Tuesday, February 19, 2013

LCI students witness democracy in action at U.S. Capitol

A docent talks with LCI students in the Rotunda at the U.S. Capitol in Washington.

On Wednesday, Feb. 6, the Language and Culture Institute in Falls Church took its 100 students on a field trip to the U.S. Capitol and the U.S. Botanic Garden.

After getting off the Metro, our first stop was the Botanic Garden, the oldest continually operating botanic garden in the country. It is home to almost 10,000 living specimens, some of which are more than 165 years old. From roses to orchids, the rain forest to the rare and endangered plants, we found a world of plants and environments in their diversity of form, color, and fragrance that reminded us that plants make our lives possible and enjoyable.

After an hour touring this magnificent place and taking thousands of pictures, we headed toward the Capitol Building.

The Capitol, one of the most architecturally impressive and symbolically important buildings in the world, stands as a monument not only to its builders but also to the American people and their government. After going through the screening process, we went down to Emancipation Hall (PDF), where we got our passes.

The statues and busts in the Rotunda are primarily of presidents.
 The introductory film, "Out of Many, One," was an inspiring kickoff to the tour. It gave us a historical overview of the Capitol and a history of the Congress.

Next, we were split into groups, given headsets, and taken to various areas inside the Capitol by the docents. Of all the areas, the students thought the Rotunda, with its giant paintings and statues of some of the most important characters in U.S. history, was the most impressive.

The final exciting moment was when we got the passes to see the House of Representatives in session. As we watched Republican U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert deliver a speech, we felt like we were witnessing history in the making.

Instructors pose with their passes to see the U.S. House of Representatives chamber.

On this day, we indeed did something extraordinary. We got a glimpse inside the building that symbolizes the greatest representative democracy in the world. We were all very pleased to have this unique and exciting opportunity.