Hilltop on the Hill in Washington

In fall 2009, 17 Journalism and Corporate Communications & Public Affairs students are studying in Washington, D.C., in October for the Hilltop on The Hill 2009 program.

Strong emotions at the Holocaust Museum

CIMG0594.jpg An update from senior CCPA major Michelle:

Voth.png The first place we visited was the Holocaust Museum. Before we left for the museum, Dr. Ben Voth spoke about how he has helped Holocaust survivors speak about their experiences. His talk was very moving and brought me deeper into the story of the museum. He told of an emotional interaction with a survivor that brought tears to his eyes.

When we got to the museum, we entered a packed elevator that symbolizes the Jewish people being packed into box cars. We learned about the history of the Nazi party and how the Holocaust started.

We stopped at a video of survivors telling their stories. One particular interview really caught me emotionally. A Jewish man was speaking about how he was in a train car and was nearly dead. “I’m not going to let them kill me now,” he kept saying over and over. A man came up behind him, and the Jewish man started hitting him with his shoe and said, “You’re not going to kill me now.” The man behind him said, “I’m not going to kill you, I am an American.” The man broke into tears, and at that same moment I was overwhelmed with emotion, tears and chills.

Even though pictures weren’t allowed, the films, pictures and text will be imprinted in my mind forever.

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Day 2: From the U.S. Capitol to CNN

Photo%20on%202009-10-09%20at%2020.02.jpg An update from senior CCPA major Solomon:

Whew, what a whirlwind of activity today. It felt like we were in the midst of a twister, and we weren’t even in Kansas!

h-IMG_7416.JPG The first order of business in the morning was to catch the train for a short ride over to the U.S. Capitol building. There, we met with Dan Weiser, the Senior Web Editor for the U.S. House of Representatives. He gave us a brief overview of his duties and responsibilities before giving us an insider’s view of the White House press room. That was definitely interesting. We were able to even see the House of Representatives itself!

After our brief yet wonderful tour of the White House, it was on to a series of talks with a great number of people. We talked to members of the State Department about their policies regarding Africa. We went to the White House conference center, where we talked to the former deputy press secretary to the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Gannet Tseggai. We talked to Chief of Staff of the U.S. Department of Labor, Katherine Archuleta. But the highlight of our day came at the very end.

h-IMG_7595.JPG We were given special access to CNN. While at CNN we were able to view a live showing of Wolf Blitzer’s The Situation Room. That was amazing! We saw what happens during a live broadcast, including the unscheduled, unexpected events that happen more often than we know. While we were there, the guest on the show was nowhere to be found. They had to put John King, another anchor, in his place until they could find their guest. We were grateful for the access CNN granted us and for the insight we otherwise would not have had.

Tomorrow will be yet another whirlwind tour of D.C. with more to report on. We all can’t wait!

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Life at CNN

CIMG0594.jpg An update from senior CCPA major Michelle:

CNN.png We had the wonderful opportunity to visit CNN headquarters. We had the pleasure of meeting with CNN political director Sam Feist. He guided us on a tour of the facilities and allowed us to sit in on a recording of The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, whom we also got a chance to meet!

We also visited the main control room. Sam concluded the tour with advice about going into a career and said that the most important aspect is establishing relationships. Sam let us in on the hectic lifestyle of CNN’s staff. This was an amazing experience and brought me closer to the news medium that informs me almost daily.

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Our first day in D.C.!

Photo%20on%202009-10-09%20at%2020.02.jpg An update from senior CCPA major Solomon:

IMG_7369.jpg Wow, what a day. We’ve arrived by plane, by train, and even rode in a van to an Ethiopian restaurant for dinner.

The White House, a few blocks from our hotel, was one of the first sights we set our eyes upon, as well as one of the last.

Everyone is exceedingly excited for the trip ahead. We have opinion leaders to meet, influential party members to speak to, and many, many experiences that will truly enrich our lives and widen our eyeballs! This trip to D.C. will be amazing.

