“The goal of the CIA is to learn other nations’ secrets,” noted General Michael Hayden, and he should know. Hayden was the Director of both the CIA (2006-2009) and the National Security Agency (1999-2005) and, most recently, a “guest lecturer” to a group SHSU students who traveled to Houston, Texas to learn more about intelligence operations. The lecture, hosted by the World Affairs Council, covered wiretapping, prioritizing threats, presidential performance, and balancing work and family.The most pressing question from students focused on wiretapping, a topic that General Hayden seemed to anticipate. Hayden ensured students that the government did not record their calls, but acknowledged that the government did document the calls, taking note of who called whom and how long each call lasted—logging, as General Hayden referred to it, some 3 billion “phone events” per day.
This massive data collection comes in handy when other information falls into place. Hayden provided the example of the government capturing “Ali Bin Badguy” and confiscating “Mr. Badguy’s” phone which, in turn, allows them to locate his calls off the “phone-event” database and identify other potential terrorist connections. Hayden emphasized, however, that the government did not record calls made by citizens, at least not without a warrant.
SHSU Senior Coby Steele veered away from the popular wire-tapping issue and asked about operational management. “How,” he wanted to know, “do the multiple acronym agencies work together to prioritize threats?” General Hayden acknowledged that it was a problem, but not for the reasons people think. “The problem,” he noted, “is that we have so much data. It’s difficult to ‘connect the dots’ when there are so many dots that the page is black. But that’s because we are good at collecting data and working together.”
Hayden, who worked directly for Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama, noted that it wasn’t just the intelligence agencies working together. He praised President Bush and Obama for putting aside their differences and maintaining a consistent policy on intelligence: “There were fewer changes in 2009 when the Obama administration took over from Bush than there were in 2005, when Bush transitioned from his first term to his second.”
Brian King, a senior at SHSU, moved away from policy issues altogether and asked about the personal life of a CIA employee. “How,” asked King, “do you balance a family while running the CIA?” Hayden acknowledged the difficulties but said that he and his wife took “vacations together and traveled together for work,” unless he was heading into a war zone, in which case he traveled alone.
Although the SHSU students had almost an hour with General Hayden, not all of the SHSU students asked questions. Ashley Richardson, an Accounting major and first-semester freshman from Magnolia, Texas, learned through listening. “This is an amazing real-world educational experience with the former CIA Director,” noted Richardson. “You just don’t get these types of experiences in high school.”
King agreed, noting, “I’m not sure you get these opportunities at any other college. The CIA Director can listen to our conversations whenever he wants,” King added, tongue-in-cheek, “but how often can students listen to his conversations—let alone participate in them?”
The opportunity to interact directly with General Hayden was coordinated between the World Affairs Council and SHSU’s Center for Law, Engagement, And Politics (LEAP), which promotes learning across diverse disciplines. In the past month, students have met the former President of Mexico, Felipe Calderon; discussed career paths with a half dozen Texas legislators; and attended a presentation by former Senior Advisor to President Obama, David Axelrod; met former White House Chief of Staff Andy Card—while also attending law-school related activities and engaging in volunteer service across the community.
“Our goal,” noted Mike Yawn, Director of the LEAP Center, “is to provide opportunities that open new worlds for the students. SHSU faculty work hard to do that in the classroom, the University provides institutional support for similar outcomes outside of the classroom, and that combination will help us produce the next generation of public leaders in the state of Texas.”
Jacqueline Bolden–The Sam Houston State University L.E.A.P. program was invited by the World Affairs Council to attend a presentation and luncheon with iconic political figure and former President of Mexico Felipe Calderon on September 19, 2013. I was honored to have had the privilege of meeting President Calderon.
Felipe Calderon served as the 56th President of Mexico from 2006-2012. During his presidency, Calderon focused on economic reform and strengthening Mexico on a global scale. Former President Calderon was also the first president in Mexico to launch an attack on drug cartels.
Calderon spoke on a variety of topics at the luncheon, from free trade to universal healthcare. He explained how, during his term, he transformed Mexico into a secure nation with a goal of protecting families from violence and crime. Calderon believed the government needed to face criminals with full force and not avoid them. As a result, Calderon opened numerous law enforcement agencies.
Former resident Calderon was truly invested in his citizens’ quality of life. He created a universal healthcare program with lower rates and better coverage and built 1,600 new hospitals and clinics over the course of six years.
Education was another top priority during his presidency. Calderon built 140 universities from the ground up, graduating more than 90,000 people with engineering degrees. Mexico became the largest exporter of flat-screen televisions and manufacturer of Blackberries (70%), and surpassed Spain in exporting manufactured goods. Calderon’s efforts created more than 2 million jobs, and the net immigration to the United States nearly reached zero.
