Thursday, August 16, 2007

Sayonara (but not really)

Tears and laughter at the airport as we bade the group "Sayonara"!
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The AGU2007 team, back at the Quality Inn after accompanying the group to the airport. It's hard to believe it is over!

But not over completely, because I am looking forward to meeting you in cyberspace! Here's how to stay connected with your AGU in America friends, teachers, mentors, and predecessors:

1. Join our Yahoo Group. If you don't yet have an account with Yahoo, you will have to create one (sorry). Don't forget to write down your username and password! You can choose whether to receive posts as emails (recommended) or to check the website from time to time. Once you join the group (click on "Join This Group" and wait to be approved as a member), you can post messages or respond to others' messages. Check the Calendar for upcoming birthdays and AGU chats at Tapped In. You can upload photos and documents, too! (Remember that my tips on using Blogger are already in the Files section of the YG.)

2. Come to my office at Tapped In to chat with me and other AGU in America friends. When I set a date for a chat, I will post a message to the YG, post it to the YG calendar, send a reminder one day in advance to the YG, and post a note in NinaTL_ofc. The only excuse for not being there is if you have to go to work! Remember: to get to my office, click on the Online tab, select my name or anyone who is in NinaTL_ofc, and click on the open door at the bottom. If you have any problems, there is usually a helpdesk volunteer in Reception who can help you. Don't forget to detach the chat screen and enlarge the type! Our first chat is scheduled for (in Japan) 11 a.m. September 29. (That's 10 pm September 28 in the Washington area.)

3. Keep posting to your blog! After you get home and have had a chance to rest up, I hope that you will post some reflections about your experience in the United States--what you have learned (about the country, the people, and perhaps about yourself...), and what you think about it all. After that, you can use your blog as a kind of online diary to share your experiences at home in Japan. It's a great way to practice writing and thinking in English! Reading the blogs of others is good for improving your reading, too. You can subscribe to your favorite blogs at Bloglines or another aggregator. Don't forget to leave a comment! Most bloggers enjoy getting feedback for their posts.

This is my last post. Thanks to all of you for reading and commenting on this blog. It will always remind me of the wonderful days we spent with AGU in America 2007!

Thank you!

Before I end this blog, I want to thank the many people who helped me to plan, coordinate and implement AGU in America this year:

*Marsha Sprague and Linda Sahin, MEI Director and Associate Director, for their support
*Shirley Thompson, a wonderful teacher and a dear friend, for her patience and creativity
*Ji Won Moon, Sophia Burton, and Laura Jacob, our three fabulous, energetic and uncomplaining mentors, for everything!
*Kim Kwok, MEI Administrative Coordinator, for helping me in more ways than I can count
*Esteban Garcia, without whom my final slideshow would not have been created, for assisting us in the Multimedia Center
*Dr. Marie Hallion, our guest speaker on the history of U.S. Diplomacy, for doing so much more than her wonderful presentation
*Jim Shirlen and Rex Potts of The Washington Post, for showing us around the printing plant
*Khalim Piankhi and Madeline LaCore of Channel 9, for showing us around the studio, and J.C. Hayward, for graciously allowing us to take about 30 photographs with her!
*Hiroko Miyakawa, Mariko Russell, Ichiro Toda, and Tsuchiya Takahashi of the Inter-American Development Bank, for making our visit there so memorable
*Amy Wasserstrom and Ken Shimada of the Gordon W. Prange Collection at McKeldin Library, for telling us all about the collection--twice
*Jane Welsh and the wonderful tour guide of the College Park Aviation Museum, for making that activity so special
*Tony Chan, for assisting us with the technology in BPS0283
*Chiles and Tony, our bus drivers, for their patience and good driving
*Shania Lin and Sang Shin, our unofficial mentors, for enriching this experience for the participants
*Christoforos Liakos and Nedret Oztan, for making the cookout such a success
*Dennis Oliver, Berta Leiva, and Hiromi Sato, for reading and commenting on the blogs
*Sasha Sirk, Teresa Almeida d'Eca, Dennis Oliver, Hiromi Sato, and Yuiko Hayakawa for participating in the chats at Tapped In
*Christoforos and Vicki Liakos, for keeping the home fires burning for the past 2 weeks
*the Evanoff family, for their enthusiasm and support
*and finally, the participants, whose pleasure and appreciation made it all worthwhile!

