It was our last day of classes for the W&M DC Summer Institute – but the first day we weren’t dressed in business attire! Ironically enough, the one day we were without three-piece-suits and blazers just happened to be the coldest day of May thus far. It’s the kind of thing that happens to me all of the time,but I’m not sure about the rest of the Fellows – I’d hate to think my luck was responsible…but it most likely was.
We met at the Washington office, shivering, but excited to discuss national security issues (and to attend the afternoon picnic). With the chilly weather, we weren’t certain whether there would be a picnic – but we were keeping our fingers crossed.
The last class was centered around review. Professor Floyd led a discussion where we talked about every speaker we had, every site we visited and every opinion we held about the program. It’s safe to say that the National Security Summer Institute satisfied its students. We mostly gushed about our past experiences, laughing at certain memories and recounting specific moments. It was astounding, thinking through all of the things we did in such a short period of time. I know I’ve said that in several of my blogs, but it’s true! I think Professor Floyd must have a time turner (yes, the Harry Potter reference was unavoidable).
After going over the past two weeks, our class had a conversation about U.S. primacy in today’s world: is it sustainable? Is it desirable? Every person spoke his/her opinion about the matter and it was great to hear everyone’s unique views. Some thought China didn’t stand a chance against U.S. power; others thought U.S. primacy required too much responsibility; and many viewed history to be a continuously-moving cycle, ensuring America’s eventual decline. It was quite a stimulating roundtable, and I was happy to hear Floyd say that she was “proud.”
After class, all of the Summer Institutes convened for a session on professionalism in the workplace. In preparation for our internships, this meeting provided us tips on how to dress and behave in office environments. My favorite tip was to regulate your sleep schedule. As students, we’re used to staying up late doing assignments and then crashing after class. This pattern just doesn’t cut it in the workforce: you get up early and you have to stay up. Those who don’t take the time to get enough sleep may end up dozing off on the job (gasp!) or having to drink several coffees just to get through the day. I noted this advice because I already drink one coffee a day to be productive – I didn’t want to become ninety percent caffeine this summer. Therefore, this sit-down was quite beneficial. I appreciated it.
Finally, it was time for the picnic. Despite the frigid breeze, we trudged out to the only field I’ve seen in D.C. and ate a variety of wraps, hotdogs, mini burgers, pasta salad and fruit. It was absolutely delicious. There were also several outdoor game options – but due to the cold weather, a majority of the National Security Fellows left after chowing down (much to the disappointment of the Leadership and Community Engagement Fellows).
It was a great last day. Entering into the Memorial Day weekend, we had a lot to contemplate: national security topics, our internships, and a new summer routine. From traveling in a pack, to being on our own; from having a set syllabus, to being at the mercy of our supervisors; from being in a classroom, to living an actual D.C. life, there was an obvious beginning to this ending; and I’m sure we’ll take D.C. by storm.