Day one of the actual conference was pretty fun! It started out really early, at 6 am, when I had to figure out how to tie a tie. I had tied one a few times on myself before I left to DC, but never when wearing a nice shirt. I knew in theory how to tie a tie, so all that was left was the practical application. I think I did pretty good for my first time, which you will be able to see later today when I upload some pictures.
The conference began at 8:15, but things really didn't get started until 11 am. The first 3 hours was full of stuff like 'make sure, when you are at the bar, that you do not leave your drink unattended'. Sage advice to be sure, but since all of us live in college towns, it is advice most of us have heard a million times.
The first speaker was Dana Bash of CNN. It was really interesting to hear about her covering the John McCain campaign and other news stories. She also gave insight as to what the difference in covering the White House and Congress is. Apparently the White House has a more controlled operation and it is harder to get access whereas in Congress it is more cordial and easier to get scoops. Definitely makes sense seeing as there are few communications people in the White House as opposed to 435 legislators and their staffs with which to talk to.
We also heard from Steven Bell and Michael Genovese. Mr. Bell is a professor at Ball State and Mr. Genovese at Loyola Marymont. Their presentations were short and mostly set the scene for their presentations throughout the week.
After lunch, we went on a sightseeing trip throughout Washington. Even though I have been two DC twice before, it was nice to get to see some monuments for the second (or third time) while I saw some for the first. We saw the Korean War Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, World War II Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, and the FDR Memorial. I liked seeing all of the memorials; it kind of makes the history real for me. Sometimes it seems like some things that I learn in in school, such as history, are abstract; I know it happened, but I do not have any real connection to it. Seeing larger-than-life monuments to the people and times from my history book somehow makes history more tangible and accessable.
The nightlife in DC is cool, too. I am in a group with mostly other Texans, but I have also met people from Wisconsin in my group. We went bowling last night which was fun.
I'm looking forward to the rest of the trip and should have pictures from my first day up sometime today!