UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State students visited Washington, D.C. the weekend of April 1-3 as part of a trip planned by the Global Engagement Team within Penn State Global. The trip revolved around visiting historical and cultural sites in D.C., as well as attending the Cherry Blossom Festival. The student group was a diverse mixture of students from across the commonwealth, with 30 domestic students and 145 international students representing 31 countries.
The trip was open to students from all Penn State campuses at all academic levels. There were 128 undergraduate and 47 graduate students on the trip.
The event kicked off with a group dinner and icebreaker activities for the students to get to know each other. Then, the next day, the students traveled around D.C., visiting the Capitol building, Museum of the American Indian, Botanical Gardens, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, Museum of Natural History, many monuments, and of course, the cherry blossoms.
“This visit taught me a lot about American history, with the cherry blossoms providing the most scenic setting to it all,” said one of the students.
Penn State Global provides many opportunities for international and domestic students to undergo experiences together, such as the Global Engagement and Leadership Experience (GELE). Ryan Geiger, Global Engagement Coordinator who organized the D.C. trip, also took a large group of domestic and international students to the battlefields at Gettysburg last year.
It was an amazing trip and incredible occasion to meet people from a lot of different countries, and to visit the city while having fun!
—Penn State student
“It’s not a small undertaking to coordinate bringing students across multiple campuses on a trip of this scale,” said Geiger. “The trip was a tremendous success through the planning and support of my colleagues on the Global Engagement Team.”
History was very popular among the students and was a big reason for the trip.
“I have led several trips to Washington, D.C. throughout my career. The students enjoy the trip because of the history and culture that Washington, D.C., a global city, provides; it is a nice (and usually sunny and warm) break from the cold winter we just experienced in Pennsylvania, and the added beauty the cherry blossoms bring,” said Geiger.
The students said they also made some unexpected friendships.
“It was an amazing trip and incredible occasion to meet people from a lot of different countries and to visit the city while having fun! I definitely recommend people to join activities like this. I decided to join alone and by the end of the weekend I got a lot of new friends,” said one student.
Another student said, “Even though I intended to go on the trip with my friends, the best part of the trip was when I got separated from my friends, which then forced me to make a new one. Only after I spent the whole day with my new friend did I realize that the point of the trip wasn't to hang out with your friends, but to meet new ones."
The morning after the trip, the group spent time learning about each other’s experiences by playing a game to figure out who among them had gotten lost, visited a religious site, visited their home country’s embassy, and more.
Overall, the students said they loved the trip.
“A fun trip to D.C., away from the pressure of school was like the best-ever gift from college,” said one student.
“It was a really awesome stress-free trip that helped me get away for a weekend,” said another.
Geiger and the rest of the Global Engagement Team are already looking at planning the next outing.
“Students have already let us know other places they’d like to visit, like Nashville, Boston, and Chicago,” said Geiger. “We’re excited to provide opportunities for both international and domestic students to engage with American history and culture.”
For more information, contact Ryan Geiger at [email protected].