If I have forgotten anybody, I apologize! Thank you all for your help and support. I couldn't have done it without you!

Leaving College Park

We met in the lobby of the Quality Inn for the last time, to check out. Everyone boarded the big black Terrapin bus, and we set out for Dulles International Airport. The drive took almost 1 1/2 hours because we were going during the morning rush hour!
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Dinner at Yi Jo

We all met at the Quality Inn at 7:30 and drove to a Korean restaurant on Route One, Yi Jo. Shania and Sang, our "unofficial mentors" were there as well. Our group took up 4 tables! We enjoyed wonderful Korean dishes and had a really good time. After dropping off the kids at the QI, I drove home, arriving at 11:00, and went straight to bed! But I heard that some of them stayed up until the wee hours.
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The Last Day

Today was the last full day of the program. The students had classes as usual in the morning (although four of them overslept and missed my class!) and in the afternoon, we had our farewell reception in the Nanticoke Room of Stamp Union. Marsha, Shirley, the three mentors, Richard, and I all said "a few words", Ji Won and I showed our slideshows of the pictures we had taken suring these two weeks, we presented the students with certificates of participation, and we enjoyed snacks and cold drinks and took (as usual!) lots of pictures. Everyone started getting weepy at the thought that the program was ending.... (more to come tomorrow)

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Class met on eight days in the Multimedia Center of the Maryland English Institute (MEI). Students created blogs at In their posts, they wrote about what they saw, what they did, and what they thought about it all. They learned how to upload pictures to their blogs and how to create photo albums in Bubbleshare. They learned how to leave comments on others' blogs and how to add hot links to their posts and to their blog's sidebar. They learned how to edit their posts to correct their mistakes. In so doing, they practiced reading and writing in English.

I hope when they are back in Japan, they will keep posting to these blogs so that we will know how they are doing!

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Adams Morgan

Our last field trip was in the mostly Latino (Spanish-speaking) neighborhood of Adams Morgan, in Washington, D.C. We took the metro to Columbia Heights and walked down 16th Street and Columbia Road to 18th Street. We saw a few of the neighborhood's famous murals (wall art), heard many people speaking Spanish, and saw lots of Latino and African stores and businesses. Some of us bought flavored ices from a street vendor, and others had coffee at Tryst, a coffee shop next to the famous Madam's Organ mural (Adams Morgan/Madam's Organ--get it?). We had an hour to explore the neighborhood, and then we met back at Tryst and walked down 18th Street to U Street and back to 14th, where we found the U Street-African American Civil War Memorial metro station. This part of DC was devastated by riots following the assassination of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968, and has been redeveloped fairly recently.

All of the students looked exhausted, so I suggested they they might prefer to return to College Park rather than staying in DC for dinner; but they all refused my offer and went off with the mentors to see the White House while Richard and I made our way back to College Park, after stopping off to see the Civil War Memorial, which was at the other entrance to the metro station! I am sorry the group missed it, and will include my photos of it in the slideshow.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Lake Artemesia

College Park, Maryland is a town of 25,000 people which is home to a university of 35,000 people! Today, our afternoon activity was discovering College Park, and the students had three choices: a hike around Lake Artemesia, a visit to the College Park Aviation Museum, or a visit to the University of Maryland University College to view some of the artwork there. Since I went on the hike, I can only write about that, but I hope Ji Won and Laura will post about their trips.

I met the students at the Union, and we met Sophia at the Main Gate. We weren't sure about the correct path, as neither of us had actually done the hike before, and we didn't have a good map; but after starting out in the wrong direction we doubled back and soon we were on the Paint Branch Trail heading east, and before too long, we arrived at the lake, which was surrounded by greenery and full of water lilies and bullrushes. It was really a lovely scene. It was quite hot, but as we walked around to the other side of the lake, we came upon a large gazebo on stilts in the water. We all climbed the steps and entered the gazebo, and in there there was a wonderful cool breeze blowing. It felt just like being in a boat--except that we weren't moving. The kids and Sophia played a Japanese counting/clapping game, and after a while one of the girls brought out jump ropes, and they played Double Dutch and other jumping feats. They were really good! I was surprised because I hadn't realized that Double Dutch had traveled abroad--I thought mainly American girls did it. I am always learning new things from this program.

