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This blog is created by students of Whitworth University visiting New York City and Washington, D.C., for a class on Media Impact in the Contemporary U.S.

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Final Thoughts with Meghan Foulk

These final thoughts won’t be screaming and whining like our favorite Tomi Lahren, but they will offer opinions that should not be considered fact!

  • New York coffee shops need to learn about this thing called WiFi. How else am I supposed to write these blog posts when our hostel network decides to kick me off as frequently as Trump’s tweets??
  • We should all be more open about what we love. From going on tangents about media literacy education to debating the latest season of Game of Thrones, we make friends through our loves and build connections with each other through them.
  • Caffeinate as often as possible. Just accept your addiction.
  • Museums are always worth spending money on. You’ll see things you’ve only dreamed about, like Van Gogh’s Starry Night, and find the weirdest things like the sound tunnel thing at the MoMA that I still don’t know the name of. In times such as these, we should always spend money on the arts. This trip, I managed to go to with zero regret:
    • The MET (NYC, $12 for students)
    • The MoMA (NYC, $14 with student ID)
    • The Guggenheim (NYC, $18 with student ID)
    • The Whitney (NYC, $18 with student ID)
    • The Holocaust Museum (DC, free)
    • The Newseum (DC, we went as part of the trip, but typically ~$21.25 with student ID)
    • The National Museum of Women in the Arts (DC, $8 with a student ID)
  • Sometimes questions you didn’t expect get you answers that you didn’t know you needed. So ask questions all the time, even when the answer may seem obvious.
  • “Bring light not heat to conversation.” – Paula Kerger, CEO and President of PBS.
  • Education doesn’t always happen in the classroom. Sometimes it happens in late-night conversations with roommates, in crowded museum halls, down in the subways, over sushi that had way too long of a wait, and in the smallest moments so brief you may have missed it.
  • The travel bug is easy to catch and will never be sated. And that’s okay. Just save up some money first.
  • As dire as the situation may seem with fake news and Trump, there are journalists working hard out there to bring the truth and are truly servants to the public. We can’t disregard the entire industry for faults of others, and we should recognize how the environment has forced media to step up and become more responsible for their content and reporting.
  • Polaroids are great for traveling, as they are impossible to recreate and make an experience of waiting for a picture worthwhile.
  • Everyone and everywhere should have compost and recycling. Our world is dying and people need to get their crap together.
  • I like empty, abandoned spaces. Those should be explored more often.
  • There must be some irony in women wearing resistance shirts and carrying Zara shopping bags post-Women’s March.
  • Everyone should participate in one march or protest in their lives. People coming together for change is a powerful thing, and when we allow ourselves to be passive in the face of conflict then we are no better than the oppressors.
    • First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me. – Niemöller
  • We should yes more often, it leads to things we don’t often foresee.
  • We are responsible for this nation. So let us take responsibility.

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“I was on the 82nd floor when the first plane struck.”

William Raff, 9/11 survivor, poses in front of the Survivor Stairs, center, a staircase which workers had to hurry down to escape falling debris during the terrorist attack.

The National September 11 Memorial and Museum is rooted in ground zero of the 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Sections of the towers, recordings of key individuals and equipment used by first responders were all on display in the exhibit. I became moved by the memorials to the deceased, which involved pictures of everyone who lost their life that day as well as in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Being able to see the camera that the Naudet brothers used in their 9/11 documentary and simply be in the presence of miscellaneous items that were present during the attack held a substantial significance to me.

While examining a part of the broadcast antenna from the South Tower, I couldn’t help but eavesdrop on one of the guides. He was an elderly man of short stature, yet he spoke with the spryness of a young man, hands and face animated in grandeur on his experience of the 2001 attack. I decided to let him work instead of disturbing him for an interview.

Once I finished the exhibit, the elderly gentleman was still out there. He began to walk in the other direction away from me. In the back of my mind, I knew that I would never forgive myself if I passed up this opportunity to interview him about what he was doing and how he felt during September 11th. I ran toward his general vicinity and caught him just as he was wrapping up a prevention of the Survivor Stairs, a staircase which many had to rush down to escape falling debris. 

“I was on the 82nd floor when the first plan struck,” he mentioned.

He told me everything and spared no expense. I felt gratified at getting the most interesting interview I’ve ever done in my life. It will surely be in my multimedia project.

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What inspires you?

I asked myself this question today as our group went walking to the different monuments and memorials throughout D.C. To be exact, as I was looking at the quotes on the wall of the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial, I reflected on this thought myself. What has inspired me throughout this trip, and even better yet, who?

I have always appreciated wise words from those who are older than me or those who have made a lasting and positive impact on this world. Martin Luther King Jr. is one of those people. There were two quotes at the memorial that really stuck out to me (and let’s be real, they’re classics). I think the reason why these two resonated with me most is because they are both truth-tellers. The quotes are raw, challenging and encouraging. Below are the two photos of the quotes from the memorial for reference, which were spoken by the influential Martin Luther King Jr. himself.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

I continued to think about this whole inspiration idea as I made my way through the other memorials. Another one that affected me were the quotes from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial. I can honestly say that the reason why two of these impacted me as much as they did was because I could relate to them both on a personal level. If you know me, you know that I have a heart for the underprivileged and serving those that have less than I have. The first photo and quote pictured demonstrates that desire well. As far as the second quote, something that I struggle with is the concept of fear and wanting to be fearless. So seeing this stung a little at first, but was also something that I needed to come across. 

