On July 12th, 112 International Fellows from 62 countries and 73 of their family members toured the DC Memorials as part of a local field studies practicum. Before the tour, Fellows received a lecture from American Studies Coordinator Michael Shrout about the history of Washington, DC as a federal city and how it became the Nation’s capital.
During the tour, experienced guides accompanied Fellows and their families providing them a historical and cultural context about each of the sites visited, including the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, Korean War Memorial, the Marine Corps War Memorial, the World War II Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, and the Martin Luther King Memorial. Fellows and their families had the opportunity to have a picnic lunch together on the National Mall at the foot of the Washington Monument. At the conclusion of the tour, Fellows and their families returned to the ISMO patio for a potluck cook-out where they met their sponsor families from the community.
Feedback from Fellows after the tour demonstrated the educational value of the tour to the Fellows and their families. One Fellow said that even though he’d been to Washington, DC before that he’d never had the opportunity to tour the monuments and learn about their significance. As part of their summer American Studies Course on the foundations of American history, Fellows are required to write a paper about their initial impressions of the United States in relation to the eleven DoD-mandated objectives for Field Studies Programs (Human Rights, Law of War, International Peace and Security, US Government Institutions, US Political Processes, US Judicial System, US Free Market System, Media and the Free Press, Diversity and American Life, US Health and Human Services, and the US Education System).
Several Fellows are using their experiences on the monuments tour to inform their respective writing assignments - commenting on how Americans commemorate important events in their history and the wars they fought in. For the children on the trip, the monument tour gave an orientation to significant symbols and events in American history which will serve as a reference point as they prepare to join their American classmates in local schools this coming fall. The joy and wonder on their faces said it all. Just as significantly, the tour provided an opportunity for Fellows, their spouses, and children to get to know each other and build relationships after just two weeks in the United States.
Funding from the NDU Foundation helped defray the cost of the two additional buses and guides required for family member participation resulting in more spouses and children joining the tour than might have otherwise done so. A big thanks to the NDU Foundation for helping to foster friends of the United States across the globe.