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Cuatecontzi ’17 Impressed by Pew Research

Felipe Cuatecontzi ’17 – Mar. 12 was such a busy day. In all, the class made visits to the Pew Research Center, ICANN and NPR. When the day first began, I had a hard time understanding how these organizations could possibly correlate with our class, which focuses on the rhetoric that is present in government and politics. After having discussions with the professionals of these individual organizations, I understood that these organizations were voices that fell into the relationship of government and organizations.

The first place we visited on that Wednesday morning was the Pew Research Center. It was explained to us that the Pew Research Center conducts research and polls to understand the relationship between religion and demographics in the United States. Leading the discussion was Dr. Gregory Smith, director of U.S. Religion Surveys, Religion and Public Life Project. Dr. Smith explained how religion is extremely important to monitor and analyze. Dr. Smith discussed that his research led to the conclusion that religion is the 2nd leading factor when determining the voting patterns of Americans, just behind race. This was very fascinating to hear, but what I found most fascinating was how Dr. Smith also went on to reveal that 1 in 5 Americans have no religious affiliation. These Americans are called “nones” as Dr. Smith labeled them. It was at this point in the discussion that you could notice an increase in question of how and why exactly religion is such an influence in how people vote.

After leaving the Pew Research Center, the class headed over to ICANN, The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. Personally, I think that the acronym rolls of the tongue a little easier. It was at ICANN that we met Patrick Jones ’96, who is a senior director, to engage in a discussion with him. Jones told our class that ICANN aimed at not only connecting Americans domestically, but also internationally. The purpose of ICANN is to manage Internet resources thru the Internet’s domain system.  ICANN has also been aiming to extend its boundaries by connecting with multi-stakeholders and by using certain strategies to overcome obstacles that include language, government and culture ICANN has begun to do so. One thing that I found a little ironic about our visit to ICANN was that the day of our visit also happened to fall on the same date as the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web!

Late Night Walk Impressive as Site Visits

Derek Andre ’16 – Over the past week, 14 Wallys, myself included, had the opportunity to travel to the nation’s Capital as part of a Rhetoric course about the various rhetorical aspects of Washington, DC. Over the course of the week we were able to meet with Senator Joe Donnelly, Representative Luke Messer ’91, visit NPR, America Rising, and Prime Policy Group, and see all the sights that DC has to offer. The trip was designed to provide those of us in the course, entitled Voices of America: the Rhetoric of the Nation’s Capital, the opportunity to view DC firsthand and to take our acquired knowledge back with us so that we can create a final project analyzing some aspect of the District.

Unlike the rest of the group, my project entailed a trip to Nationals Park, the home of the Washington Nationals. For my final project, I plan to analyze the rhetorical constructs surrounding Nationals Park, including the way that the park constructs a history for the young team and how the park plays into the overall rhetoric of DC. For my project, I took a tour of the ballpark, seeing the Presidential Lounge, the Washington Level suites, the clubhouse, and even throwing a pitch in the bullpen. Overall the tour yielded a surprising amount of interesting information and aspects of the stadium that will be useful in the analysis of the ballpark.

While the trip was great for seeing the sights of DC and visiting a number of offices around the District, one of the most memorable moments took place during a discussion I had with our professor Dr. Sara Drury and two of my fellow students. As we were walking between the Korean War Veterans Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial we started discussing the ways those two memorials and the World War Two Memorial conveyed three very different messages when viewed at night. We talked about the lighting of the memorials, the presence or lack thereof of seating, the size and layout, and even the positioning of the three memorials. Without going into copious detail, the conversation embodied the critical thinking that is the backbone of a Wabash education.

I’d like to thank Drs Sara Drury and Shamira Gelbman, Wabash College, my parents, and my classmates for making this phenomenal trip possible. Not only was the trip intellectually stimulating, but I also was able to solidify old friendships and make new ones. Last week when we flew out of Indianapolis I didn’t know what to expect. But one week, six memorials, a Capitol tour, a trip to NPR, and twelve games of euchre later, I can honestly say that an immersion trip to DC was a great way to spend a Spring Break.

Zurek ’16: Immersion Trip Lives Up to Billing

Mason Zurek ’16 – When I was signing up for this class, I was torn between whether or not to take it. I had yet to go on an immersion trip anywhere, but I had not gone on the fabled collegiate Spring Break trip. At the beginning of the immersion trip, as I received numerous Snapchats and texts about the sun, beach, and women, I feared I had made the wrong decision. I figured “Washington DC is not going anywhere soon, but I only have a couple Spring Breaks in college.” Yet, as the week went on, I realized the incredible opportunities that the immersion trip offered me.