“I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished. The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

There has been a lot that has inspired me on this trip. From quotes at memorials and monuments to the many professionals that we have met at organizations, they all have provided some sort of lesson that I can carry on with me throughout my life. Whether I use those lessons and words of advice personally or professionally, they will all benefit me well. 

Today, be thinking about the things or people that inspire you. It will hopefully change your outlook and make you more appreciative of the world around you! There is so much wisdom that we can learn from others. 

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In New York I’m cool, but in DC I’m a noob

As soon as we got to the hostel in New York, I knew where I was. Well, not literally. I actually had no clue where in New York we were, and I barely understood how the address “New York, NY” worked (it’s pretty clear to me now). What I mean, however, is that I felt instantly comfortable finding my way to the place where we would have dinner, even if it was just down the street. I had already begun to figure out the “lay of the land” just from the first neighborhood walk-around that we did. I felt so proud. Now, here in DC, I struggle to remember how to get to the Metro station from our hostel, and it’s only a few blocks away. I’ll oh-so-confidently start heading down one street just to realize (or be told by my classmates who have the proper directions pulled up on Google Maps) that I was wrong. My time as the group compass in New York just didn’t carry over, I guess.

This is such a small issue, but I wonder why I’ve had such a difficult time finding my way around DC when I somehow adapted so quickly to the bustling, crowded, city life of New York. Out of both places, Washington would be the most similar to the town that I grew up in. It’s small; there’s quite a bit of open space; there are many small businesses; it’s charming. New York has some of those features, but in Manhattan, it was somewhat the opposite. There was rarely open space that didn’t have buildings closely surrounding it and/or blocking the sky; New York City itself is pretty large and has many boroughs and neighborhoods; and there are definitely some very not-so-charming parts to the area. Yet somehow I was able to comprehend that so much better. Huh.

However, if there’s one thing that I’ve learned about finding your way around a new place, it’s that you just have to be confident. Even if you’re not actually confident, if you pretend that you are, you’ll appear more to others like you know what you’re doing, and you might even have better luck finding your way around. (There’s some friendly life advice from Cambria.)

Also, I don’t plan on actually writing a blog post about this, but I came up with this riveting title for a post, and I wanted to share. If I were to write it, the post would be about what it was like visiting the Arlington cemetery and all the memorials. The title would be “The ghosts of American heroes past.” I thought it was great. That is all.

(To whomever is reading this, I hope you have a lovely day/night!)

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Community Amid Shutdown

I remember the last few government shutdowns. One under Obama, one under Trump. There were frustrations then too, but it was distanced. Being in the real Washington (State, that is), opposite coasts really removed me from the conflict beyond word of mouth and what I read online. This time, I get to be in the Capital and see how this area, filled mostly by government employees, is dealing with the government being shut down. It’s been reported that small businesses like restaurants and cafes are suffering because there are no federal employees going out during their lunch hours. Closing the Smithsonian museums hurts tourism for the community. Cab drivers are having to work longer hours to make up for the lack of activity in the area.

Despite all of the negativity that is coming out of the pig-headedness of this government shutdown, there have been positive moments and movements that have given me a bit of hope for humanity. There is a #ChefsforFeds movement where restaurants are giving deals and food for workers that show their ID (here’s a list, although it includes places around the country as well as in D.C.); I saw signs like that at milk bar (offered a free coffee or soft serve) and Gregorys Coffee (free 12 oz of coffee). Good ol’ Greg. There are other places that are also offering deals, when we stopped by the Newseum (side note, super cool place to visit) which had a sign posted informing federal workers that they were able to come in for free.

Here’s a breakdown of all sorts of deals around D.C. for federal workers! There are sports teams and movie theaters, child care and gyms, transit and museums. Some highlights:

  • Alamo Drafthouse Cinema offering free movies.
  • Anytime Fitness are offering 14 days free.
  • National Law Enforcement Museum is offering free admission.
  • Punch Bowl Social in Arlington is offering a 25 percent discount on all food, beverages and games.
  • Radiator is offering a complimentary cocktail, the Furlough Fix.

It’s the community coming together to support those who are in need, even when they may be suffering from the same problem. Yes, yes, it is the Whitworth buzzword, but it’s a cool thing to see. While it would be great to be here when the government ended the shutdown (selfishly because I want to go to all the museums, selflessly because of all the people that need to be paid), it has been impactful to see people come together in conflict, especially as we hear so much negativity from media outlets about the current climate in our culture. Terrible things will happen, but there will always be wonderful people in terrible situations to give the rest of us hope.

