May 28, 2011

Miami women's swimming's Mandi Grandjean (Canton) has begun her unique experience in the national's capital, Washington D.C. During her nine weeks, she'll be submitting periodic blog updates about her adventure. Here is her first entry.


I was accepted into the Inside Washington Program over Thanksgiving break this past semester. This nine-week program is pretty remarkable. I am here with 23 other Miami students, all interested in Political Science, Journalism or Communications. Dr. Howard Kleiman is the Miami faculty director and really puts a lot of hard work and effort into making this program what it is. I left Ohio on Friday (May 20) and moved into my apartment on Connecticut Avenue on Saturday.

Basically, for the first three weeks of the program, we are in class from 8:30 a.m. with either Mr. Chad Pergram, a Miami alum and Fox Capitol Hill producer who is very influential in Washington, Dr. Kleiman or Dr. John Splaine, who was a professor at the University of Maryland. Class ends around 11:30 everyday. After a short break for lunch, we will then travel to our speakers for that day. Because of Chad and Dr. Kleiman and their various connections we are able to meet with the nation's most influential people.

Last Monday after class we went to Capitol Hill and took a special tour of the Capitol. I had never been inside the Capitol before so I was pretty excited to see the original chamber that the Supreme Court utilized and the old House and Senate chambers as well. The passion for history in Washington is evident everywhere you go.

After the tour we met with Mike Mastrian, the director of the Senate Radio-TV Gallery, photojournalist and blogger Lauren Burke, and Bureau of National Affairs financial analyst Johnathon Nicholson.

After all of the speakers, the day ended at about 6:30. The days are pretty long, and you are constantly critically thinking and listening and taking in all of the information and various people you meet. So I have been mentally and physically exhausted by the time the day is over.

Tuesday was especially exciting. Each student in the program is assigned two-to-three speakers to research thoroughly, write a report on for the rest of the program, introduce and ask questions. I was assigned Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) and we were meeting with him on this day so I was pretty nervous going into Tuesday.

After class that morning, we went to the FCC and talked with two of the Commissioners, legal assistants Brad Gillen and Angela Kronenberg. This was interesting because of the recent media attention to Commissioner Baker who recently left the agency and accepted a job with Comcast. Because I took Administrative Law last semester, I was able to apply a lot of the concepts I learned in that class to the interview.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) was our next speaker and this was particularly interesting not only because of the popularity of this Representative but also because there has been talk of her potentially going for the Presidential nomination for 2012. We met with her on the steps of the Capitol. I personally questioned her about President Obama's recent Middle East speech which called for the return of the 1967 borders between Israel and the Palestinians. She has publicly criticized him for his stance and I wanted to know what her solution would be. Meeting Rep. Bachmann was a very exciting experience for all of us.

I am a double major in Journalism and Political Science and want to focus on Foreign Policy, so our next speaker really had an impact on me. Josh Rogin is journalist for Foreign Policy magazine on the Hill. Everyone loved Mr. Rogin and his objective and non-partisan approach to what is going on in the world, especially in the Middle East.

We met with Rep. Charlie Rangel after this. Rep. Rangel was extremely interesting since he he has served in Congress for 40 years and is currently in his 21st term. He spoke with us for about 45 minutes about a variety of different topics.

Since arriving, I have also been able to travel around the city and visit historically important sites, from Arlington National Cemetery to the Watergate complex. Other people that we have met and spoke with thus far that I have really enjoyed have been Brian Lamb, CEO of C-SPAN, Julian Mulvey of DevineMulvey, media firm, and today we met with Terry Gainer, Senate Sergeant at Arms.

We were able to get into the Senate chamber today and watch them vote to extend the Patriot Act. This was very exciting as we got to experience an actual vote and we were able to see popular senators like Senator John McCain and Senator John Kerry. Senator Sherrod Brown came up to the Senate balcony to talk with us which was also very interesting.

So far this experience has already been amazing and it is only the first week!