Over the summer, 23 students and five faculty members from Francis Marion University (FMU) traveled to Washington D.C., to spend a week exploring, touring and learning in the nation’s capital.
The trip was part of the Ready to Experience Applied Learning program (REAL), and was open to students from a variety majors, including: health physics, history, mass communication, political science and McNair Scholars. Students were chosen for the trip through an application process.
Students traveled to D.C. by train and stayed five nights at The Washington Center. Accommodations were provided by REAL; however, students were responsible for paying for food and activities outside of the trip’s itinerary.
Christopher Kennedy, chair of the history department, accompanied the students on behalf of his department, along with six history majors.
“We had a lot of fun, everyone enjoyed it,” Kennedy said. “You should pester your professors and find out more about future REAL trips.”
Students spent their mornings in seminars, listening to accredited guest speakers pertaining to their respective fields. Health physics students were able to attend lectures directed by members of the Nuclear Regulatory Department. History and political science students attended seminars led by some of the nation’s leading lobbyists. Public relations firm Purple Group was present at the seminars to enlighten mass communication majors as to what is required of professionals in the field.
After a morning of lectures, students were able to experience the cultural and historical side of D.C. Several students attended ballets, visited historical sites, watched Shakespearean plays at the Folger theatre, attended symphonies and took a tour of the White House. The White House tour allowed students to gain a better appreciation for the nation’s capital.
A dinner one night of the trip allowed current FMU students to connect with FMU alumni now living and working in the D.C. metropolitan area. Several FMU alumni from the Pee Dee region also traveled to D.C. to mingle with the current students and other alumni.
The students split-up into groups according to their interests and fields of study.
One group was able to meet with Congressman Tom Rice in his office, who offered advice and encouragement for those pursuing a career in politics. He also spoke about the need for youth to get involved in the political system by voting. Other groups visited the offices of Senator Lindsey Graham and Congressman James Clyburn. While they were both out of their offices at the time, the students enjoyed the experiences of visiting the offices of politicians from South Carolina.
The trip was planned, directed and coordinated by David White, department chair of political science and geography.
“[White] really put a lot into the trip to make sure it was perfect for everyone involved,” Kennedy said. “He’s the man.”
While the trip is not an annual occurrence at this time, it is expected to take place again in the future. Information about future D.C. trips will be posted around campus when the applications are available for students.
To find out more information about the D.C. trip or upcoming opportunities through the REAL program, contact David White or Christopher Kennedy.
“Take advantage of opportunities to experience the world and gain a better understanding of more than just the South,” Kennedy said. “There is a broader world out there, and the REAL program at FMU will pay for you to see it.”