The Line Between Tourist and Resident

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Today marks the end of week one in Washington.  Because I’m only living in the city for three and a half months, I have to balance being both a tourist and a resident.  Even as I visit the typical “touristy” places, it’s my personal challenge to go beyond viewing these sites from the camera lens and actually take in the significance of where I am. As a tourist, I’ve visited the memorials and a few Smithsonian museums, but as a resident, I’ve also been working on mastering the bus system, learning the tricks of the metro, and orienting myself to the city quadrants.  As each day passes, Washington becomes more my city.

At the American Studies Program, we take three classes in five week segments.  My first class is all about leadership and vocation, topics that come up frequently in a liberal arts college.  Although I’m quite familiar with the idea that God uses our passions and occupational callings to His glory, it’s hard for me to articulate how this plays out for me specifically.  However, I can’t shake the feeling that this is where I’m meant to be. Washington is an undeniable center of politics, power plays, and public policy, and these topics continue to excite me.  As Christians, we are called to the ministry of reconciliation, and being in Washington D.C. opens my eyes to what this could look like in the political sphere.

In fact, attending church in DC reinforces what a political city this is! The gospel message takes on an inescapably political nature here.  Christ transforms every aspect of society, and it’s exciting to see how the church is part of political transformation. Gary Haugen, founder of the International Justice Mission, spoke at National Community Church last Sunday. Explaining the Christian calling to truth and helping those in need, he observed, “God’s will in a sinful world is inherently dangerous.” As I’m exposed to the dizzying process for political change in Washington, I’d have to add that God’s will in a sinful world is inherently complicated, and thus must be approached prayerfully.

On a lighter note, I’ve had so much fun exploring the city with the people I’ve met through my program. Here are a few photos…

Getting my ducks in a row at the Lincoln Memorial

Why yes, the Washington Monument does make me want to jump for joy!

Don’t underestimate me, I’m a force to be reckoned with!

What would a museum visit be without trying to imitate one of the exhibits?

I’ve officially made it…

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I’ve  braved the humidity and heat to make the one mile trek to the nearest metro stop, filled my Metro SmarTrip card with fare money, and got a library card for the Library of Congress manuscript reading room. I’m officially here!

Actually getting here was a much less pleasant experience… On the bright side, I can cross leaving an item behind at the airport, having my bag searched, not sleeping through a red-eye flight, and taking a taxi-cab off my life-experience check list.  It has been fun settling into my new apartment.  My roommates are really friendly and the location is phenomenal. I’ve got to post a picture of the fabulous view from our roof top – the Capitol is RIGHT THERE!

Today we had orientation and we were given a weekend scavenger hunt to orient us to the city. While my group has only checked two items off our list (getting the Library of Congress reading room card and finding the Titanic Memorial), I do feel like I’m understanding the city layout better. Well, I hope to write more soon, but this post is just to let you all know that I’ve arrived safely!

Yes, I meant to keep the stop symbol in the photo.  I liked the symbolism of the powerful presence of the Capitol and the powerless position of the pedestrian. I guess there’s just this part of me that really wants to be an artistic photographer! I’m hoping to really improve my photo skills this semester.

Let the packing and craziness begin…

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I’ve had a number of people ask me if I am going to keep a blog during my term in Washington DC. After maintaining a blog during Europe Semester, I’ve found that it is an excellent way to keep in touch, share what I’m up to, and force myself to present my adventures in a concise manner. While I cannot promise that I will be the most consistent of bloggers, I will do my best!

For those who aren’t aware what I’m up to, I will be attending the American Studies Program in Washington DC through Westmont College.  I will be living in Capitol Hill (less than a mile from the Capitol and the Supreme Court building!), taking classes on public policy, and interning at the State Department. I’m excited to see how God uses this time to shape who I am and the calling He has prepared for me. While I know I’m passionate about political science, I still am painfully unsure of “what I want to do when I grow up” and how God will use me. I’m prayerful that God will use this term to grow me and show me where I should be!

Yesterday I began packing and am realizing what a chore it will be! I’ve read the travel books, filled out a 30 page security clearance form, and met with a special investigator for the State Department. Even so, the fact that I will be living in Washington DC hasn’t really set in yet. Ready or not, in six days here I come!

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