Springtime in D.C, the Place to Be

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Unfortunately, this entry has been saved as a draft for about a week now. Luckily, I realized this today and I must apologize for the delay. Two weeks ago, we were walking through CIA headquarters around now. It is amazing how fast time goes by, but I can say that I tried to enjoy and appreciate every moment of our incredible trip to Washington, DC.

The CIA simulation that took place on Saturday was fantastic. I was uncertain of what to expect, but was extremely happy that I attended. At first, when my group was presented the situation and question, I was totally overwhelmed. I thought, "I have no knowledge of Korean territory and barely understand much of what we were just presented." However, within just a few short minutes the information became clearer, my group dove into great conversation, and I felt like we were really onto something good. By the end of the time, I felt a great sense of accomplishment. It was an incredible experience to stand before a CIA official and make a presentation on an issue that just two hours prior I had no expertise on and was extremely uncomfortable about. I left the Penn Stater with a huge smile on my face feeling like I could really do anything that I set my mind and heart to accomplishing.

Just when I thought the weekend could not get any better, we arrived in Washington, D.C. and once again, I was overwhelmed with emotion. The city is unlike any other I have been to in the United States. The streets are wider and cleaner, the buildings grander, and the tone seems quite different from that of New York or Philadelphia.

I had never been to the Melting Pot and thought that it was a very unique restaurant that provided a great environment for interacting and really bonding with my fellow peers and mentors. I was slightly disappointed by our tour in the Holocaust Museum. I know that our time was limited and therefore, we could not go into great depth; however, I felt my guide lacked a great deal of knowledge and sympathy when conducting the tour. I enjoyed Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Israel, much more because I felt its layout was more symbolic of the tragedy. In that museum, one side is very dark and narrow, but as you weave in and out of its rooms, you eventually end in a much wider and brighter room with an incredible balcony that looks out onto mountains and vegetation, which symbolizes more of where the Jewish people are today mentally and emotionally. I intend on going back to D.C.'s museum to uncover the many details and rooms that I may have missed during our short time there. Sunday evening's dinner at the Old Ebitt Grill was fantastic. I enjoyed both the salmon as well as the speech given by Admiral Cohen. Like many of the accomplished people we have met, he was so laid back and seemed like a fantastic man. When we returned to the hotel, I had a great conversation with my roommate Celia and felt really content as the day came to an end.

The walk to FBI headquarters on Monday morning was so refreshing. The sun was shining and the buildings were glistening. It was such a wonderful, energizing way to start the day. The building itself was like a huge maze; every hallway looked the same, lacking color and warmth. The speakers were interesting and compelled by interest greatly. I found Mr. Chabinsky to be my favorite guest of the morning mostly because what he discussed, cyber security, I could relate to best as it most directly relates to my own life. I had never really considered the dangers in using Wi-Fi in a public place such as Starbucks. Mr. Chabinsky opened my eyes to many issues and threats that are so important and yet I had no knowledge of prior to this trip. Our afternoon at the CIA was equally as interesting. As we walked through the massive building, I could not quite grasp the fact that I was strolling through an area that many people would never fathom visiting. Listening to the daily agenda's of the employees was both overwhelming and fascinating. While I do not think I am cut out to work in such a place, I admire those that do. Their contribution to the country is phenomenal.

While NYC was an amazing trip, I have to say that I think Washington, D.C. topped it! I can't even imagine what is in store for next year, but if this trend continues, I know I will be blown away yet again. Thank you so much to Ed and Helen Hintz, President Spanier, Dean Brady, Melissa, and Lisa for funding, organizing, and facilitating this once in a lifetime experience. I cannot put into words how grateful I am for the opportunities this Academy has provided me. 


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