Arriving in D.C. at 10:40, the Literacy Fellows embarked on their adventure. After checking in at the hotel, Ms. Johnson held a quick meeting and we grabbed a bite at Z-Burger where we had a delicious meal. Right next door to Z-Burger was our next stop, 826DC. With a magic store as its storefront, 826DC is a non-profit organization that tutors young kids and provides writing workshops. Ms. Khorsand, the Program Manager at 826DC, told us about all 826DC does and how it came to be.
Once we said goodbye to 826DC, we took the metro to The Postal Museum. There there was an exhibit of postcards called PostSecret. People from across the world anonymously confessed their secrets on the postcards they wrote. When we finished looking at the letters, we took the metro back to the hotel.
Dinner did not disappoint at Busboys and Poets. The food was delicious. A Barnes and Noble was located nearby, so we also ran in there for a few minutes. After dinner, we were moved to a different room where we watched an open mike night, hosted by Orville the poet. The first performance took us all by surprise, when a man walked on stage and started singing. After the first performance, though, many others came on stage and recited their own poems, mostly by memory. It was unlike anything we had seen before and was so eye-opening. After a late night, we hopped on the metro and headed to the hotel to call it a day.
After we had our daily meeting, the Literacy Fellows headed off the the N.P.R. headquarters. We received a tour of the facility, and got to see the technology, people, and hard work it takes to keep the entire country up to date with the latest news. Afterwards, we headed a few blocks down to a street lined with food trucks for lunch.
During the afternoon, we were given the privilege of meeting with Mark Heckler, the founder of an amazing non-profit called Reach Incorporated. The organization works with schools to identify underprivileged teens in Washington D.C. with below average reading levels and hires them as tutors for younger children, which in turn raises the success of all the students in the program. We got to meet some of the tutors who gave us some insight on how much the charity impacts people’s lives. We then went to an author book reading at the bookstore Politics and Prose and met up with the International Relations Fellows, who had dinner with us as well. We then headed back to our hotel to get some rest for the long and eventful day ahead!
On our third day in historic Washington D.C., we woke up early to meet Ms.Johnson and Dr. Kidd at our usual meeting spot in Ms. Johnson’s room, affectionately known as ‘Club 308’. After our daily morning meeting, which in included our group morale check, job assignment and philosophical question of the day, we embarked on a journey to see some of the most important works of literature in our country’s history at the National Archive.We walked to the metro and caught a subway to the Archive.
Thirty minutes later we entered the Archive and were amazed to see first hand the documents that wrote America into existence. After viewing these inspirational documents, we continued on to the cafe across the road at the National Gallery of Art. After finishing, we followed our lunch with icy gelato. When our stomaches were full, we took the metro to downtown DC and headed to the headquarters of the empowering non-profit, First Book.
At the First Book headquarters, we spoke with Candace Radoski,the Director of Partner Development at the non-profit organization. She, along with her partner Caroline, talked to us about the mission of First Book and how they were successfully able to distribute books at staggeringly low prices to educators in low income schools and families in order to make literacy more accessible to these impoverished communities. By giving these children access to books they would not otherwise have, First Book is giving them a chance at a better and more empowered future. This conference was an eye-opening experience for us. We realized that not every child grows up in a warm and caring home where a myriad of books are available at their fingertips. After hearing this presentation we wanted to know how we could help! Caroline took the floor and introduced us to the First Book Fundly, at website used for raising money to buy books for the school of our choice. This inspired the Literacy Fellows to start our own Fundly for First Book when the school year starts. We then took a tour of First Book and were amazed to see what went on behind the scenes of such a life-changing organization.
Brimming with inspiration, knowledge and purpose, we headed back to our hotel to rest for a few hours before heading for a night of shopping in Georgetown. We all took an Uber and arrived in Georgetown just in time for dinner at Johnny Rockets. After dinner, we went to shopping and then caught another Uber and headed back to the hotel for a good night of sleep.