Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Final Word...

Hello readers! Long time, no see!

We have left the Pilgrimage and Washington D.C. and are currently at the Blue Mountain Lodge in Knoxville, Maryland. We're here till Tuesday when we head back to Birmingham via plane. The purpose of our stay here is just to relax and reflect on our time in the District before entering the "real world" again. So far, we have enjoyed a morning of silence, group and individual reflections, yoga, and some delicious food prepared by the lodge's owner.

Our last entry left us wrapping up Day 12 of the journey. By this point, we'd been to all of the organizations at least once, and were looking forward to revisiting.

Day 13

MLK Day- One of our less strenuous days, we had the morning free and then headed to DCCK for the night co-op shift. Then, free time! More museum visits (update on favorites to come!), shopping in Adams Morgan, or just restful afternoons.

Day 14

We went to Food and Friends for the second time and worked in two groups, some in the kitchen and some outside doing ground maintenance. In the afternoon, we took a tour of the Capitol building. We unfortunately did not meet any Senators or see the meeting rooms currently in use, but seeing the original meeting rooms of the Senate and House was exciting. Once again, connecting our service experiences to advocacy has been very beneficial to understanding our work here more completely.

Day 15

Some of the group went to DCCK in the morning for an optional shift, as the Kitchen had just received a large donation and needed volunteers. But the group met back at the Capitol that afternoon for a photo with AL Sen. Jeff Sessions and then headed over to AL Rep. Artur Davis' office. Big day. Unfortunately, Rep. Davis was not in town, but we were able to meet with his Chief-of-Staff and ask questions that we had for the Congressman about homeless advocacy and other things on our minds. For more information about legislation concerning homelessness, go to the webpage for the National Alliance to End Homelessness

Day 16

We had a morning shift at DCCK, and this was our last time to be working there. After eating the provided lunch, we chased down the staff we'd grown close to for pictures. We think we can probably speak for everyone when we say that we'd love to visit and volunteer at DCCK in the future and hope this won't be our last time. We even offered some of the staff t-shirts from our trip, so hopefully they will never forget us. Yes, they are booked with volunteers until June so they see quite a few people, but we like to think our Southern charm rubs off on people.

The rest of the day was free so we took advantage by visiting museums and monuments we hadn't gotten to yet. (Again...keep reading to find out favorites!)

Day 17

Our last day of service in D.C. We split up into two groups to work at Thrive DC and Martha's Table. The team then met up for lunch at Ben's Chili Bowl on U Street, enjoying chili in various forms and taking advantage of the gift shop of the local favored restaurant. Once again, we took the rest of the day for one last round of sight-seeing. Our last day was sad, but I think the team all agreed that the lack of sweet tea and Southern accents was starting to get a little tiresome. We will be excited to come home...

Day 18

The team woke up for cleaning and packing and headed out to the Lodge in a Yukon and 12 passenger bus. When asked beforehand who the better driver was, Kent assured us it was him, but only because of his age. An hour and a half later, we arrived at the house in Knoxville and settled in for the short stay.

Day 19

Started off today with a few hours of silence. We all took advantage of this in different ways, taking walks, reading, collecting thoughts in our journals. We came together for a writing exercise and then had a yoga session. After yet another delicious supper and stimulating reflection, we are wrapping up the night with some rowdy games of Family, Spoons, and various other competitive games. We are still trying to figure out how to beat Mike Popwell at poker, but so go.

AND NOW, THE MOMENT YOU'VE BEEN WAITING FOR! Our nominations and final vote on favorite tourist attraction in D.C. The Washington Post wants this information as well, so feel privileged to receive it first.

And the nominees are...

Holocaust Museum-
"Capitol Steps" Political Comedy Show
Lincoln Memorial
Mt Vernon
The U.S. Capitol
Alexandria (Old Town)
White House
Real World House
National Museum of the American Indian
National Museum of American History
Library of Congress
Ice Skating
Folger Shakespeare Library
Air and Space Museum
Natural History Museum
Portrait Gallery
The D.C. Metro

And the winner is...

A TIE! Between the Lincoln Memorial and the Holocaust Museum!!

All in all, we saw too many wonderful things to really decide on a favorite. But for the sake of remembering some of what made our trip so fun, we thought the list might help.

In closing...we thought we would leave you with the quote that helped begin, inspire, and complete this trip:

"Do your little bit of good where you are, it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world."
-Desmond Tutu

Thank you all so very much for your loyal reading!

With love from Harpers Ferry,

The 2010 Service Learning Interim to Washington D.C.

p.s....we WILL finish the spotlights. Not to worry :)

p.p.s.- Sara Doughton FINALLY won a game of Family. We can now all go home happy.