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Aviation Museum!!!

When the students split up for the afternoon optional activities, nine of us went to the Aviation Museum, the oldest operating Airport in the entire world! Our beloved unofficial mentor Shania came with us on the trip! Now, because the bus did not come on time, we had to take a long hike down to the museum. However, since we leisurely enjoyed the campus tour--visiting the A/C provided classrooms inside many buildings--on our way to the museum, we did not suffer from the heat as much. When we arrived at the museum, Mr. Allyn Hill, our kind tour guide, was waiting for us to give us a wonderful tour around the museum, explaining to us the history, the mechanics, and the science behind the airplanes and flying!

English Class

I've had fun catching up on everyone's blogs. But, I've noticed that no one talks about what we do in class. I hope it's not so boring that you forget as soon as you leave!!

To help everyone remember, I'll summarize what we've done in class so you can have this memory for your blog as well.

    • The first day we all decorated our nametags and we got to know each other a little.

    • Most days we do some Jazz Chants. They wake everyone up if they're sleepy, and give you a chance to practice typical, everyday English expressions. Here are some Jazz Chants we've done: Hi, How are you?, Hot and Humid (hot 'n humid), Is the Post Office Open Tomorrow, Clear Blue Sky, and Personal Questions.

    • Each day you tell me about the things you've been doing outside of class, your trips and adventures in Washington, Maryland and Virginia.

    • And each day we preview all of the things that you're going to do next and the places you will see that day. In the process we've talked a lot about American history and politics and American culture and values. We've talked about ethnic diversity and immigration and lots of other things. You've learned a lot of new vocabulary along the way.

    • You've learned about the Cultural Iceberg, a metaphor to help us understand that much of what makes up a culture is "underneath the surface" and cannot be seen.

    • Luckily, you have the mentors who are willing to answer lots of questions about their families, their eating habits, manners, male/female relationships, and some of their ideas and attitudes about money. This week each group will give a presentation about what they've learned about American culture.

    • We listened to a song by the Blackfoot Indian singer, Jack Gladstone, called Circle of Life. (The students love karaoke, so I was sure they would sing loudly! However, they were a bit quiet, perhaps because they're in the classroom? Maybe we'll try again.)
    • We read a poem by the famous African American poet, Langston Hughes, called Dreams. The bookstore and restaurant Busboys and Poets is named for Langston Hughes who worked as a busboy.
    • We're working on a Reader's Theater presentation of an Algonquin folktale called The Hidden One which is about an invisible warrior who promises to marry the woman who can see him. It's an American Indian version of the famous Cinderella story. Only someone with a good heart can see him. Instead of Cinderella, the girl is called Little Scarface. And instead of Prince Charming, there is an invisible warrior whose shoulder strap is a rainbow and whose bowstring is the milky way. Instead of the Fairy Godmother, the warriors older sister, the Patient One, helps Little Scarface get rid of her scars by washing her face with magic liquid. You learned some strange new words for this story! (wigwam, birch bark, moccasin)

    I enjoyed working with all of you. I hope the class has been fun and helpful to everybody! I'll miss all of you when you go back to Japan.

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Sunday, August 12, 2007


Today was our day to visit some of Washington D.C.'s famous museums. In the morning, the students chose between the National Museum of the American Indian and the National Gallery of Art. Six students came with me to the NGA, and the rest went with the mentors to the NMAI. At the National Gallery, I took the students around to see the 12 most significant works of art, including Leonardo da Vinci's Ginevra de Benci, one of Monet's Rouen cathedral paintings, and a self-portrait by Rembrandt; then we had lunch, and after that everyone went to see what they chose until 2:00. (I went to the East Wing to see a lovely exhibit of small French paintings.)

At 2:00 we met the rest of the group and everybody went to the Museum of Natural History, where we spent two hours looking at the many fascinating exhibits: gems and minerals, mammals, nature photography, geology, etc. At 4:45, I took 9 of the students back to the Quality Inn, and the rest went with the mentors to visit the memorials they had missed last Sunday when they went to the Performing Arts Center to hear Brahms. They must have been exhausted (I know I was)!

