Most of us have been looking forward to this week for months. A whole week in the capital with 250 other students, talking about interesting topics and making connections that will come in handy in the future. After sitting in the car or on a plane, alone with our thoughts, most of us probably worried about making friends, fitting in, and not making ourselves look stupid. Shortly after getting here, I can say for myself, I had nothing to worry about. Everyone has been welcoming and nice. Upon getting here, I hit the ground running, the rest of the day is full of meetings and speakers. The schedule for the next six days is packed with meetings, speakers, and events, can I keep up?
The first speaker of the night is David Culver, a Cuban-American news anchor that covered the U.S. and Cuba establishing peace. He brought his mother and grandmother back to Cuba, they hadn’t been home since the 1960’s. While there with them, he documented their travels and reunions. Later, he would return to cover the Cuban lifestyle and the major changes since the 1960’s. He then goes on to talking about how he got to where he is today. He never stayed on his original path, but still reached his original destination, a news anchor. The message I will take away from this speaker is, it’s okay to veer off from the original path, you can still reach your original destination. Also, when talking about the hard days at the office, when looking back on the week, the good will always weigh out the bad.
“There ain’t no rest for the wicked until we close our eyes for good.” -Cage the Elephants. It is another jam-packed day. We start the day with a trip into the city to visit the Newseum, a museum about the daily news (I thought it was clever). This is probably one of my favorite museums because it’s showcasing something I’m interested in, and I know most of the history presented in the museum. My favorite exhibit was the Pulitzer Prize for photography. I’ve never seen an exhibit with so many heart-wrenching photographs and covering a wide variety of points throughout history. The most interesting thing I learned from the Newseum is, most people don’t know all five elements to the first amendment.
After the Newseum, we make the few mile journey to the National Press Club in downtown Washington. Thankfully, traffic was not too bad, the journey wasn’t long. Over a century ago, James Hay and Graham founded the National Press Club as a retreat for Washington reporters. Now, it hosts many conferences for presidents, kings and queens, movie stars, and House members.
Today, we get to listen to successful reporters and editors. They cover current issues, the upcoming presidential race, cause and effect, and our own questions. Undeniably, I can say it was an interesting discussion, and I am grateful to be able to hear from these people.
Our keynote speaker for the night is Terry Anderson, a Middle East war correspondent for the Associate Press. He is an author of the bestselling book, “Den of Lions,” he tells about being held hostage in Lebanon for seven years. Now retired, he frequently talks about journalism, the Middle East, and public affairs. He has numerous awards and is a founder of the Vietnam Children’s Fund. This fund has built 50 schools in Vietnam in the last 20 years. Today, he speaks to us about what journalism really is, he says, “I don’t need to tell you if these are good people or bad people. All I need to tell you is what they did.” It’s not about telling people what to think, it’s about showing people the truth. He also talks about his days as a war correspondent, and is brutally honest when he says, “it’s a hard job”. However, Terry Anderson is very inspiring. It was a good thing to end the day with, it was a great story to process and think about for the next few hours.