What does it mean to be a citizen?
TEA 10th graders explored this question on a recent trip to Washington D.C.
Words by Carolyn Highland, Middle and High School Humanities Teacher
I hope your children have come back from their Washington, D.C. fieldwork with wonderful stories and some new insights to America’s capital city. In addition, we wanted to provide some key memories from an incredible trip.
Our time together in this unique urban environment was loaded with opportunities to explore what it means to be a citizen- in the U.S. or anywhere else. We gained knowledge together in comprehensive tours of museums, in our exploring the city on bike, paddling the Potomac, by metro, and on foot, and in conversations with engaging and insightful locals. By the end, we all emerged expert users of mass transportation and with many miles of walking behind us. In our conversations, we discussed such topics as whether graffiti and wall murals were a crime or an art form, whether groups of citizens can move forward when their histories have been full of conflict, and the progress we have made as a nation through difficult and conflicted history.
As you can see in the pictures, our visits included the Museum of the Holocaust, the African American Museum of History and Culture, and the Museum of the American Indian. Our bike tour included stops at the Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, World War II, and Franklin Roosevelt Monuments, as well as the White House and the National Mall. Each provided an opportunity to explore America’s history and culture and learn from the events and leaders of its past.
"We saw countless beautiful murals and met with an artist who was in the middle of a dynamic commissioned work, and had a chance to hear her perspective on everything from the specifics of her painting style to her conflicted view of being commissioned by Amazon."
A walking tour of “NoMa” (north of Massachusetts Avenue) with an area civic leader and muralist explored the perpetually changing city and both the promise and perils of neighborhoods undergoing rapid gentrification. We saw countless beautiful murals and met with an artist who was in the middle of a dynamic commissioned work, and had a chance to hear her perspective on everything from the specifics of her painting style to her conflicted view of being commissioned by Amazon. The world was certainly our classroom!
We all truly grew as a Crew and as individuals, and there will be stories to tell in the years ahead about this impactful experience. For almost all of the students, it was the first time visiting D.C. and the beauty of the capital was striking- leaves were turning, the weather was warm, the sky was blue and the marble and granite were striking.
Our closing circles at night highlighted “roses and thorns” and the roses (highlights) were wonderful memories and we certainly learned and grew from the thorns. The trip was affirming, engaging, and challenging all at once- exactly what we have come to expect from TEA fieldwork! Thank you for allowing us to spend the week with these amazing young people.