Monday, October 20, 2008

Embarking on Another Journey

I'm not even going to apologize about the lack of should just be used to it by now. It's not that I don't think about my shortcomings, I just opt to do other things, such as write papers, do endless amounts of reading, and organize all of the groups I'm involved with. Wow, way too extensive of an explanation.

Well, on Tuesday night I am flying to Washington, D.C. to meet up with my father and his parents (aka my grandparents) to spend Fall Break with them. I'm incredibly excited. I love Valpo, but I'm really needing a getaway trip. I haven't been to DC since my internship with Thune during the Summer of 2005, so it's exciting to get another opportunity to go back to the city that made me fall in love with politics.

On a different note that will make sense later, last Saturday (the 11th) I was privileged to attend a luncheon with the Christ College deans, as well as faculty, alumni board, and other distinguished guests as part of the Homecoming celebration and my involvement with Christ College and as an applicant for the Truman Scholarship. This was probably the first time in my life that I was truly questioned as to what I was doing here at Valpo, what my passions are, why I'm a political science major, and what I see myself doing in the future. I always like to think that I have those answers figured out in my head and when I eventually have to say them out loud that they'll make sense. Prof. MacFarlane asked me, "So what got you into politics?" I started with my typical..."Well my parents weren't overly active in politics, but I somehow landed this internship with Senator Thune before my senior year in high school..." blah, blah, blah. (I promise it was slightly more sophisticated diction than that)...but in reflection, I realized that I never delivered the true reason as to why I'm doing what I am, nor have I ever given this reason before. But this is the truth and this is the story:

My dad and I were coming back from a Washington Nationals game during the Summer of 2005 and were, as usual, taking the Metro back to the hotel on Capitol Hill. I immediately took notice of another young woman, definitely older than me, but no older than 25. She was flustered, emotional, distraught...and lost. Frantically unfolding, refolding, and turning the Metro map, I decided that she needed help. I ran the idea by my dad, who encouraged me to approach the girl, since it would be intimidating for a man to approach her and we wouldn't want her to feel uncomfortable. As I neared her, her misty eyes glazed in my direction and straight to my heart. I introduced myself and then asked if she needed help getting home. She, in turn, introduced herself (I, unfortunately, cannot remember her name) and added that she was studying abroad in the United States for a year and this was her first week. I asked her where she was going and she replied that she was looking for the Capitol. Relieved by the fact that I actually knew how to get there, I told her that Union Station is where both her, my dad, and I would get off. She continued to tell about how her parents had sacrificed so much for her to get the experience to come to America and see what education should really be like. After a few more moments of small talk, it was time to get off the Metro and walk outside. Her reaction is something that I have not forgotten. Tears of joy immediately fell from her already tearful eyes and she kneeled on the ground before us and looked toward the Capitol. I kneeled down next to her, put my arm around her, and asked if she was okay. She responded, "I can't believe it. It's actually here. I've been waiting for this moment since I was a little girl. Thank you Lord!" Not being able to help myself, I started to cry with her, completely taken aback by her innocent appreciation for a building that often means so little to Americans, yet so much to those who do not know freedom. After regaining composure, she picked up her bag and hugged both my dad and I and started running towards the Capitol. As she was running, she turned around and yelled, "Thank you! May God bless you and may God bless America!"

That is why I'm a political science major. I was only 17, yet that connection with a complete stranger is one of the greatest experiences I have ever had. And now that I'm returning to the city of hope, freedom, and democracy...I could only wish that something similar would happen again.