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Saturday, August 11, 2007


After such a busy day yesterday, today's excursion to Annapolis, the capital of Maryland, was a relaxing change. After a brief (and very noisy) tour of the State House (the oldest state capitol in continuous legislative use), everyone had a couple of hours to explore and have something to eat. Then we boarded the Annapolitan II for a cruise out into the Chesapeake Bay as far as the Bay Bridge. After going under the bridge (which is actually two bridges), we returned to Annapolis harbor. The weather was spectacular today: in the 80s with low humidity. I am glad the students have experienced something other than hot and sticky while they are here!

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Friday, August 10, 2007

The Cookout

The students wanted to see an American home, so we hosted a cookout at our house this evening. Ji Won and Sophia drove the kids out to Gaithersburg in two 11-passenger vans; Shirley and her husband Clyde brought the Evanoffs; Marie Hallion joined us on the eve of her trip to New England; and our friends Helen and Gary Clark and their daughter Colleen, and Nedret Oztan, visiting from Turkey, came also. We served raw veggies, chips and salsa, hamburgers, potato salad, cole slaw, fruit salad and cookies--relatively typical cookout fare. The weather was pretty good--a little bit cooler than the past few days, and a little drier, and it didn't rain, although thunderstorms were forecast. The kids toured the house, played cards and other games, played with Shirley and Clyde's little grandson DJ, 2, ate, and sang. Nine o'clock came all too soon, and they left for the Redrock Cafe for karaoke. I hope they won't be too tired to enjoy Annapolis tomorrow!
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As already mentioned, on Wednesday we spent the afternoon at WUSA news where some of us got to watch a live taping of the show! Here is a picture of Nina and the mentors with J. C. Hayward, one of the news anchors.

On Thursday we went to the IADB and though I didn't understand much of the lectures (except a couple words like "projecto" and "investmento") I think the students got a lot out it!

After the IADB, most of us went to the National Portrait Gallery. We spent an hour in the museum and I think some of the students spent most of that time in the gift shop! A lot of the boys bought pencil/pen cases.

After the museum, we head back to College Park and to Potbelly's for dinner. The people working at Potbelly's were very accommodating and eventually everyone had a sandwich. I've noticed that many of the students don't like mustard! Maybe mustard in Japan isn't very good. After dinner we hung around at Potbelly's playing games. The picture above shows most of the girls and me playing a game I play at the Outdoor Rec Center with groups.

The InterAmerican Development Bank

On Thursday, after Shirley's class we traveled by metro downtown to the InterAmerican Development Bank, where Ms. Hiroko Miyakawa, a Public Information Officer at the Bank, had organized a full schedule for us: lunch at the IDB cafeteria (I had pupusas con queso, a Salvadoran dish I have long wanted to try--delicious, with rice, beans, and salad); a briefing which included presentations by Hiroko (in English) and two of the IDB's specialists, Mariko Russell and Ichiro Toda (in Japanese)--with a welcoming speech by the Executive Director for Japan, Mr. Tsuyoshi Takahashi; and a tour to the opulent Board Room and the IDB Cultural Center, where we saw an interesting exhibit by nine artists from Costa Rica. Afterwards, most of the group opted to stay downtown and visit a museum, and Yuka and I went back to College Park. It was a great afternoon! I missed having class with my bloggers, though.
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Wednesday, August 8, 2007

After the very meaningful and exciting visit to Channel 9, the group decided to go straight to the Stamp Union to play! We bowled, played billiards, and played video games for almost three hours until the Terp Zone finally closed. We then drove over to Hanami, a Sushi restaurant on Rte. 1. Everyone had delicious Japanese American "fusion" sushi, after which they decided to go for some ice cream next door!

After returning to Channel 9, we went to Stamp Student Union for some fun and relaxation at TerpZone! Half of us spent our time bowling, and the the other half learned how to play billiards. I was with the group bowling - everyone was really good and even wound up playing 5 games! Even luckier, today happened to be Happy Day (instead of Happy Hour!) so bowling and pool was half of the regular price!