Calderon stated, “Mexico, day by day, is becoming a better nation.”
This event allowed me to see Mexico in a different light: how the government is working to create opportunities, create jobs, and improve the quality of life for its citizens. Former president Felipe Calderon is a key component to Mexico’s continued growth and resilience. He is a passionate leader who stays true to his beliefs, even in the face of adversity, and even if he has to stand alone. His work as president opened doors for millions of people in his country and around the world.
Toward the end of Calderon’s speech, he was asked what America can do to improve relations with Mexico. Calderon replied, “We are not enemies, we are neighbors, partners and allies.” This statement is a perfect example of Mexico’s push toward progress and bridging the gap with America.
The event was both insightful and unforgettable–by far, an event to remember and an educational experience that opened my eyes to political and economics topics that are issues on around the world.
Having concluded my first trip with the L.E.A.P program, I must say I’ve already started looking ahead to the next. On this trip I was exposed to a part of Dallas I’d never seen before and I learned an extensive amount of information pertinent to a future career in politics.
The trip revolved around the New Politics Forum, set up to introduce students to different careers in politics, to network with other students and those already in the career field. My favorite panel was the last, the “Alumni Panel” made up of recent SMU alumni who have gone onto successful careers in politics. I liked this panel in particular because they most described what it takes to be successful and gave specific examples of how they’ve gotten opportunities. My favorite speaker was the keynote, State Senator Royce West.
Though he is a Democrat and I may not agree with him on all matters of policy, I liked his speech best. As he I watched him speak impromptu, using different public speaking skills, I learned firsthand how a politician communicates.
While our trip was centered on the NPF while in Dallas we visited multiple sites in the city, my favorite stop of which was the George W. Bush Library. While Bush isn’t my favorite president and I didn’t agree with all his policies, I very much respect him both personally and as the president who shaped my youth. Walking thru the exhibit in the library and seeing images of 9/11 will forever give me chills.
In conclusion, as we wrap up the trip and I look back on the past three days, I can already look ahead to a future that has been positively influenced by this weekend.
Tessa Fendley: Day 3
The third and final day of the L.E.A.P program trip to Dallas seemed to pass by in a blur. We toured downtown Dallas on Segways, seeing a lot of different historical sites. Two of the more notable ones were the Dallas City Hall and Pioneer Plaza“cattle run.” We learned that City Hall was constructed so as to provide shade to the people working in the offices and to pedestrians below. Pioneer Plaza, built by Robert Summers, consists of copper sculptures of a larger-than-life herd of longhorn cattle. Commissioned by the City of Dallas, it is a stunning sight.
We then ate at what was my favorite place of the entire trip, Twisted Root. This wonderful eatery offered a variety of unusual burger options, including kangaroo, ostrich, and buffalo. I chose the vegetarian black bean burger, covered in onions, cheese, and pickles. To accompany my burger, I ordered fried pickles and French fries, which I enjoyed covered in their variety of homemade sauces.
Our last stop before finally heading back home was a small café. We each ordered a variety of cookies and coffee. I got a sandy pecan, a pecan delight, and a chocolate covered praline, all accompanied by a delicious coffee and an original Coke.
This experience in Dallas is something that I will never forget. The Sixth Floor Museum, the NPF Conference, the Segway tour, and the delicious food were all great ways to kick off my freshman year of college, along with making connections with people that I hope to see again.
Ariel Traub: Day 3
As our trip came to a close, I looked back on all of the amazing things we experienced and the great opportunities that we had. While we did much on this trip, my favorite experience was the Segway tour.
We departed the hotel early and headed to downtown Dallas to Nation Tours. We arrived at a large empty building with several Segways lined up along a wall, greeted by a very happy and upbeat tour guide, Doug, who showed us how to properly use the Segway (after handing out helmets).
We ventured outside where we each practiced on the Segway in order to ensure we could handle riding on our own. A few of us had a rocky start but, after all, it was our first time. Once we all got the hang of riding the Segway, the real fun began. We started the historical tour of Downtown Dallas at 9:30am. It was a full and fun experience, plus we got to see a giant eyeball, really!
I even got to eat at a food truck during our tour. There were no Segway accidents or civilian casualties – all the inexperienced Segway drivers made it through the two-hour-plus trip, although some of us did almost get hit while trying to take a picture in the middle of the street.
I had a great time in Dallas with the L.E.A.P. program and I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to have attended the NPF Careers in Politics Conference. It is great that Sam Houston State University helps students achieve academic success and provide such great opportunities to build their futures.
