Washington, D.C. #2: An Action Packed Day!

Students visited the White House, met with the Republican National Committee Office, visited with Save The Children Action Network, Toured the Ukrainian Embassy, and met with the ASPEN Institute.  Abigail Ng ’25, Rich Zhou ’26, and Ryan Bai ’26 share the conversations they found most engaging throughout their busy day.

Abigail Ng ’25:

After a tour of the White House, we hustled over to the Republican National Committee, where we had the opportunity to meet the esteemed Ron Kauffman. Mr. Kauffman began by telling us about his background and his work with President George H.W. Bush. We were later able to ask Mr. Kauffman issues regarding his opinion on current political stances. A question I asked Mr. Kauffman regarded Taiwan being the leading semiconductor industry, where I asked his views on the United State’s role in this industry and if it is worthwhile to put so much resource and energy into this sector. It was a particularly engaging conversation because it was an unique experience to get to hear political views we were not exposed to as much.

After our memorable meeting with Mr. Kauffman, we headed to the Save the Children Action Network (SCAN), where we met with Student Engagement Manager Brody Armstrong. He talked about the importance of advocacy, the humanitarian aspect of SCAN, and their ways to push the government to pass laws in favor of children’s rights. It was an eye-opener experience, especially since Rich and I are on the SCAN board at Deerfield. We wrote postcards to House Representative McGovern asking him to renew the Farm Bill, and left with a fresher perspective concerning humanitarian rights.

Rich Zhou ’26:

Out of all the conversations today, I found the Circle by the ASPEN Institute particularly engaging. As a group, we were able to become vulnerable to each other, share our true thoughts, and get to know each other better. Via the “talking stone” that symbolized the authority to speak and that could only be passed from hand to hand, none of us interrupted each other. Hence, the most loquacious people (me, for instance) got the same amount of speaking time as the quietest people.

During dinner with Mr. Ryan Tauriaianen and Ms. Frances Kraft, we talked extensively about education and communication. I sat with Mr. Tauriaianen during the dinner, so I asked Mr. Tauriaianen many questions, including what he thinks of the party “grooming” rhetoric and how it projects onto the curriculum that students have today. We had a meaningful discussion with questions from myself and other people.

Ryan Bai ’26:

We started the first day of the trip with a self guided tour of the Whitehouse. The East wing of the Whitehouse was open to tourists. Though we felt the Whitehouse was “tiny” when compared to our imagination, we all loved its characteristics. Every room has its own style, function, and history. It’s mind blowing to think about the historical decisions that have been made in this exact house that has determined today’s United States since John Adams administration since 1800. In the middle of the tour, senator Tammy Duckworthy just casually passed us. It’s so fascinating to experience democracy’s ubiquitous presence in action and dialogue.

In the afternoon, we visited the Embassy of Ukraine. We talked with Katia who works in the embassy and the ambassador ​​​​Oksana Markarova. Discussion related to democracy in this particular circumstance was inspiring: trust and friendship is playing an important part in the balance of international relationship and democracy. The story of the Embassy building itself is amusing as well. The building was the exact place where the founding fathers of the US determined the location of the capitol. This discussion of democracy related to Ukraine continued at the United Ukrainian Ballet we watched as the last activity of the day. The connection between classic elegant ballet dance and their advocacy for Ukraine expresses exceptional power and energy. We met people who hold different beliefs and had different stories, but they all came together here to discussion democracy and justice.