We spent much more time at TerpZone than we had expected, so we were there from about 5-8pm! After that, we all went to Hanami, a Japanese restaurant in College Park, because the students are beginning to get homesick for rice and other daily Japanese food. After that, we went to the Jungle Grill for some ice cream to top off the end to a long, hot day!

WUSA Channel 9

After an hour in the lab, we set out for WUSA Channel 9. We took the shuttle bus to the metro station and then the metro to Tenleytown. Then we had to walk about 6 blocks in the stifling heat and humidity (we are in the midst of a severe heat wave) to Broadcast House. Khalim Piankhi and Madeline LaCore of the Community Relations office met us. They divided us into two groups for the tour. We saw the master control room and the "tape room" (which has fewer and fewer tapes these days). Then we were seated in the studio as J.C. Hayward read the noon news. This was really neat! We could watch as J.C. went on and off the air. She was very professional. When the broadcast was finished, she and the weather forecaster, Kim Martucci, recorded webcasts for the Channel 9 website. After that, we took lots of pictures with J.C. Hayward. In addition to a group picture (below), she posed for a photo with every single student! She was really gracious and kind, and she spoke to the students and asked them questions in the nicest way. I think everybody had a really great time at Channel 9. I know I did!


J. C. Hayward and AGU in America
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After we left Broadcast House, we stopped for lunch at Ruby Tuesday. Everybody had burgers and/or salad. It was fun, but it made us late for Shirley's class. Then the metro train we were riding stopped at Dupont Circle Station. Here's the news report from Channel 9's website:
WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) - Three stations on Metro's Red Line were closed because of a suspicious package at the Dupont Circle station....

The transit agency says the Dupont Circle station closed at 2:57 p.m. due to a suspicious package found on a train heading to Glenmont.

A rider saw the package and alerted officials via the intercom system on the train.

Metro Transit Police also closed down the Woodley Park and Cleveland Park stations for "logistical reasons," says Metro.

Special equipment was brought into the Dupont station so officials could detonate the suspicious package. Only papers and cardboard were found in the box....

After they closed the station, we walked to the Farragut North station, which was fortunately not too far away! But by the time we got back to UM, it was too late for Shirley's class, so I had to cancel it. :-( However, most of the students went on to the Student Union, to Terp Zone, I think. They are indefatigable!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Since I haven't posted in a few days, I have a lot of pictures from different activities. I am posting my favorites of the bunch. Saturday and Sunday were very long but fun days. Saturday we went to Old Town Alexandria and Georgetown, and Sunday was spent in DC looking at monuments. On Monday we went down to Pentagon City Mall to do some shopping and eat dinner, and tonight we did a Washington Post tour and a trip to the Shoppers supermarket. At Shoppers, the students picked out lots of candy, cookies, crackers and chocolate to take home to friends. Some of the boys bought toothbrushes because apparently they are bigger here! For dinner we went to Hard Times Cafe, which is known for their chicken wings. In order to sample them all, we chose to get 120 wings (30 of each 4 types). Celery came with the wings so at least we ate something green! :) At dinner I gave Yoshinori a kiss on the cheek. Everyone went crazy about that, and I ended up with a line of people wanting me to kiss them on the cheek and get a picture of it. I didn't expect it to be such a big deal, but I learned today that in Japan it is not common to kiss on the cheek as a greeting as it is in other countries that I am used to.


Today we had a field trip to the Washington Post printing plant in College Park. We took the bus from campus to the Post.

They have a turtle sculpture! Fifty of these turtles were decorated in 2006 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the University of Maryland charter. They were sold at auction in October 2006, and this is where one of them ended up!

Jim Shirlen, a retired printer who worked at the Washington Post for more than 30 years, showed us a video about the newspaper and then showed us around the plant. The newsprint manager, Rex Potts, also talked to the group and came with us on the tour. We saw four gigantic printing presses (made by Mitsubishi!), each 5 stories high and 160 feet long (more than half the length of a football field). Each press weighs over 750 tons and can print, cut, and fold 18 complete newspapers per second. Huge rolls of newsprint (paper for newspapers) are brought by train from Canada (we saw the railroad cars and tracks right inside the plant!) Robots are programmed to load and unload the rolls of newsprint. When the presses are running, it must be an amazing sight. They don't give any tours when the presses are running, though, because they make too much noise; you wouldn't be able to hear what the guide is saying.

