Mr. Smith goes to Washington, National Treasure, Independence Day – when I was young I imagined DC through these movies. I have never been there, but I have always fantasized about working there. I used to day dream about being in the city around which the rest of the world seemed to rotate, fighting for truth, justice, and the American way. As I have grown older shows like House of Cards and the ever-overly-dramatic news have infiltrated my fantasies of DC with a horrifying image of a deep dark swamp. They have created a city where young idealists enter and old cynical bureaucrats leave, and around every corner is corruption and spies. In this city, the sun never shines and there is always a slight drizzle to symbolize the weeping of angels. In all likelihood, this current doom and gloom view of DC is foolish, just as my idealistic understanding of it from my childhood was.
In just a couple of weeks I will land at Ronald Reagan National Airport in DC. I will pass through what will likely be a fairly warm and busy city to arrive at American University, which I will be attending for the semester as a part of the Baylor Semester in Washington Program. Upon which time, I will prepare for my work load of an eight-hour course in US foreign policy (yikes and yippie!?!?) and an internship somewhere in the city (yet to be determined which one, but a definite YIPPIE!). When I start walking down those streets I will neither be a heroic lawyer, nor a corrupt politician, nor even an international spy. Instead, I will be what I have been for my entire life, a student. Rather than arguing in front of the Supreme Court, I will probably get lost, or take the wrong train and miss the movie that I had planned to go to with friends. Rather than selling secrets to a foreign government I imagine it is much more likely that I will find myself in awe as I walk around the national mall. I am sure that I will get into my fair share of debates, but they are far more likely to be in the classroom or a coffee shop than on CNN.
I am going to a city that is the center of politics and drama in the US, yet I find myself simply excited to learn. I believe I have the BIC to blame for that. It made me appreciate the beauty of being a student, whether you are in class or not. The BIC has taught me that I will spend my entire life learning new lessons. Whether that be Dr. McDaniel talking about something new he has learned in his research, or Dr. Long talking about a moment that shaped him in his life, or even a fellow student telling me about something they read in the news the other day, this community has made it far more difficult for me to have my international spy day dreams. No, now I look forward to the huge stack of academic essays I must read for my one class that will make a world cultures syllabus look like a joke. I look forward to learning how to do the average task at my internship that will only help make very small, careful steps towards progress for our country. I salivate over the opportunity to get lost in the Smithsonian (coincidentally I guess Night at the Museum is one movie that is still affecting me). Yes, there will be many events and occurrences I will enjoy, most of which I doubt I can even predict right now. While I might not be stepping into the movie I always hoped I would, I will be entering a city I am fascinated by, to do the thing I love to do the most: learn.
Noah Ward (’19) is a junior political science major from Springfield, Missouri. We hope to post more from Noah during his time in Washington, D.C. this semester.