By: Christopher Veeder, Winona State University
As I began The Washington Center’s 2017 Presidential Inauguration Academic Seminar, I quickly realized the amazing opportunity I had been presented. Through the first couple days, I’ve been exposed to just a few examples of the inner-workings of Washington D.C. and to thought-provoking discussions with national scholars. These are experiences I could not have had anywhere else.
By engaging in this program, I’m confident that I’ll receive a first-hand account of governmental institutions and the political process but also obtain the skills to foster inclusive and meaningful discourse within my university community.
At Winona State University, I’ve received a tremendous education. But despite all that I’ve learned from my professors, being part of this seminar over the next two weeks simply cannot be replicated in a classroom setting. We have the privilege to utilize the knowledge we’ve gathered over the last several years and apply it to real-world situations. Throughout the seminar, we’ll discuss salient issues with America’s most influential policy-makers. I’ve already debated international issues with a former member of the Turkish parliament. Applying acquired knowledge to contemporary issues within the city will help me better understand the relationship between my university studies and real-world situations.
As I prepare to graduate, this seminar is especially important in preparing me for the professional world. The Washington Center’s culture of professionalism and civility are great examples for students as we become accustomed to respectable working relationships with peers. Consistent with the seminar’s theme of elevating political discourse, we also can better allow for respectable conversations and treat every individual with proper dignity. Furthermore, by attending various professional events and enjoying site visits around Washington D.C., we will see how top leaders promote how a professional nature can ensure respect among participants, and thus improve the quality of discussions and tasks. The Washington Center already has taught us that it can improve our ability to work together to benefit the communities we hope to serve.
Throughout the next two weeks, I hope to continue to learn, gain real-world experience in understanding government institutions, and develop valuable skills in fostering respectable civic dialogue among my peers. By the conclusion of the seminar, I intend to encourage civil discussions over salient, and sometimes divisive, political issues. By participating in The Washington Center’s 2017 Presidential Inauguration Academic Seminar, I am confident that I will be able to assist in improving our democracy.