Today—well, yesterday—was a good day. I woke up around 6:20, and got up around 6:40, after which I dressed up and headed down to breakfast. I ate breakfast quickly, ran back up to get something I forgot, and eventually time came to participate in an activity by an organization called WeListen.
This activity was one which encouraged civil discourse—the topic focused on that of free speech. The group mostly agreed that regulation of speech should not be done by legislation, but rather by people determining what they personally disagree and agree with. The discussion became fuzzier with time—people failed to extricate discussions of social vs. political value, and one ended up advocating for the use of slurs seemingly unintentionally. This was discouraging, but all-in-all the discussion was okay, and it was quick, so that was good at least.
From there, we attended an event at the White House. The buses moved past initial White House barriers, and then we walked through checkpoint after checkpoint before entering the building, at which point the whole experience became somewhat surreal. Some interesting things occurred before the photo session—repeated and excessive exhortation for scholars to do very certain things, and the varying political gear that scholars were wearing which had to be covered, removed, or, in the case of one particularly principled individual, resulted in the removal of the scholar from the photo themselves. After significant wait and some “conversation” with Secretary DeVos, we got our photo with the President of the United States of America (after he talked a little bit about this stock market),1 and then left the premises.
I was extremely tired by this point, and we returned to Georgetown, where my group and a few others went to a sandwich shop nearby. I had a long and personal conversation with some friends there,2 and we eventually moved back to the dorm where I changed quickly into something more performance-attending appropriate (including my pride pin) and we headed out to the monument tour.
The monument tour, as a result of various NSB monument tours, was fairly unspectacular, although I did finally get to see a new monument: World War II. From there, we went to a very good dinner with the alumni association where I talked to a lot of people and learned a little bit, although the lack of chairs and everything made the whole situation a bit of a nightmare. (This occurred along with a little bit of other kerfuffle, which was mildly stressful.) Then, finally, the performance. A Salute to the 2019 Presidential Scholars.
We read some of the arts scholars written work and saw some of their photography and paintings before we lined up and headed into the performance. This performance was phenomenal from beginning to end, including contemporary pieces and some based of more classical stuff, all performed at the highest possible level. Words fail to describe the experience, so I will merely say that my jaw was dropped for most of the performance, and I was moved to tears on various occasions.3 It truly was amazing.
This concluded official events for NRP, but we had some shenanigans and games in the dorm. After these proved to be a little too much, one guy and I walked around the dorm for a little bit before settling in my room to hold a more extended conversation. I then managed to keep myself awake by talking to an RSI alum and some other people, and eventually we headed up on top of a roof for sunrise, which was sadly obscured by clouds. Now, a lot of people have left, and I am about to leave too. It has been the first time I have not slept in 24 hours, so my all-nighter is officially complete, although I will only sleep when I reach the plane.4 Exciting times ahead, I suppose.
Tomorrow—well, today—first bedcheck and whatnot. I’m very, very, very, very excited.
Note (2021): he told us, and I quote, to “have a nice life.” ↩
Note (2021): i.e., I literally told these two people who I had met within the past 24 hours or so my entire life story. ↩
Note (2021): I fell asleep in the Uber on the way to the airport and continued to pass in and out of consciousness in DCA. ↩