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Taking A Tour

Yesterday afternoon, I just caught this segment on Tell Me More. Particularly at this time of year, tourism is such a regular part of life here in the capitol. But I often forget how the city appears for the first time. Check out this perspective from a Michigan teacher who leads an annual field trip to DC:

MILLER: Well, it’s a great opportunity for me to be able to take them on this trip that for some of them it might be the only opportunity to see our nation’s capital. And I think it’s a great opportunity for them to be able to see our nation at work.

He also highlights the power of seeing government in action and jumping into history:

MILLER: [...] you know, some of the students are still young. Of course they’re just getting out of 8th grade. They’re getting ready for high school. Still not deciding what career path they want to take. And so they see a lot of different opportunities in DC. We do meet with the senator in the senator’s office. And a lot of the interns there give them insight of, you know, hey, I was in high school and started working here and took a summer trip just like you guys did.

I think it gives them a good opportunity to see other jobs that are out there. And hey, one these days maybe they’ll be our only — maybe they’ll be our state senator if somebody takes the political pathway.

To build upon Mr. Miller’s point, a single trip to DC can have a true, lasting impact on a young visitor. But what about young students who live just a few miles (or blocks) from the monuments? DC and the surrounding areas offer some incredible learning opportunities and most of them do not cost anything. How can we ensure that students of all backgrounds have a chance to meet their representatives, to visit historical sites in their areas, and when the time comes, say, to register to vote? Understanding of local and federal government can be so empowering and barriers to that understanding are certainly surmountable. So how do we spread awareness of all that DC has to offer to locals, as well as visitors?

(For ideas, learn more about the US Capitol Historical Society right here.)

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