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Finding Fun in Subzero Temperatures

So subzero might be hyperbolic, but Monday was cold. It wasn’t just “make sure to bring a scarf cold,” but “I probably should wear legging under my jeans” cold. For those who still don’t get the picture, the high on Monday was 22 degrees Fahrenheit with an additional windchill and a low of 13 degrees. With that said, I don’t want it to seem as if I’m complaining that my day was ruined because of the unfavorable temperature. It merely presented some additional challenges I wasn’t completely prepared to handle.

Our day started out with the usual breakfast from the hostel and getting ready for the day’s adventures. I made sure to bring my scarf, gloves and hat today because I wanted to be prepared for the colder weather. A couple people in the group decided to wear two pairs of pants to stay warm, but I thought that I could handle the chill because I am accustomed to harsh Montana winters. Our plan for the day was to go out to see the Martin Luther King Jr. monument, participate in some of the MLK events and then possibly go and walk around Georgetown in the afternoon.

The walk to the Metro was unpleasant but manageable. We were all still feeling pretty positive. After our short Metro ride, we had a 20 minute walk to the MLK monument. I was no where close to prepared for a 20 minute walk in what felt like zero degrees. My fingers and toes were frozen in the first couple minutes even with wool socks and gloves on. The worst part was my legs started to get so cold they were tingling and felt as if they were on fire. After only a few minutes we decided to head back to the hostel and the plan for our day went out the window.

Meghan (right) and I trying to stay warm on our morning commute.

I was disappointed I didn’t get to see the MLK monument or participate in the day’s events and frustrated that we no longer had a plan for the rest of the day. I spent about an hour moping around the hostel until I decided to suck it up and brave the cold once again. Three of us, including myself, decided to venture to a quirky gift shop called The Chocolate Moose just to check it out and get away from the hostel for a bit. This time I made sure to wear what I thought would be enough to stay warm in the cold. This time I left the hostel wearing tights, jeans, wool socks, boots, a long sleeve thermal shirt, fleece jacket, my winter coat, my scarf, and finally gloves. I was finally successful in figuring out how to manage the temperature. When we arrived at the gift shop it was closed, but we still had a night full of fun and new experiences.

The three of us ended up riding around on the dockless electric scooters that can be found scattered on the sidewalks of many different cities. This was my first time ever using one of these scooters. I had a blast. Even though my toes, fingers and nose were numb when I got back to the hostel, the smiles and laughter were worth bearing the cold. I looked at Monday not as a day where my plans were spoiled by foul weather, but as one full of mystery and new experiences. I am not someone who can just go with the flow, but today I learned having that mentality can result in positive outcomes.

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To report or not to report?

Before this trip, I was uncertain whether I really wanted to pursue a career in journalism or not. Now in the midst of this trip, I’m still uncertain.

One of the benefits of this class is that I get the opportunity to re-evaluate my professional goals. I can ask whatever questions I want to people who are in positions that my career could lead to (assuming I follow the classic journalism path), and I can use their answers to decide if that’s what I want to do.

I’ve come to such mixed conclusions from the meetings. Some have made me want to do something different from journalism like acting or design, but others have made me want to dive into the journalism field and become a reporter. I’ve realized my desire to act, perform and entertain so much more over the past few weeks, and I’ve also felt scared away from the risky career that journalism is. I enjoy taking risks, but to what extent and in what ways? However, from our meeting with the AP a while back to one of our recent museum visits, I have also realized my desire for the latter.

We recently visited the Newseum. It was fascinating. There were newspapers from the 1800s, all the Pulitzer Prize photographs, a video featuring breaking news over the years, and even a real section of the Berlin wall. The artifacts were intriguing, and I couldn’t help but think about how awesome it’d be to get to be a part of that history — to get to be featured in the Newseum. I learned about a reporter (whose name I can’t remember now, unfortunately) who left his apartment as soon as he saw the first plane hit during 9-11 and ran toward the site. He captured incredible photos of the devastating event, and despite being so close to the buildings, he just kept running forward and capturing the moment. Sadly, he died in action, but his photos have lived on for years. The only reason his images were collected is because his friend and fellow photographer retrieved his camera and materials after it all happened. A sad but incredible story, I thought.

Now, if I were to become a reporter, my story likely wouldn’t become anything like that, but who knows? I really like the idea of being able to capture an impactful moment in a photo and to spread a message to people through that. I understand the power of photography and think I have what it takes to utilize it. There was a quote in the Pulitzer Prize room that beautifully articulated this:

“If it makes you laugh, if it makes you cry, if it rips out your heart, that’s a good picture.”

Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Eddie Adams

I also stumbled upon this quote that inspired and motivated me (in general):

“I know of no human being who has a better time than an eager and energetic young reporter.”

H.L. Mencken, journalist and social critic

So I guess these could be reason enough to continue pursuing journalism. I am eager and energetic, and I already have a drive for the work, so maybe I should become a reporter. I believe, though, that whatever career I go into straight out college will not be the end-all-be-all. With so many passions, goals, and motives stirring inside me, there’s no way that I’ll only have one job for the rest of my life. (I mean, I’m a 7 on the Enneagram test, so if that tells you anything about my personality it’s that I thrive on new and different experiences.) So maybe I will be a reporter, and maybe I will also do something else. I guess we’ll just have to see where God leads me.

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