Washington D.C. has rhetoric of every type present: political, journalism, media, and public opinion. We studied them all. The politics part is simple: DC is the center of politics in the United States. The Newseum offered a funny and entertaining perspective on journalism and media (there was an Anchorman exhibit). Public opinion was on display when we met with America Rising and heard the procedures and ways opinion is shaped during campaigns. DC is an incredibly rhetoric-rich environment and probably the best place to study for a major like myself.

From meeting with lobbyists who could contact some of the most powerful people in DC with a single phone call to chatting with Representative Messer, a Wabash Phi Delta Theta graduate, the people we met and the things we did were once in a lifetime events. I cannot foresee having another chance to tour the FBI or any of a number of things we did, and I realized the true beauty of the trip was networking: professionally and personally.

On the professional side, I was able to meet and connect with a large number of alumni who were more than happy to offer advice and their business card. Even better was their insight into life in the city and after college. I learned it is quite important to establish yourself young in order to advance later in life.

Personally, I was able to bond with my classmates and fellow Wabash brethren in a new way. The 14 of us went everywhere together and had some discussions that I never would have expected. The Democrats and Republicans sparred on a bunch of issues, gay marriage was debated, and the intricacies of Tinder were brought up at shockingly regular intervals. It was refreshing to go outside of my friend circle and connect so well with other Wallies.

In conclusion, I had an incredible trip. The meetings, camaraderie, and city itself were wonderful. Wabash Immersion Trips are experiences everyone needs to have before they graduate, even if you skip going to Florida.  It is most definitely worth it.

Regnier ’16 Enjoys Library of Congress Visit

Rep. Luke Messer '91 with Wabash Rhetoric Class.

Rep. Luke Messer ’91 with Wabash Rhetoric Class.

Tyler Regnier ’16 – Today was our last day in D.C.  To start the day, Kyle Stucker ‘17 and I toured the Library of Congress.  The tour guide enlightened us with hidden insights about the meaning of the elaborate murals and carvings that fill the Jefferson building of the library. The designer wanted to build something as grandiose and ornate as a European structure, in order to show the European world powers in the 1800’s that the United States could compete with them.  The space certainly conveys power by aesthetically overwhelming one’s senses with massive marble columns and vivid and colorful murals.  The design of the building not only conveys the political power of our nation, but also the power and value of knowledge.  The Great Hall and the Main Reading Room feature murals and sculptures that speak to the different subjects housed in the library.  From corner to corner, the building is filled with symbolism.  For instance, the golden light fixtures at the main entrance to the building have thirteen bulbs to represent the thirteen original states.  Being the first building in D.C. to be wired for electricity, people came to the library just to marvel at the light fixtures.

After lunch we met with Representative Luke Messer (class of ’91) in his office on Capitol Hill.  I think it’s safe to say that the whole group enjoyed sitting down to chat with him.  He gave us a perspective on working on Capitol Hill, trying to balance family and work, as well as keeping his presence in Indiana while in Washington.  As Wabash men often do, we felt a sense of camaraderie as he told us of his days at Wabash as a part of the Wabash football team and a member of Phi Delta Theta.  After our meeting with Representative Messer, we met with Prime Policy Group, one of D.C.’s first truly non-partisan lobbying agencies.

Regnier

Regnier at the Library of Congress

Library To end the day, I visited the major monuments of D.C. with Dr. Karl Grimmer (class of ’03) who now resides in D.C.  The monuments were majestic at night, especially the Jefferson, brightly lit with the wind whistling through the pillars and the sound of the water lightly crashing into the dam.  The Lincoln seemed to really speak to his power and the effect he had on our nation.  With its grand columns, slightly resembling the Parthenon, and the massive, gleaming white statue of Lincoln himself, the monument conveyed his graceful power and immeasurable influence on the U.S.  Almost equally as powerful, was standing in the spot where MLK gave his “I Have a Dream” speech.  With Lincoln over my shoulder, looking out at the moonlit mall where thousands gathered in hope of justice, I got a sense of the pivotal moments in civil rights that have happened in our nation’s capital.  It helped me realize how fitting it was for MLK to give the speech from the steps of the Lincoln memorial, because the only other man that had such a strong and positive effect on civil rights in the U.S. stood right behind him.

