Soon my last week at James Madison University begins. It will be tough to say goodbye to all the friendly people I’ve met here and lived so close to. But before we go our separate ways, we have one more week of projects, lectures and excursions left.
Last weekend was a fun one, when we all spent two days in Washington D.C. We had a guided tour around the big monuments in the National Mall and then visited museums around the area. Most museums in central D.C. are free to enter, so you can bounce around quickly from one to the other. I can’t put into words how much fun it is to have so many great museums lined up one after the other! Later in the night, I met an old friend who lives just outside the city, and we biked around and saw the monuments again but this time lit up against the night sky.
My favorite monument was without a doubt the Vietnam veterans memorial. When you approach, it looks like just a large black stone sculpture. When you start to get closer, you see the thousands of names engraved into the wall showing the American casualties. The memorial was designed by a young college student, and I think the concept it interesting. Instead of listing the names in alphabetical order, they are written according to the date the soldiers were killed or reported missing. It makes for more of a narrative display, compared to what would have looked like a phone book of dead soldiers if the names were shown alphabetically.
Later in the week we visited the amazing Shenandoah Caverns. They were very beautiful! The strange shapes created by minerals traveling with water has been featured in the National Geographic, and it’s not hard to see why. See for yourself in the pictures below!
We were invited to a panel discussion where four people born in the US answered questions about North American life, culture and politics from their personal perspective. It was interesting to hear their different points of view. Something that really got me thinking was when one of the participants said that “local-level politics are where the real meaningful decisions are made”, which should be a reason for people to get involved in what’s happening in their local communities. A problem in the US today is that fewer people go to vote, and focus on the local level seemed to me like a good attitude to have when fighting that problem.
As I’m writing this we have just come back from a very rainy trip to King’s Dominion, a big amusement park about two hours away from the university. It was without a doubt the wildest rides I’ve ever been on. Now it’s time to relax and have a warming cup of mate!
Thanks for reading.