– Julia Horowitz
We began our third full day in Washington, D.C. by visiting the National Coalition for the Homeless, an organization fighting to end homelessness. We got to hear the incredible stories of John and Penny, two former homeless people. John told us about how he lived a normal life, and never would have associated himself with homelessness. He did well in school, but opted out of college and got a job for a successful company instead. After the company that he worked for was bought out, he was laid off. To make things even worse, his house burned down. This resulted in him officially being homeless.
As homeless, John told us about how he felt invisible and alone. The despair that John had to face while being homeless is just one of the many things that the National Coalition for the Homeless is advocating for. Fortunately, John now has a roof over his head and is employed. Next, we got to hear Penny’s story. Penny had a very rough childhood; her father passed away when she was six, and she experienced child abuse and molestation. She eventually ran away from home at age 13. Her mental health impaired her ability to maintain a job; her history with abuse and domestic violence gave her PTSD. She then began to seek help by joining a mental health trauma recovery group. She got a job at the Pentagon but quit and attended Potomac college instead, due to the agony of 911. Penny has worked for the National Coalition for the Homeless for the past six years and now helps those who are going through what she went through. Hearing John and Penny’s stories was so inspiring and powerful to me because they both went through so much distress in their lives and have since been able to live much better lives and overcome their many difficulties. I really appreciated getting to hear John and Penny speak because although I have seen many homeless people before, I have never had the opportunity to hear their stories about how they became homeless. After the meeting, we had lunch with the National Coalition for the Homeless.
Next, we headed over to the National Archives to see some pretty important documents: The original Constitution and Declaration of Independence. For the first time ever, there was no line outside. This was truly a mechiah. We were able to enter the rather dark rotunda right away to see the documents that shape our government. It was great to see the Constitution and Declaration of Independence in the flesh. We then walked over to the Smithsonian Museum of American History and were given 2 hours to explore. Personally, my favorite part was the food exhibit, not surprisingly. It showed how immigration has changed American cuisine and how new technologies have changed what we eat. I found this very interesting because I never really thought about the history of the food that I consume everyday. After the museum, we headed over to see the White House and spend time in Lafayette Park.
There were lots of protesters outside of the White House, and it was interesting to watch. We were given time to relax in the park before going to dinner at Potbelly. After dinner, we saw “Capitol Steps”, a political comedy show. Hilarious is an understatement! They performed various skits and songs while parodying well-known political leaders. By the end of the night, we were all dying of laughter. Capitol Steps was the perfect way to end a great day in the district.