We made it back home! At 4 a.m. we were sleepily stepping off the bus into downtown Charleston.
Let me give you the highlights of Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday was full. Full. We visited the National Women's Political Caucus, EMILY's List, did a tour of the Capitol building, met Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, and visited with the Women's Office of USAID.
To the left you'll see us at one of our few moments of down time in the day Tuesday, enjoying some second breakfast at a capitalist coffee bohemoth that can be found every block or so in DC. This wasn't a planned event, but it was one of the best moments of the trip for me. We were all caffeinated and energized, and we were able to get to know each other a bit before we headed off to EMILY's List (an organization that is probably one of the wealthiest places we visited).
Probably the biggest highlight for most of us was Wednesday morning, when we toured the White House. The tour of the White House isn't that exciting--you only get to see the fancy dining rooms and parlors, filled with beautiful furniture. I'm never all that impressed by fancy dining rooms and parlors. While we were there, though, a guy in a suit strolled casually by.
"There goes Timothy Geithner," says Marguerite. We all look at her expectantly. "The Secretary of the Treasury." Whoa! He obviously just left a meeting with Obama.
Then as we're examining super-detailed wallpaper in some unused room, the guard says, "You might want to head to the window. Marine One is landing." Lo and behold, the President's helicopter lands, and a few minutes later--while all our faces are pressed to the windows--Obama strolls out of the Oval Office, waves at all of us, boards the helicopter, and flies away.
We split up and visited monuments and ate lunch, and we met back at the Department of Labor, where the students got to hear from a number of folks who work for the Office of Women's Affairs while I stood out in the hall managing phone calls from the bus company and the bus driver, who were trying to deal with the fact that our bus had broken down.
Short end of the story: we ate pizza in our pajamas at the bus driver's hotel, then we loaded up in the repaired bus and made it back to Charleston by 4 a.m. A great trip, and ten out of the 27 students told me they're considering running for office now.