Hey everyone! My name is Corinne and I’m a fellow at the W&M DC Summer Institute on American Politics. We’ve just wrapped up our first week here in D.C. and it’s already been a whirlwind of an adventure. I can’t wait to share it all with you!
First, a little about myself: I’m a rising senior majoring in Government and minoring in Creative Writing. I knew I wanted to do the DC Summer Institute before I even knew if I was accepted to W&M. I’m very much looking forward to studying with students who are just as passionate about politics as I am, interning at a D.C. headquarters, and doing all the touristy things I can possibly fit into a short summer. I’m an out-of-state student from Vermont, so this program is the perfect way for me to experience all that both W&M and Washington D.C. have to offer.
This year the American Politics Institute is studying polarization, and it’s a crazy time to be doing so in DC: it seems that every night we’ve been here so far, some new development occurs in the Trump-Russia investigation. The following morning, we hear from speakers from diverse professional backgrounds (we’ve heard from the Associated Press, the Sunlight Foundation, the Alliance for Justice, the Congressional Research Service, and so much more). These speakers always have lots to say about the recent developments, so I really feel like I’m getting an inside-scoop of politics in D.C.
For someone who loves being intellectually stimulated, this week has been totally awesome. Our speakers usually only introduce themselves for 20 minutes or so, but then spend another hour answering our questions, which means we can really direct the conversation toward the topics we’re most interested in. We also have the chance to debate amongst each other after our speakers leave, and I’ve been really impressed with the caliber of our discussions. I feel so lucky to be having this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
One of the many, many highlights from this past week was a sunset tour of the Capitol led by former Senator Chet Edwards. He told us incredible stories (like meeting Rosa Parks and Bill Gates in the same day) and had really profound insights on the challenges congressmen face. We even got to sit in the chairs on the Senate floor, so I can now cross that off of the bucket list!
This first week of class has been ridiculously action-packed and I’m so glad we still have one more to go. After that, we’ll all start our internships! So stay tuned 🙂