At the table: A journey to Washington

Editor’s Note: At the Table is an international exchange program that connects high school students in Philadelphia and Riga. The program, undertaken by the National Constitution Center in collaboration with the National History Museum of Latvia, began the second leg of the travel portion of the project. One Latvian student-participant, Ernests Sturiska, discusses his experience in Washington, D.C.

On the 3rd of May we visited Washington, D.C. as a part of the project “At The Table” exchange visit.  In the morning everybody seemed tired, but ready for the journey.  The thought of going to the capital of the United States itself made me feel great about what was going to await us during our day and I was glad, that I wasn’t mistaken because the day turned out really great!

The trip itself seemed quiet and peaceful; however, we could hear laughter and joyful chatting.  Since the very arrival in Washington I was amazed.  The architecture and the look of the city surprised me as it was really beautiful and breathtaking.

Everything was so beautiful, that I don’t even remember a time when I didn’t have my camera switched off.  For me, as a tourist, the view was truly magnificent, but I couldn’t understand how people could possibly get used to that place.  How is it possible to get used to a city where everything is historical and magnificent?

We spent most of our day walking around and admiring different monuments and I can say that I don’t regret a single minute spent next to Lincoln’s memorial and other historical sites and monuments.  The history and meaning of these monuments fascinated me and made me think of what we value in our lives and what other cultures value more.

The end of the day was full of special moments – starting with our visit to the Department of State, which is our project grantor.  We met really open people and expressed our opinions about the project as well as reflected our most cherished moments in project and the greatest memories, ending with a 4 hour drive back to Philadelphia in which we could hear different stories, jokes, we could play different games and just laugh.  For me personally the ride back to Philadelphia was worth as much as the time spent in Washington!

Generally about the day I can say that it was more than successful – it was perfect!  During this day we not only learned more about the history of America and their culture, but we also shared our emotions, feelings and got to know our U.S. friends better.

At the Table: Connecting Culture, Conversation and Service in Latvia and the U.S. was funded in part by a grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in collaboration with American Association of Museums. The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the author[s] and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of State.

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