Students board the airplane as they anxiously await their trip to Washington D.C. They have been looking forward to this trip for months, and now they can finally experience a week that they will never forget. Throughout the week they will get the opportunity to learn all about the political structure of our country.
“Close Up opens your eyes to different ways to live life outside of Katy, Texas, and maybe opens your eyes to new jobs or internships during the summer or in between college semesters,” said AP US History teacher Christina Ferrari. “There are just so many opportunities out there and most people don’t have any idea what they are outside of their own general perspective.”
Close Up is a civic education program that was founded in 1971. The nonprofit organization has had over 900,000 students and teachers on the trip, and is still one of the best ways to learn about our nation’s democracy. Close Up provides students with the chance to meet important political figures, visit famous monuments, and watch intellectual debates between conservative and liberal politicians.
“You get to meet a lot of people that have to do with the career you are interested in,” said senior Ariana Labarca. “You get to see where they work and what their days are like, which is really good for a career you might want to pursue.”
The trip starts on January 19th, and ends on January 24th. There is a schedule of activities the students do each day, and they travel to multiple different sites throughout the week to help them learn all about the way our government functions. Museums, memorial study visits, and senators’ offices are just a few of the many places these students get to visit on their tour of D.C.
“Close Up is a really good opportunity to learn about the way our government is structured,” said Labarca. “I think that in our generation a lot of people don’t know what’s going on with politics and what is going on with the people in power. I feel like that is something really important to be informed about.”
Capitol Hill Day is usually ranked as a favorite among the students. They get to go to the Capitol Visitor Center and Supreme Court, and then split up into groups and get involved with issues that are important to them. Students get to discuss their political opinions with other students from all over the U.S. that are also interested in those topics, enhancing their knowledge on the subject and encouraging a different viewpoint.
“The aftermath of the trip is probably my favorite,” said Ferrari. “Just the general excitement students get, especially for kids that haven’t been to Washington, D.C. before. It really is an unforgettable experience for them.”
Close Up is a golden ticket to learning about everything that is needed to know about politics and government. It not only looks amazing on college resumes, but it also provides a head-start for what job students are interested in. Close Up can make a big difference for students who don’t know what career path they want to be on.
“You can make choices about what you want to do with your life while you are there and then take yourself in the direction that it would ultimately lead you in,” said Ferrari. “Close Up helps make that decision easier for you.”
On Thursday, the last full day of their trip, students go to a few more sites and study visits before attending a banquet and dance with all the new friends they have made throughout the week. The next day they will come home with exciting stories of how they spent their time in Washington D.C., and share insight they gained about our country’s democracy.
“Sometimes being young isn’t just deciding what university you want to go to or what job you want to do, but what direction you want your future to go in and what the path is to be able to get there,” said Ferrari.