In the Capitol: Students Experience Real Politics in Washington DC

Montclair State students travel to Washington DC for a seminar, and stay for the inauguration ceremony.

[Click on the image above to view an audio slide show of the Washington DC trip]

Fifteen students from Montclair State University recently traveled to Washington DC to participate in a ten-day seminar presented by the Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars. Featuring high-profile guest speakers and site visits to places such as embassies, nonprofit groups, and Capitol Hill, the program provided the students ample opportunity to learn, and to experience life in the nation’s capitol.

“This program brings together all the important elements of experiential education—interaction with decision makers, discussion with professionals and highly motivated students interested in the field, as well as the opportunity to network and make key contacts,” says Bryan Murdock, Director of Experiential Education and the faculty leader of the Montclair State delegation. “These elements enhance learning beyond the traditional classroom experience.”

Joining other college and university students from around the country, the Montclair State delegation spent the ten days learning about how things are done in Washington and about the impact of media on American politics. Speakers included many well-known Washington insiders such as Dana Perino, the White House Press Secretary for George W. Bush, Ted Koppel, the former anchor of NBC’s “Nightline,” and Bob Schieffer, CBS Evening News Anchor and moderator of “Face the Nation.”

“I’d always seen Ted Koppel on TV and Dana Perino speaking, and when I saw…that they were scheduled to speak, I realized what a prestigious program this is and that I was really on something pretty special,” says sophomore participant Kyle Peters. “To hear them speak was really quite amazing.”

Most of the students capped their Washington DC experience by attending the Presidential Inauguration on January 20. Eight were able to obtain tickets and view the proceedings from a special section while the rest joined the estimated 1.8 million other spectators on the Mall. It was an exciting day for everyone there, and a fitting close to an experience that few of the delegation will soon forget.

“For many of the students, this was their first visit to Washington DC and their first opportunity to have a bird’s-eye view of the national political arena,” explains Murdock. “While I think it’s terrific that so many of our students took part in the program during this exciting time in history, what's most exciting is to have witnessed the truly transformative effect it had on the students.”

Click here to view the audio slide show in a larger format.