After lunch, we had two hours in the lab. First we worked on the blogs and then we had our first chat at Tapped In. It was fun!
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Monday, August 6, 2007

Lunch at the Dairy

We had lunch at the Dairy today. The Dairy is located in the Turner Lab building on Route 1, which also houses the UM Visitor's Center (where the turtle statue is). They have burgers, hot dogs, pizza, salads, sandwiches and wraps, sushi rolls and the best ice cream in Maryland!




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U.S. Diplomatic History lecture

Dr. Marie Hallion, Course Chair of the Department of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland University College, was our guest lecturer today. Dr. Hallion's areas of specialization include homeland security, terrorism, organization theory and globalization. In addition to her work for UMUC, Dr. Hallion has worked for the U. S. government in various capacities for the White House and the Department of Energy. She spoke to us about the history of United States diplomacy, from the Colonial period until the present. She created a beautiful powerpoint presentation with many pictures to help the students understand the topic, and she gave each student a packet with a copy of the powerpoint to take home. In addition, she included some other information and two gifts for each participant: a souvenir clothing patch and a Mount Vernon First Day Issue of a stamped postcard! Philatelists (people who collect stamps) collect first day issues, and in a few years, this one could be worth quite a lot of money--so keep it safe!

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Sunday, August 5, 2007

Memorials and the Monument

I met the group in DC today, having left my car at the Quality Inn yesterday. We walked around the Tidal Basin and visited the Jefferson and FDR memorials. Then I went ahead to the Washington Monument because we were supposed to be there at 3:45. The group got there about 3:55 and everyone rode the elevator up to the top. Unfortunately, it was very hazy, but we could still see quite far.

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On our way back to College Park, I managed to get my group on the wrong metro, but we eventually made it back to CP and had a quick meal at Plato's Diner. Then there was a thunderstorm! I drove eight students in 2 groups to CSPAC for a read-through of Brahms' German requiem. We found Richard Evanoff and his family there as well. They all left after the "rehearsal" part ended, but I stayed until 10 and sang with the group! It was awesome.
Today, we visited various memorials as well as the Washington Monument, enjoying the pleasant views and taking memorable pictures. After seeing the entire D.C. area from the top of the Monument, half of the group decided to go back to College Park for a concert. The other half stayed with the mentors and visited the Lincoln, World War II, and the Vietnam War Memorials.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Monuments Cruise

At 3:30 pm, we boarded the Miss Mallory for a 45-minute cruise to Georgetown, the oldest neighborhood in Washington, D.C. Dr. Hallion saw us off, waving from the dock as the boat pulled away. We were happy to find a big air-conditioned room on the boat, and some of the group stayed there, playing cards or just resting; but some of us preferred the view from the Miss Mallory's upper deck, where the sun was strong but there was a beautiful breeze!

When we got to Georgetown, our first stop was Urban Outfitters, a giant clothing store on M Street. I hate to shop, so I went home soon after that. I got home at 7 pm, exhausted, but I found out that the group stayed on in Georgetown, shopping and eating, for several hours, getting home at 11:30. Fortunately, Sunday morning is free time so we can all sleep in!

Here are my pictures from the cruise, plus a few from Georgetown:

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Today we traveled to Alexandria, an old city on the Potomac River south of Washington. It was hot and humid (the high was 97 degrees Fahrenheit). Dr. Marie Hallion joined us and we explored Old Town Alexandria. We completed part of a photo scavenger hunt (we tried to find all the items on a list to photograph), had a delicious lunch at the Fish Market on King Street, visited the Torpedo Factory Art Center and even saw an Irish Festival before boarding our boat for Georgetown.

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Friday, August 3, 2007

Today we took our first trip to D.C. We started at Union Station for dinner in the food court and some light shopping. The food court offered a lot of options, and some of the guys went for the familiar sushi. After dinner there was a LOT of picture taking and a monument tour. After over an hour of walking we ended up back at the metro. Many students were so exhausted by the end that they fell asleep on the train. I counted 15 of the 19 asleep at one point. Fortunately I took the opportunity to take pictures, I hope no one minds! :)