Friday, January 21, 2011

Our Washington DC Trip

One of the requirements for students at my children's high school is that they job shadow someone in an occupation they are interested in their junior and senior years. Most kids pick an easy local person or family friend and rush through it. My kids are a little different, thanks to my job. Arielle job shadowed with the State Governor's office her first year and with the local sheriff the second year. Trevor wanted to job shadow the President, but I have no contacts at the White House, so he had to pick someone else. In the end, he decided to be with Congressman Glenn Thompson, the representative for the 5th Congressional District of Penna.

We left for Washington DC on Tuesday morning and he was scheduled to spend Wednesday with the Congressman, then we drove home yesterday. The six-hour drive is too much for me to do in one day, so staying was mandatory. We found a nice hotel in Georgetown. It wasn't near the MetroRail line, but the hotel provided a van to drive us there.

We went to Hard Rock Cafe for dinner on Tuesday night. I love to collect their pins and charms, so I couldn't miss the opportunity to add to my collection. Of course, my charm bracelet was stolen at Holiday Valley, so I had to buy a new one and now try to replace all the charms that were on it. Anyone who lives near a HRC or travels by one, I'll gladly pay all costs for a guitar pick charm to add to the bracelet.

I spoke with his staff several times before we arrived. They put together a full day of meetings, tours and an interview with the Congressman. They suggested we use the MetroRail rather than try to drive. It was a first for Trevor to ever use a system like that. He looked so handsome in his new suit and newspaper. Like the young gentleman he is, he stood and let me have the seat. The trip took about 15 minutes and let us out right below the House of Representatives' office building. After going through security, we found the right off and were greeted by everyone. The Congressman was in a private meeting for members only, so they sent us down to get breakfast in the cafeteria. When we got back, Trevor was given a brief history of the Capital and House.

Randy and I were ready to go off to tour the City while Trevor worked when Glenn walked in. He smiled and said he never put the name together to realize Trevor was my son, but he was happy to have him there. He then asked if we'd like to tour the Capital with them. He had a meeting that would take about an hour, so Trevor was going in there and Randy and I went to the gift shop to spend some time. We got a call that the tour had just started, but they were going to escort us to meet Trevor and Glenn.

The tour was wonderful. We were in the private gallery to hear debate on healthcare. Glenn gave his thoughts on the issue and then left the floor and continued the tour. Being with the Congressman allowed us to go places the rest of the public couldn't go. We went out on the Speaker of the House's balcony. What a gorgeous view! It's the best in the City, we were told and it sure was true. After that, he took us for lunch in the private members only resteraunt. The food was excellent!

Trevor was given a half hour to interview Glenn and ask anything he wanted. Randy and I sat in with that session and also added our questions. As a reporter, how could I not take advantage of that opportunity and Randy also had some questions for one of the most powerful men in our State. After that, he had one more meeting that Trevor sat in while Randy and I spoke to the press liasons. That was a great way to spend time.

After the meeting, Glenn gave Trevor a few little mementos of his visit and off we went. There was a protestor outside the Capital harassing Congressmen as they went into the building. A police officer with a riot shotgun was present to make sure the protestor only used words. Coming from a small town, it's not something we're use to seeing, but brings home exactly how dangerous their jobs could be.

We got on the MetroRail and decided to see the White House and get a few photos. The front was comletely blocked off. It took us a few minutes to walk to the back and there were riot police there as well. The Chinese President was in town and there were dozens of protestors there. They were shouting and holding signs urging President Hu to let Taiwan be a free country. There were snipers on the roof of the White House. Another very scary sight for small town residents.

International press were all over the area taking photos and interviewing the protestors. I took a bunch of photos as well, but didn't have time for interviews. My Mandarin Chinese isn't very good to begin with, so I stuck with images only. Some of the protestors covered their faces, Randy explained to Trevor that they were doing that to protect their families back in China and Taiwan. Living in America, we don't have to worry about our families being punished or killed if we protest against anything. That's what living in a free country is all about. There are too many countries where people don't have that right. They can't do something as simple as log onto the internet and read the latest Hollywood gossip on Perez Hilton's blog. Our country might not be perfect and there are a lot of things that need changed, but at least we have a basic sense of freedom. We have the right to protest and not worry about being beaten to death. I'm a reporter and can write what I want and not worry about ending up in prison when I offend someone in power.

We didn't have the chance to visit all the fun places we wanted to, but it was still a wonderful trip. We were given the chance to tour the House of Representatives and the Capital building in ways most visitors never will. Something as simple as buying a parking ticket was new for us.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a wonderful experience for all of you!

7:28 PM  
Blogger JennyD said...

What a great experience Trevor had! Gretchen, the picture of him at the doorway -- look at it closely. Doesn't he remind you of a young Patrick Dempsey? WoooBoy, look out girls!
When I got to the section about the Chinese president and the snipers on the roof, I swear I got chills. That is a scary thing. I agree with you completely about this country. We might have a lot to fix, but I sure wouldn't want to live anywhere else. Like the old saying goes, "land of the free and home of the brave".

11:18 PM  

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