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Stories to Tell and Stories to be Told: Students in Washington. D.C.
Charlotte Steffensen '25 Staff Writer
March 4, 2022
Credit: Ms. La Puma

Every year, the Center for Service and Global Citizenship (CSGC) offers a series of travel programs that aim to give students an opportunity to explore new perspectives on topics they are interested in. Each faculty-led trip requires any students who want to participate to submit an application that details the reasons why they are curious about the trip and why they want to attend. This year’s offerings include many upcoming trips over spring break, and a recent trip to Washington D.C. over Long Winter Weekend.

Twenty four students and three faculty members attended the Washington D.C. trip. The theme was Stories to Learn and Stories to be Told, with a cumulative goal of understanding unheard experiences and varying perspectives surrounding civil discourse. The group of students met with congressman Jim McGovern, a Western Massachusetts representative. Additionally, the group went to the Republican National Committee to meet with politicians including Lee Zeldin, a representative from New York who is running for governor. The group visited three museums: the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the National Museum of the American Indian, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. On Saturday, the students, alongside a group of Deerfield alumni, watched a Washington Wizards basketball game at Capital One Arena in Chinatown. Finally, at the end of their last day in D.C., the students visited Mary House, a non- profit organization that provides housing and aid for refugees in the Washington D.C. area.

When planning for this trip, the safety risks of COVID-19 definitely posed a central concern. Faculty trip leader and Dean of Ethical and Spiritual Life Jan Flaska stated that the faculty members “needed to have a plan for a positive test while on the road”. Therefore, Mr. Flaska rented a minivan to pick up any students who exhibited COVID-19 symptoms or had tested positive before departure. Deerfield also reserved a separate hotel room for any quarantining students. Thankfully, none of the students exhibited symptoms during their time in Washington D.C., nor did any test positive after returning from the trip.

In contacting politicians and reserving museum tickets, the faculty members worked to incorporate multiple political viewpoints and stories that are not frequently portrayed in the media into the daily activity plan. Mr. Flaska said that one of the many ways he contacted politicians to talk with the student group was asking people with “connections at Deerfield to folks that know people in the Trump administration.” Furthermore, with the astounding number of educational museums near the National Mall, selecting the few to explore was difficult.

Mr. Flaska usually leads a trip to a Native American First Nations Reservation in Canada, but unfortunately wasn’t able to travel internationally due to COVID-19. The idea to visit the National Museum of the American Indian came from his previous trips to Montreal. Mr. Flaska also said that he had been to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum before and that it was a powerful experience, so he thought that it would be valuable to include it in the trip.

Ella Moriarty ’25, who went on the trip, said, “One thing that is really great about Deerfield is that you have people coming from all different backgrounds. When you have a group of people that are all unalike to a certain degree, having and fostering experiences that talk about justice, passion, and acknowledgment it is really cool.”

The participants of the trip were thus able to meet and engage in meaningful discussions navigating different perspectives. Ultimately, the D.C. trip displays the spirit of the CSGC, whose trips provide students with valuable learning experiences and opportunities to form new, invaluable bonds with people from diverse walks of life.