Hernandez ’14 Capitalized on Insiders’ View

Alex Hernandez ’14 – Friday was a phenomenal ending our trip. I was able to visit the National Education Association (NEA), National Council of La Raza (NCLR), Indiana House Representative Luke Messer, Prime Policy (a lobbying) Group, and the Human Rights Campaign.

Due to the fact that I had to sign up for an appointment weeks prior to the trip, I was not able to have the grand tours of NAE and NCLR; however, I was still was able to interrogate the front desk on what their organizations stood for and what types of opportunities (i.e. internships and externships) they had, so it was not a total loss because this potentially gives me another reason to go back to D.C.

Following NEA and NCLR, my class and I were able to visit House Representative Messer and the Prime Policy Group.

Being a non-Indiana resident and not familiar with Indiana’s congressional representatives, I did not know who House of Representative Messer was or his platform. On the other hand, the way he interacted with us was pretty neat. Many people believe that politicians or those that hold high offices do not have a laid back personality because they have to continue with the professional façade, however he welcomed us with a big smile and a fraternal environment. He told us about his time at and after Wabash, which gave me a reassurance that Wabash College is worth all these sacrifices, especially being away from home. On a side note, I wonder if my Texas representatives, or even President Barack Obama, are able to interact with people a personal level.

After meeting with Congressman Messer, my class and I got to meet with the Prime Policy Group. Honestly, this group was my favorite of them all because of not only the panel but also because of what they do and what their organization stood for.

The work they did and the message that they conveyed through their organization is very impressive because they work from as much of a collective and bipartisan standpoint as possible. The sense of community that they created was concrete because they had to learn how to hear out and respect opposing ideas and beliefs. Somehow, to paraphrase what they said, we just agree to disagree.  This polarization has weakened our government and society.

Personally, what stood out the most was the sense of unity and humility that our panel portrayed. Everybody in our panel were from different generations and backgrounds, but the way they interacted with each other and with us was just plain awesome. Even though they were from an earlier generation than ours, they were able to interact with each other and us as if they were in their twenties again; their diverse backgrounds and passion for their work, shows that their organization is a place to consider as a potential future workplace.

The Human Rights Campaign was another place that I enjoyed exploring. As a demonstration of the power of Wabash alumni, I was able to explore the organization because my host Gary James had his friend Noel, who works in HRC, take time out of his hectic schedule and give me a personal tour of the organization and the people. The interactions I had and the warm welcome that I received from this organization motivated me to apply to their summer internship, so wish me luck!

Overall, my Friday, as any other day in the week, was just plain awesome. D.C is a place that I see myself enjoying living in.

Crouch ’17 Digs Deep into Rhetoric Research

Cole Crouch ‘17 -  On Wednesday, the class made three exciting and unique visits in D.C. The first was to the Pew Research Center, the second to ICANN and the third to NPR.  Throughout the day, the class engaged in meaningful discussion with professionals that helped develop a deeper understanding about the vast and vital voices shaping America. In reflection, one cannot truly comprehend the rhetorical agents present in America without visiting D.C. and seeing firsthand the immense inter-connectivity between government, organizations, and businesses.

Cole Crouch '17

Cole Crouch ’17

At the Pew Research Center, the class was presented research and polls about how to understand and communicate demographic studies concerning religion in America. Dr. Gregory Smith, Director of U.S. Religion Surveys, Religion and Public Life Project, led the discussion about the prominent role religion and religious studies serve in shaping American politics. From 30,000 feet, Dr. Smith discussed that religion is extremely powerful, prominent, and necessary to analyze and monitor in America. In his findings, he concluded that religion, behind race, is the 2nd leading factor in projecting voting patterns in America. Furthermore, it was fascinating and bit humorous for the class to learn from Dr. Smith’s studies that 1 in 5 Americans have no religious affiliation; hence, the research study was entitled the “Nones” on the Rise. These studies prompted perhaps the most class discussion and questioning as they sought to think critically about how and why religion is such a principal voice and rhetorical agent in America.

From the Pew Research Center, the class continued their conversations on over to ICANN – The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers – where Patrick Jones ‘96, Senior Director, and Global Stakeholder Engagement led discussion.  Jones informed the class about the unique role the Internet and ICANN has in connecting not just Americans domestically, but people globally. ICANN primarily functions to manage Internet resources for the public benefit by coordinating the Internet’s unique domain name system, but it also has grown an international mission. Since it’s founding, ICANN has been working to connect multi stakeholders via unique Internet strategies that cut through barriers in language, culture and government. Ultimately, the cornerstone mission is to create a globalized Internet community. As an appropriate bonus, the class was able to celebrate along with ICANN the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web! Just as well, Jones showed us a rare, neighboring skyline view of the White House.