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The people we meet

Elizabeth.jpg An update from Elisabeth: An update from Elisabeth:

In this competitive country, we hear that the way to make it to the top is through the contacts we make. When 17 CCPA and Journalism students were given the privilege to shadow Meadows Professors Rita Kirk, Ben Voth, Christina Baily-Byers and Carolyn Barta to Washington, D.C., there was no way to know what to expect. I was one of the students given the wonderful opportunity to have this life-altering experience.

The first day we did not stop, not even to eat, after security took the only food we had planned to eat for the day! (Remember we are in D.C.; security is at every door.) We experienced more history, emotion, and knowledge in five days than could have been experienced in a semester of classes.

Yet on this trip especially, I found that sometimes the people you meet can be more beneficial then the actual knowledge you learn from a subject. Not to discount intelligence, because we as people would be nothing without our wits, but the ones we meet and make special connections with can help us move forward using our knowledge.

This trip was designed to help us use the knowledge we have learned in the classroom and expand on it. We were fortunate enough to talk to people who have made a successful life for themselves in the careers they have aspired to obtain. I can only hope to follow in their footsteps and obtain the career of my dreams.

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Food adventures in D.C.

CIMG1843_2-1.jpgAn update from sophomore Bianca, a CCPA and creative writing major:

Let me just start off by saying that after staying up until 3 a.m. packing, cleaning, showering, eating, basically doing anything and everything to kill time since I was too excited to sleep, the last thing I want to hear in the morning is my alarm clock going off at 6 a.m. But, being the trooper I am, I groggily fell out of bed and slipped into whatever chic outfit I had picked out the night before – after all, I have to dress to impress in the big city!

It was still night as I went outside. Am I really that excited for this trip still or is that pounding in my head just my brain knocking to tell me I need more sleep? I got on the plane alone, which I have done before, and passed out the entire trip while the two gentlemen next to me had to deal with my snoring and taking up all their leg room. The part I least looked forward to was figuring out how in the world I was going to get to the hotel. I’ve never flown anywhere and not had someone to pick me up.

Since I clearly looked frazzled, a nice security guard pointed me to a Super Shuttle information desk, where a lady, who sympathetically noticed my confusion, booked a shuttle to take me to my hotel. As I peered out the window at the busy streets, businessmen running late and colorful buildings passing me by, it finally hit me. I was in Washington, D.C.

Not only was I in Washington, D.C., but I was also the first person in our group to arrive at the hotel. This downtime did me wonders because I was able to nap, straighten my hair and watch SpongeBob in the hotel room as I waited for the rest of the group.

At 6:30 we all had dinner plans at an Ethiopian restaurant. I’ve never been much of a risk taker when it comes to food. I know I like hamburgers and French fries from pretty much anywhere, Mexican food, Italian, Asian, but Ethiopian food? What?

Our van dropped us off at a popular Ethiopian restaurant. Of course, there had to be a pizza place next door to tease me and let me know that wouldn’t be where I would be eating. The tables were low to the ground and the chairs were even lower. I picked the best day possible to choose to wear a dress.

CIMG0489.jpg We picked platters of meat and some of vegetables. Once the food arrived, it actually hit me that not only did we not have individual plates but also no silverware. Instead, we had these tortilla-looking rolls of sourdough that we used to rip pieces off and then pick up the food. Once again – what?!

Being the complete freak I am about food, I would strategically wait for people next to me to try the food, and then I would observe the expressions on their faces to see if it tasted good. Signs of approval would signal for me to meticulously rip off my piece of sourdough and dig in.

While I am very glad I can now say I have tried Ethiopian food, I am not a fan of it. Upon leaving the restaurant, it hit me that there was one thing that would really hit the spot: good ol’ fashioned pizza. Oh, did I want pizza.

Our group then went to the White House to have our own personal photo shoot. Since everyone has their own camera, we all want the same exact picture on each camera even though we are smart enough to figure out we could simply use one camera and then put it up on Facebook. But it doesn’t matter. It’s the White House and we all want our own picture of it!

CIMG0502.jpg Afterward, six of us decided to go out for pizza and ice cream. It has never tasted so good.

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