Betty Takes Washington DC: Day 5

Meeting the Senators…

Day 5: Wednesday


Lieutenant General Joseph Lengyel: Air National Guard

Aluwani Museisi- First Secretary: Socio-Economic and Development Embassy of South Africa

Unfortunately this morning Secretary Chuck Hagel of the Department of Defense was unable to join us. Instead Lengyel of the Air National Guard spoke in his place. Lengyel gave us the unique career option of being in the National Guard, in which you can maintain your civilian life while serving your state at the same time. Personally, I had never thought of this pathway myself but it is very interesting. He also spoke about the military-industrial complex, which I consider myself rather well versed on due to our extensive coverage of it in American Government.

After hearing about our military from INSERT NAME HERE, we went to our defense’s nerve center: the Pentagon. We went to pay our respect to those who perished during the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon. The modern benches, crunchy gravel, and bubbling water features provided the perfect backdrop for pensive reflection. It is incredible to think that my grade, the class of 2014, is the last to truly remember September 11, 2001. Many of the juniors and younger seniors have no reflection of the tragic events of that fateful day.

During lunch we heard from our first speaker in public service, Aluwani Museisi. He is a young, black man from South Africa. His speech itself focused on Nelson Mandela, adding another tribute to the great man I have heard this year. I was most interested in Museisi’s Q&A session. While many delegates are extremely knowledgeable in general, I feel like they were a little ignorant to South Africa. While it does have underdeveloped and extremely impoverished areas, many failed to realize it was the largest economic power in Africa. They also failed to recognize the enormous strides South Africa has taken in civil rights and racial equality since Apartheid ended in 1994, only twenty years ago! Our nation has had fifty years to change our behaviors since the civil rights movement, and we are still not perfect today.

Museisi was very inspiring. In another unfortunate question someone asked about South Africa’s religious problems, which are not very concerning due to their country’s constitutionally guaranteed religious freedom. However, this question was somewhat salvaged by Museisi’s amazing quote, “ Before we start praying, we’re all human beings.” This quote particularly spoke to me out of the numerous beautiful and insightful things Museisi said.

The last thing on the agenda was the Hearst’s foundations big shindig: The USSYP Annual Reception. This Reception, held in the Kennedy Caucus Room in the Russell Senate Office Building. The event was very organized. As a senator walked in, the delegates from their state were grabbed. Photos were taken of us shaking hand with our senator and officially with our certificates, which they signed. After that process was over, if your senator wished they could stay and talk over our yummy food spread. Fortunately for me, both Senator Jerry Moran and Senator Pat Roberts made an appearance. Caleb Hurst and I enjoyed getting to speak to them a bit each very much. I also did an interview for KMBC news but am not sure if it ever aired or not.

In my fun observation of the day I would like to not that they give us coffee at every single meal. This is amazing as they give us such a packed scheduled. Many of us have speculated on if this is a USSYP thing, or a Washington DC thing in general. It would make perfect sense if it is a Washington thing in general, as everyone is so busy all the time here.