On Friday, August 5, 2022, a handful of hand-selected students embarked on an end-of-summer field trip to Washington DC where they engaged in a plethora of educational, cultural, and socially enriching activities with the aid of YES staff, interns, and parent chaperones. We left the office at 6:00 AM on Friday, August 5th, and began our journey to DC and as the students and chaperones boarded the bus, they scanned a QR code that sent them to a Google Forms survey where they entered their meal selections for breakfast at McDonald’s. Once we arrived at McDonald’s, the importance and significance of the chaperones being present was exhibited as retrieving and distributing the breakfast was a team effort. Some chaperones entered the McDonald’s to retrieve the breakfast and handed it off to the chaperones on the bus to distribute it to the students and ensure that each student received what they requested on the form they completed during boarding.
Once we arrived in DC, we offloaded in front of the Capitol Building where we took a quick water break before we took a quick walk in the area since we had quite a bit of time to enter the Capitol Building. Once we finished and prepared to enter the Capitol Building, we first separated into groups then we proceed to go through security. From there, we were escorted to the Capitol Building’s rotunda by Senator Bob Casey’s aids where we were then introduced to Bob Casey himself. He discussed the Inflation Reduction Bill Congress was voting on in a manner that the students fully understood and expressed that he was confident in the passage through the Senate. We then captured group photos and I personally captured candid photos of the senator with one of the students as well as some individual candid portraits.
After departing the Capitol, we boarded the bus and headed toward the Chili Bowl for lunch and an opportunity to enjoy the fresh air and stretch our legs. Then we proceeded to the National Museum of African-American History & Culture for a self-guided exhibit experience. There were a plethora of exhibits that I personally found intriguing, especially the Photography in Hip Hop exhibits as well as the Black Lives Matter exhibit. There was even an exhibit dedicated to Black film, tv, theatre, and journalism throughout the decades. Once we left the museum, we headed to Carolina Kitchen in Maryland for dinner. There were a plethora of different soul food options available and the quality of food there could honestly be compared to a homecooked meal. Then we headed to the hotel for check-in where we had an hour of free time before we headed to bed for the activity-packed day we had coming up.
Our second day in DC started with a dine-in breakfast at McDonald’s on the Howard University campus where we then proceeded to do a self-guided tour of Howard, but unfortunately, the campus was closed, so we were unable to enter any of the facilities. However, we saw some of the AKAs practicing and I’m assuming a film student since she had a camera inside a stabilization cage. Nonetheless, it was an invaluable experience for me personally since Howard is currently my top pick college to transfer to. After the tour was over, we headed to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) which was an extremely solemn experience, unlike all the other activities and locations we participated in and visited prior. Upon arrival, we were presented with an information card about someone who was in the Holocaust and we would be able to find out if they survived or if their life was taken as a result of some of the atrocities that were taking place during that horrific period in human history. There was a particular exhibit that caught my eye and moved me unlike others did. There was a section in the museum that had hundreds, if not thousands, of shoes that belonged to the victims of concentration camps. After we departed the USHMM, we crossed the street to sit and enjoy lunch catered by Jimmy John’s on an open field. From there, we took the bus to the Lincoln Memorial and enjoyed some time there before heading to the MLK Memorial which was about a twenty-minute walk. Here, we read the walls since they had different quotes by Dr. King and other relevant information. Then we took a group photo before heading to the bus going to the National Museum of the American Indian. We divided into groups as we have for all previous museums and stayed for about an hour and a half before departing back to the hotels after a long and active day. At the hotel, we had the opportunity to get ready for dinner and free time which was going to be at the National Harbor in Maryland at 7:00PM. The students ventured off into their own groups and explored the National Harbor for their options or any other activities in the area before we met back at the bus around 9:30PM and we arrived back at the hotel at 10:00PM for the night and this concluded our second and final night at the hotel.
Our third & final day in DC started with us loading the bus back up with out luggage and arrived to Golden Corral for a buffet-style breakfast at 9:00AM. Students had the option to get whatever they wanted which was nice, including the frozen yogurt which seemed to be a popular selection. We left around 10:15AM and headed to our final attraction on the trip, the Anacostia Community Museum, before departing for Breezewood then Pittsburgh. The Anacostia Community Museum was more interactive than the rest and it allowed the students to engage in critical thinking about food, food waste, as well as letting them form their own opinions about government intervention and aid to food access with programs such as food stamps being a common talking point. We departed for Breezewood where we stopped for lunch at their rest stop that had a plethora of options. After departing, we headed straight for Pittsburgh and arrived at the YES Office around 5:00PM where we unloaded the bus. The students got in their ride home, and the YES DC Trip was officially over!