So, I promised to write about my trip. From June twelfth through June nineteenth I wasn’t home. Instead, I was exploring places like Gettysburg and Washington, D.C!
I traveled there as part of a program known as the NRECA’s Youth Tour. (NRECA is short for National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.) Basically, the company that provides our electricity sponsored this trip.
If you have read my blog for a while you’re probably thinking, “But, nevillegirl… that sounds very science-y and you’re not science-y at all!” You’re right. I’m not. I like science/technology stuff but I’m not very good at it and it’s not my intended career field.
But the trip wasn’t just about learning about electricity. We also learned about leadership and government, two interests of mine. Plus, I just like D.C. – this trip was my third to that city.
I’m very grateful to have attended the Youth Tour. I found out about this opportunity back in sixth grade and hoped that someday I would be selected as a participant. I WAS SO EXCITED WHEN I GOT THE ACCEPTANCE LETTER.
My state, Indiana, sent a total of seventy-two high school juniors and during the eight days of our trip we saw and did some amazing things. Here are six of my favorite memories from the Youth Tour.
1. Flight 93 Memorial
This was the first of many monuments that my group visited. It’s in the-middle-of-nowhere, Pennsylvania – not much is there besides farm fields, like the one on which the monument was constructed. It memorializes the only hijacked plane that did not reach its target on 9/11.
The Memorial’s design is similar to that of the Vietnam Wall: just a long, low, black wall. And as at the Wall, some people leave objects there in memorial of those who died. I walked about a quarter-mile to the end of the memorial and then ran back along with lots of other people due to the biggest sudden downpour I’ve ever seen.
2. Boat cruise on the Potomac River and geeking out with a brand-new friend
This was neat because, in addition to seeing lots of the monuments for the fifty-kazillionth time, I made a new friend. I made probably only four new friends out of all the kids from Indiana (plus tons and tons of kids from other states). This isn’t meant to reflect poorly on the other kids – all of them were nice. I’m a very introverted person, that’s all, and so it takes me a while to connect with other people.
I probably would’ve spent the boat trip sitting by myself, watching other kids dance and hang out, had I not noticed a girl with a Doctor Who-themed tattoo. I asked her about it and three hours flew by as we talked about fandoms and the trip and all sorts of things. THANK YOU. YOU’RE COOL AND I LOVE MEETING OTHER NERDS.
3. Rally Day
On Rally Day, all the states’ groups met to learn about electric cooperatives and leadership. One thousand, one hundred and sixty teenagers were packed into one huge room and the noise we made was TREMENDOUS.
4. The Pentagon and Pentagon Memorial
I’ve seen both of these once before but I think this second time was better for two reasons. First of all, the Pentagon is huge. HUGE. I don’t think you can understand how huge it is until you’ve seen it with your own eyes. Each side of the building stretches on and on and on. It’s really cool.
Secondly, the Pentagon’s own 9/11 memorial is located at one of the five corners. It’s beautiful and peaceful. When I was there previously it was daytime. Don’t visit during the day – visit at night.
The memorial contains one hundred and eighty-four benches, one for each of the people who died, and below each bench is a small pool. At night – and here’s why you should visit it then – the benches are lit from beneath. It’s a very serene place to be, with all those lights and the water gurgling softly. It’s not massive and imposing like Lincoln’s and Jefferson’s monuments, but then it doesn’t need to be. I could sit there contentedly forever, just thinking.
5. Meeting members of Congress
Nine or ten senators and representatives from the state of Indiana spoke to us one afternoon. I was impressed because A) it’s not every day that you meet a member of Congress and B) I felt that nearly all the people were very cooperative.
One guy was kind of weird and belligerent but otherwise everyone seemed to be trying very hard to be bipartisan. I like that. I wish that happened more often.
6. The Newseum
Some day, I want to be – among many other things – a journalist. You can therefore imagine how much I looked forward to visiting this museum. My group spent only a few hours there, but I would have happily stayed all day. Or possibly for several days.
I can’t possibly list all the things I saw there so I’ll just tell you about my favorite: the photography exhibits. There were two, one for Pulitzer Prize-winning photos from throughout the years and one for the “pictures of the year” – images from the major events of 2013.
I was fascinated because those photos were so different from the images I capture. I usually take pictures of buildings and flowers and animals. I don’t photograph war and poverty. It made me think. It made me wonder what sort of photojournalism I would like to do someday.
I had a blast during the Youth Tour. I met some cool people, visited and re-visited a variety of interesting places, and made a lot of great memories!