We’re adding a special feature this semester! For the first time, three of our students are studying in Washington, D.C. at the same time through the American Studies Program. Throughout the semester, Suzanna Bregar, senior history major; Madi Carper, junior history major; and Kaitlyn Stump, senior history major will be taking turns blogging about their experiences studying in our nation’s capital.
The Washington, D.C. American Studies Program is an experiential learning semester which brings together students from the many campuses affiliated with the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.
The students are housed in the Dellenbeck Center, eight blocks from the Capitol Building (I can see the tip of the dome from my apartment). The Washington Journalism Center is housed in the same building. This year there are 27 students enrolled in both programs, representing 18 different colleges and universities.
The ASP students are taking two courses in leadership and public policy. Beginning September 16, we will also be going to various internships on Capitol Hill or at the many museums, government organizations, and non-profits in the city.
The mission of ASP is to get students to see both sides of the city: the federal Washington as well as the districts which make up D.C. The image most people have of Washington, D.C. is the federal Washington where the president lives and power lies. On the other side are the people who reside in the district, care about the city, and enjoy walking their dogs in the parks.
There is also poverty in the district and a changing population which is become more and more diverse because of incoming immigrants. These groups are remaking what the districts look like. In DC, 18.5% of people are living below the poverty level, compared to 14.9% nationally. Over half of DC residents are minorities, compared to less than a quarter nationally. (U.S. Census Bureau)
I have had wonderful encounters serving and talking with these people, from the boys I’ve tutored at Little Lights to a talented cellist I met playing on the street and a Venezuelan Christian working a hot dog stand.
This is an experience that can be taken to any part of the world, even back to Canton. There is the “Malone Bubble” which everyone would like to preserve in some form. But if you venture outside the safe space, even just across the street to Planned Parenthood or the homeless men on the corner, there are stories of fear and abandonment which Christians are called to minister to.
I would encourage Malone students to plug-in to their communities early and not to let their service end with Into the Streets. Malone offers many opportunities for community service. Building community with like-minded individuals is important for feeling a sense of belonging and investing in service to others is a wonderful way to do this.
Kaitlyn Stump is a senior history major.