Perception and the Pentagon (Monday, Day 05)

The group was excited to begin our week of site visits this afternoon. Today we had the Pentagon, tomorrow the Eisenhower Executive Office Building/Capital Hill, and Wednesday the World Bank. Thursday we will be in-house for our final day, but we are all excited to hear from former FBI Director James Comey on “Principles v. Principals” to wrap up our time here in Washington. 

aerial view of the Pentagon building in Washington DC

People took their off day, yesterday, differently. A few got up early to see family, Professor Tierney caught a play at the Kennedy Center, I went on a long run around the monuments, and some of our over-21-year-olds discovered an enticing bottomless mimosa brunch. Finally, Comet Ping Pong, the infamous pizza parlor where a misguided man believed Hillary Clinton was headquartering a child sex ring, held a stand-up comedy show many students attended. 

This morning, we heard from Wade Warren, the former acting Director of USAID. He is now in the private sector with Deloitte as their Chief Strategy Officer for International Development. From this, we talked about the biggest issues facing international development and the American approach to aid. 

Interestingly, for the fourth time this week we’ve heard the U.S. public believes foreign assistance is some 10/20/50% of our GDP, when it is, in reality, below 1%. Responding to this, I asked if there were education campaigns ongoing to teach, one, that our aid assistance is minuscule and, two, that in comparison to other developed nations, the United States actually ranks relatively low by percentage of GDP for development. Unfortunately, it will take time for this issue to be correctly understood as it is so easy to politicize. 

William & Mary winter seminar students in the Washington Center

We spent our entire afternoon in the Pentagon, hearing from Tribe alumna Theresa Whelan (Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Global Security) on security-focus Policy making, before asking questions to a panel of LTC Greg Tomlin, Col Chip Daniels, and Col Teri Noffsinger (all serving on the Joint Staff) about Civil-Military Relations. Afterwards, we got a tour of the Pentagon and its many corridors.

To end the day, all of William & Mary’s Winter Seminar classes came together for a speed networking dinner. It’s been fascinating to hear about the careers of so many successful Washington-insiders over the past week. The university seems to have a stronghold on D.C., which is incredibly encouraging for us younger members of the Tribe looking to get in on the action soon.

Go Tribe, 

Caleb T. Rogers ‘20

Categories: Academics, Student Blogs, Study Away, W&M in Washington
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