Suess ’17 Sees Inside D.C. Political Rhetoric

Jimmy Suess ’17 – On Tuesday, we had the chance to meet with Joseph Pounder of America Rising in the morning, and the FBI in the afternoon. So far on this trip, we have been able to experience Washington, D.C. with more special opportunities than the common tourist. Our opportunities continued into Tuesday.

Pounder, President of America Rising, spoke with us about his job as the leader of this political action committee (PAC). He gave us a new perspective of the political process, a much more realistic perspective. Their job at America Rising is to frame how the people view the candidates; nothing is off limits. Both Democrats and Republicans participate in every election. We see PAC’s work when we see political scandals or flip floppy candidates. An example of this could be Romney’s views on healthcare. It was brought up that Romney had instilled a healthcare bill quite like the Affordable Healthcare Act, so he was framed as a flip flopper candidate by a democratic PAC. PACs do a lot of the unseen work that goes into politics. They are the researchers behind all candidates or nominees, and try to influence politics in favor of their party. I was unaware that this job existed, and I am now very interested in learning more about the process. From a rhetorical perspective, PACs like America Rising, are influencing the audience of their choosing in order to persuade public opinion of their candidate. Since rhetoric is defined as the art of persuasion, applying to work for a PAC would be right down a rhetoric major’s alley. Pounder shared with us some of his experiences working on the Bush and Romney’s campaigns and even opened the door for future internships.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation was an especially intriguing site because not everyone gets to see the things we saw. The Strategic Information and Operations Center (SIOC) looked like the scene of 24. It was where everything big happens. For example, the Boston bombing investigation and pursuit took place in the center. The FBI is the backbone for all national crisis events, and serve as an integral part to the United States’ freedom and safety. Countless times I heard from the FBI agents and officers that their job is to protect the Constitution. This experience of going inside the FBI gives me a new confidence in our internal forces that justice will be served, and this nation will keep thriving.

Miller ’16 Enjoying D.C. Exploration

Dylan Miller ’16 – Well it has been another long and fun-filled day in our nation’s capitol. After a long day of traveling, we got to have a leisurely morning with a departure time of 10:30am. From our hotel, the group made its way to the nearest Metro station where we made a quick stop at Krispy Kreme for our free Happy Daylight Savings Time doughnut before piling into the metro train. A few train switches later (oh the joys of public transportation!), we were at the American History Museum. We had about an hour and a half to explore the Americana-filled museum. Not nearly enough time, but we had a busy schedule, and it was off to the Museum of the American Indian. As we approached the museum, Dr. Drury pointed out the stark contrasts between the American History Museum and the Museum of the American Indian. The stone walls and undulating architectural style of the Museum of the American Indian compared to the clean-cut industrial style of the American History Museum showed illuminated how the creators wanted these two museums to be interpreted. With a rhetoric professor by your side, you’re never free from (rhetorical) criticism and interpretation.

ChiliAfter making our way through the two museums, the group split up to further explore the city on our own. My classmate, Josh Bleisch, and I made our way to the National Gallery of Art to check out some Van Gough and Monet paintings like any good liberal arts student would do (I love those water lilies). Next was some much needed R&R in the hotel room after hours of walking around the city and museums.

With empty stomachs, Josh and I headed out on the town for some authentic D.C. cuisine. Naturally, we ended up at the famous Ben’s Chili Bowl, a local favorite of Bill Cosby, Jesse Jackson, and a fairly well known D.C. local by the name of Barack Obama. The long, looping line the length of the restaurant was a correct indicator of the amazing chilidogs and fries. From Ben’s Chili Bowl, Josh and I made one final stop to a large eggshell colored house (or maybe it was white, I’m not good with colors). After getting some cheesy touristy pictures and getting yelled at by the Secret Service (apparently we were supposed to stay on the sidewalk?), we headed back to the hotel.

Now it’s time to be domestic and iron my suit for tomorrow’s business-professional excursions!

FBI Visit a D.C. Highlight for Tapper ’16

Josh Tapper ’16 – Have you ever met with a PAC before? Have you ever been able to tour the FBI?  If you answered no to either one of those previous questions, I am sorry, and if you ever get the chance you should do so.  Luckily, this small group of Wabash men was able to do both of those things in the same day.  Washington D.C. is very fast paced and it seems that everyone is constantly doing something and that rings true so far for us.

