Friday January 9th was a particularly hectic day for the U.S. Politics class; we had a set agenda to visit and meet with people at three different locations in a cold, and rainy DC. However, the meetings made up for the weather and so many cool things were learned! In the morning, we met with Jennifer Benbow who gave the class a tour of the British Embassy, Matt Mazonkey, and Jonno Evans. Both Matt and Jonno talked with the class about their different jobs and how current U.S. national issues affects our relationship with the U.K. and the national issues there as well. I learned that Brits and the U.S. are probably the strongest allies in the world, that the embassy in DC consists of about 1/2 Brits and 1/2 Americans, and the similarities vs. differences between the U.S. government and British government. As someone who has lived in Europe for a total of eight years of my life, hearing the speakers discuss hot topic national issues and how it affects our relationship with Europe as a whole was appreciated.
After coming back to the D.C. Office we had lunch with William & Mary Rector Todd Stottylemeyer, who is Chair of the Governing Board for the College. His jobs includes hire and fire, who receives tenure, regulating and approving budgets, and leading the President of the College in a strategic direction so that W&M remains a successful, well-run educational institution. Although not directly related to U.S. national politics, all the students were excited to be learning about our university and there were many concerns and questions (i.e. parking issues for off-campus students, lack of housing available to international students, tuition prices, etc.) that came up that Todd was happy to address or note to bring to the Board. One thing I learned from the rector that really shocked me is that as a public university W&M receives only 10% of its dollars from the state, which used to be 50% when he himself was an undergraduate student at W&M (class of 1985), and this percentage is continuing to dwindle. In order for W&M to keep its pristine reputation as a remarkable state university and to continue to employ an exceptional teaching staff, it will have to rely more and more on philanthropy.
After lunch, we had another speaker come in – Holger Stark who writes for the popular German weekly news magazine Der Spiegel. Holger came into his presentation with notes and was very prepared. He gave a wonderful introduction as to how current national political issues affect Germany and our relationship with them. It was perfect since we had just learned earlier in the day about the U.K. and U.S. relationship, so it was interesting to hear how our domestic issues affect international affairs in two European countries.