawn to an exhibit about the Berlin Wall, and the Newseum has the largest piece of it outside of Germany. There was a guard tower too, and it was chilling to walk around and read the signs, the stories of people who had died trying to escape East Berlin, and to witness the distinct difference between the east and west sides of the wall– the west side flowered with graffiti while the east side was stark and untouched. My parents and I reminisced about our time in Berlin after the Wall came down, how my dad bought a Russian hat there that he stills brings out upon occasion. I also remembered how I had visited East Berlin after the Wall came down and toured the area with a friend who lived there. It was a startling reminder of a time in history that many would soon forget, although it is important to remember it.