Stand UP DC#1: Setting the Stage

Shalom Friends and Family,

Our first full day was jam-packed with lots of walking, sweets and meaningful discussion! Following breakfast at Uncommon Cafe, we did a slow walk toward Union Station. We happened to walk by the White House on our journey, so we stopped for a few minutes to take some pictures and observe some protestors -and some teens even took the opportunity to break out into a song from Hamilton as we passed the Department of Treasury. We then continued on our walk and made a quick stop in Chinatown for some Bubble Tea and a discussion on what we had observed thus far on our walk. Observations included the difference between some of the streets in terms of architecture – ex. Older, more traditional-looking buildings by the White House and then more modern, business-like looking buildings in Chinatown. The teens were also very quick to notice the people experiencing homelessness, we saw who was sleeping on the street throughout Chinatown. Since our walk took a little less longer than expected, we made a thirty minute stop in the Postal Museum where they were able to learn about the U.S. Postal Service, sat in some model carriages and trucks and learn about the history of stamps.
We then went to eat lunch at Pret a Manger and stopped for some macarons at Laduree. The teens had their first experience on the metro and quickly learned to stay on the right side of the escalator and that everyone must tap their metro cards in and out. 
We heard from two speakers at the National Coalition for the Homeless Speakers Bureau, Michelle and Alex. Both of their stories were pretty impactful, especially Michelle’s. The teens asked some great questions and were able to have some myths about homelessness busted (such as, thinking all people experiencing homelessness are unemployed). After hearing from the speakers, we went and sat in the circle at Dupont Circle and reflected on what we had heard and takeaways the teens had.
Following our discussion, we took the metro back to Chinatown and spent a little over an hour at the Portrait Gallery where the teens were able to see the presidential portraits and Michelle Obama’s (which appeared to be the top of their priority list). Then per the teens request, we took a group trip to Bed Bath and Beyond before allowing them to have a Pizur dinner in Chinatown. Once we got back to the dorms we played an icebreaker game with Dum Dum lollipops, played a “Snowball Fight” where teens’ unanswered questions and thoughts were answered and discussed, had teen sign up for Shabbat planning committees and all around had a great time! First day was definitely a success. 

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