By IVY BECKENHOLDT
Twelve Drake students made their way to Washington D.C. in the midst of the government shutdown for the Inside Washington J-Term.
According to junior Samantha Bayne, the shutdown framed much of the discussion in D.C.
“For many, it was a symbol for the divisions between the parties,” Bayne said. “We learned a lot about the tangible impacts of the shutdown and how we can move forward after it ends.”
Although the shutdown has highlighted many differences between parties in politics, Bayne said that she learned a lot about the similarities between parties.
“I will remember the difference between policy and politics,” Bayne said. “We have a lot more in common than you’d think. If we take time to learn about the needs of others and focus on the weeds of legislation, then we can get past the drama to make real change.”
According to Bayne, Drake alumni made many of the site visits possible. One such alum the J-Term students were able to visit was Representative Abby Finkenauer. The students also had the opportunity to meet with Representative Cindy Axne and Senator Cory Booker.
Sophomore Natalie Sherman said that it was inspiring “to hear from an elected representative about how much they enjoy and value their work.”
“Listening to Booker gush about his job and home state made me realize that our elected representatives are just like us – they just love their homes and want to improve them,” Sherman said. “He was very enthusiastic to meet us and actually ran over time just to take a selfie with each of us individually!”
Amidst the J-Term activities and the government shutdown, the city of D.C. was full of citizens advocating for change. The third annual Women’s March took place on Jan. 19, the last day of the J-Term class for these students. Sherman had the opportunity to participate in the D.C. march this year following the J-Term class.
“It was one of the most impactful experiences of my life,” Sherman said. “I attended the march last year in Iowa City but it was a much smaller affair. The march in D.C. was massive, and the energy and power is unmatched. The women’s march is a force to be reckoned with.”
Shermain said that the march symbolizes fighting for everyone. According to Sherman, women’s rights are humans rights.
“When we march, we march the whole country forward,” Sherman said. “That’s what the march means to me, that maybe if I keep marching forward one step at a time, the country will follow suit.”
According to Sherman, while D.C. has a lot of opportunities, she learned that it is not the end all be all of any field.
“You can go to D.C. to work on the hill, or you can stay in your hometown and work for local government, but neither of these choices is any less than the other,” Sherman said. “The work we all go off to do after graduation is important as long as we are passionate about what we do, and it doesn’t matter where that is. Go to D.C. and work, or don’t, but whichever you choose give it everything you have.”