Prof. Sara Drury's class at the FBI Headquarters in D.C.,

Prof. Sara Drury’s class at the FBI Headquarters in D.C.,

We started our Tuesday off by meeting with Joseph Pounder, President of the America Rising PAC.  While in our meeting we were able to learn how tools such as thinking critically are put into use in the real world, mainly politics in this case.  In this meeting we learned what the benefits of close research and application of minor details can do to either make or break a certain candidate’s run for office.  It is interesting when meeting with groups such as America Rising to note that we may not be electing a President this year, but regardless the effort to secure a spot for your candidate to be on top never ends.  It was also nice to get a helpful reminder to be careful about what you post on social media, because that stuff is never fully gone whether you think it is or not.  As you can now see this meeting with America Rising was helpful in multiple areas, and definitely was able to get a good amount of us to ponder our future.

Everybody knows what the F.B.I. is and hopefully if you ever encounter the Federal Bureau of Investigation, you’re not the one being investigated.  Thankfully, we were not in contact with the F.B.I. for negative reasons, but rather we got one of a few rare tours that are given out these days.  We started out at noon by getting to see a brief firearms demonstration that was definitely able to keep us all on the edge of our seats.  The F.B.I. must really know how to grab the attention of young men between the ages of 18-20 if they start out with something like that.  We met with a few different people from the Bureau and learned some pretty interesting things.  One of the coolest things that I personally learned is that the F.B.I. is not looking for people right out of college.  The F.B.I. prefers to have a well – rounded person like the education at Wabash promotes.  If anybody is reading this and you are under the age of 30 and think you may have some interest in the F.B.I., diversify your resume.  At the end of the day organizations such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation are so successful because they don’t just look for anybody to work for them, but they truly do look for people who are the best of the best.

All is going well here in the nation’s capital.  We have all been given opportunities to do many things that will help further our education in and out of the classroom.  My spring break is quite interesting so far, and I’m sure it will only get better.  If you ever get the chance you should make sure you visit D.C. too.

Bryant ’16 Learning More of the D.C. Rhetoric

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Patrick Bryant ’16 – The students of the Rhetoric Department’s Voices of America course send you greetings from our nation’s capital.  As you’ve read over some of my classmates’ posts, you can tell we’ve already had a great day and a half exploring the sites and examining the rhetorical strategies behind the nation’s most iconic monuments and museums.

Today was a great opportunity to make site visits, gain some insight into the lives of some of Washington D.C.’s professionals, and have a chance to ask both policy and “day in the life” questions.  The site visits included stops at the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, a visit at the U.S. Capitol Building through Senator Joe Donnelly’s office, and an evening talk hosted by D.C.’s very popular Newseum.  The conversations and the sights made for a very worthwhile day and it was an honor to meet with Senator Donnelly for a few minutes this afternoon.

I want to talk specifically about some of the rhetorical agents witnessed in our visit to the U.S. Capitol.  This was my second visit, and we were very fortunate to have the assistance of Andre Adeyemi ’12 and Senator Donnelly’s office, to enjoy a semi-private tour.  We watched the 14-minute introductory video in the Capitol Visitor’s Center.  The video highlighted the strength, prominence, and evolution of the nation’s legislative branch.  Approval ratings and congressional gridlock aside, the video is meant to put the Congress in a light where it’s a direct representation of the American public.  It talked about the evolution of ideas, through the legislative process, to become the laws of this land – no mention of special interests, the power angling, and the debt crisis.  The movie and the ensuing guided tour through old chambers of the legislature and Supreme Court made for a tremendous history lesson, and rhetorically the unity between new and old demonstrated the keen importance of tradition, but the message of the movie coupled that with an eye towards progress.  The movie highlighted the discussions of slavery as the nation grew in the first half of the 19th century, but the tone changed as civil rights legislation took center stage in the 20th century.

Meeting with the Senator and hearing what he had to say gave us some perspective into the rhetoric that encompasses his role.  He referred to his office as “our” office, the office of the people of Indiana.  In a geographical area where symbolism is king, Senator Donnelly’s comment certainly garnered my respect.

I want to extend my thanks to the leadership of our classroom professor and leader of this trip, Professor Sara Drury, and the assistance of Professor Shamira Gelbman of the Political Science Department.  This has been an incredible experience and without the generosity of the friends of the College, these immersion experiences would not be possible.  I certainly hope that you take time to read the posts from my classmates as they share with you more stories from the week’s experiences.