Day 36: Washington DC
By Sydney Kass:
Yesterday, the cast of Etgar 36 fabulously played the roles of tourists in Washington D.C. First, we explored the Newseum: a museum that pays tribute to the rights of the first amendment and those who feed the public information. It is by far my favorite museum. Exhibits such as the Pulitzer Prize Photographs gallery, the Cox First Amendment gallery, the 9/11 gallery, the Berlin Wall gallery, etc. thoroughly demonstrated the significance of those who work to acquire and distribute information. Without these people, the public would be ignorant to the world around them. Some Etgar participants also had the opportunity to take part in the NBC News Interactive Newsroom. There, we recorded ourselves reading from a teleprompter and were able feel a sense of how it may feel to be a television reporter. I, personally, enjoyed this activity, but have decided not to quit my day job… Overall, I found the Newseum to be engaging, informative, and entertaining. Until Sunday, I never fully understood the strenuous work and effort that goes into feeding the public information.
Following the Newseum, Etgar had the chance to eat and get lunch from various food trucks. Then, we had time to disperse and explore. Some visited the National Air and Space Museum and/ or the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Others, wandered the sights of D.C.: the Capital Building, the Sculptural Garden, and the people. The District of Columbia has a very unique atmosphere. In no other place can one feel a sense of purpose, empowerment, and patriotism all simultaneously.
After our “adventures”, we headed towards the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Upon arrival, we, unfortunately, had to say our farewells to Taylor, whose presence on this trip will be greatly missed.
At the Museum, Etgar 36 was educated on the systematic murder and persecution of those deemed “undesirable” by Hitler and the Nazis. The museum, itself, is designed to inform visitors of the Holocaust not only through the use of displays and exhibits, but also experimentally. For example: In the beginning of our visit, large groups of people were speedily herded into small, claustrophobic, dimly lit, metal elevators, which lead us to the start of the tour. The elevator ride was meant to (on an extremely small scale) demonstrate how “prisoners” were transported to camps, where their future and existence could not be guaranteed. This entire method of transportation is dehumanizing; it treats human beings like cattle. It’s not right, nor is it fair. On top of that, prisoners would arrive at concentration camps, where they would be forced to work long, harsh hours. Some were even worked to death. If a prisoner became ill, they were most likely gassed and burned to death. This is unjust! It’s unbelievable that there was a time when these actions were condoned by the rest of the world, not too long ago. A tragedy such as the Holocaust is everyone’s business to get involved in and stop. “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.” -Elie Wiesel
To raise our spirits after an emotional museum visit, Etgar ate a delicious meal at “California Tortilla” and then hit the movies to view the new film “Bourne”. The movie was very intriguing and was a great experience. Sadly after, we all had to say goodbye to Danielle, who will be dearly missed the last day of the journey. We’ll miss you Taylor and Danielle!
Today (Monday), for our very last meeting, Etgar 36 met with AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Coalition). AIPAC is an organization that lobbies for a strong stable government in Israel and for a strong relationship between Israel and the United States. In addition, they support a two state solution, and believe that when Israel feels comfortable, they will allow for one. However, I found the meeting to be quite underwhelming. The early engagement director spoke about what AIPAC was, how they make a difference, and the importance of the legislature and the youth of America, but did not discuss policy. I and many others, found this to be frustrating. Leaving the meeting, I did not learn as much as I had expected to.
As for what’s next, I am forced to admit that Etgar 36 2016 is coming to an end. Today, we say goodbye to the District of Columbia and begin our drive back to Atlanta. We have journeyed around the country together as one, but when we arrive in Atlanta, we depart for the first time. I’ll miss y’all. This trip will most definitely not “die on the bus”, this trip will follow us everywhere.