Jennifer Flores: Day 3
Unfortunately today was the last day of our trip to Dallas, but the fun wasn’t over… We woke up early for a morning Segway tour around the Dallas downtown. It was my first time on a Segway, but after I found my balance, it turned out to be one of the most fun forms of transportation on which I’ve been! The tour allowed us to explore many of Dallas’s historic sites and modern spaces. I especially enjoyed the Segway tour because it really gave me an up close and personal tour of city, allowing me to experience Dallas in whole new way.
We ate lunch at a local restaurant, Twisted Root Burger Co., which might just be my new favorite restaurant! They have everything a burger lover craves, and they make their own tasty root beer. I had the buffalo burger with fried green beans and would recommend that to everyone.
Our next stop was the George W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum.
The museum tells the chronological story of President George Bush’s life and his years of presidency. Artifacts, photographs, and videos details the president’s challenges of global war on terror, education reform, a financial crisis, and the efforts to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS abroad. I was very touched by the piece of steel from the World Trade Center that now hangs in display; it is a part of the museum that triggers emotions for everyone that remembers 9/11/01.
The New Politics Forum Careers in Politics was my first trip with the L.E.A.P program and it was truly more than I thought it would be. Our trip not only offered an historical learning adventure but we also gained networking experiencing at the NPF seminar. We had the pleasure of meeting Texas Representatives Rafael Anchia and Kenneth Sheets and Texas Senator Royce West. It was a great way to get to know fellow SHSU classmates and make lasting friendships, and I’m looking forward to future events with L.E.A.P.
Coby Steele: Day 3
We woke up to a nice cool morning on our last day in Dallas and set off for an early morning tour through downtown Dallas (on Segways). Having grown up not far from Dallas, I was surprised at how much I did not know about the city I had visited when I was younger. We saw fascinating parks around the city, historic sites like the Old Red Courthouse and the JFK Memorial, and Dealey Plaza, the site of JFK’s assassination, where some of us had a scare with Dallas traffic while taking pictures.
After lunch (at the Twisted Root Burger Company, featured on The Food Network), we returned to the SMU campus, this time to visit the George W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum. The library hosted many artifacts used and presented to President and Laura Bush during their time in the White House and trips abroad. The exhibits were laid out along a timeline starting at President Bush’s first campaign for the presidency. Through the exhibits we were able to step back through the major events that shaped the country at that time as well as hear President Bush’s explanations that led to his decisions. Hearing him explain in his own words his reasons for getting involved in the AIDS fight in Africa, the 2008 economic crisis and, most interestingly, the Iraq War, was the part I found most interesting, and it brought for me more understanding as to what was going on in the country’s executive office during those tumultuous years.
We arrived in Huntsville around 7:30pm, concluding a successful and educational trip. I learned a lot about a city near which I had grown up as well as ideas for a successful career in my chosen field.
Brian King: Day 3
The third and final day of our trip began with a Segway tour of downtown Dallas. Before we could begin, our tour guide gave us a crash course (no pun intended) on how to properly maneuver the Segway. Since this would be my first experience on a Segway, I looked forward to it being the tour of my hometown.
On the tour, my favorite buildings were the Old Red Museum and the Adolphus Hotel. The architecture (Romanesque style) and stone material (made of red sandstone and blue granite) of the Old Red Museum were the main components that caught my attention. Originally, the Old Red Museum operated as the Dallas County Courthouse. I really admired the distinct roof of the Adolphus Hotel, influenced by French architectural design (known as “Beaux-Arts” architecture) and also designed by Adolphus Busch (fun fact: founder of the Anheuser-Busch company). This building was known for some time as the tallest in the state of Texas. We also saw the Thanksgiving Chapel, designed by Philip Johnson (who also did the JFK Memorial)…
We stopped for lunch in the Deep Ellum District at Twisted Root Burger Co. After lunch, we visited the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum on the campus of SMU. The museum was very informative of not only Bush’s personal life, but more importantly, what made his character distinct from the other honorable gentlemen who have held the highest elected position in the United States of America.
The Bush Presidential Library was very interactive and engaging with various activities describing how the Bush Administration tackled social and global issues within the realms of domestic and foreign affairs. A distinct part of the Bush Presidential Library I really enjoyed was the father-son statue of George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush, just outside of the museum. To me, the statue represented two men of faith and noble character.
In all, I really enjoyed gaining insight from various actors in the field of politics: congressmen, political reporters, attorneys, and more. This was a great event for students to gain knowledge of what it takes to get into politics, as well as what to expect within the political field. I look forward to SHSU’s L.E.A.P. program preparing future graduates this type of opportunity.
The second day of our Dallas trip started early Saturday morning at the Southern Methodist University campus. SMU has one of the most beautiful campuses we have seen. The architecture is the first thing that captures your eye. Dallas Hall, for example, is beautiful, and it was the first building on SMU’s campus (1915), designed by Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge.
Also impressive was the John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies, the location for our New Politics Forum Seminar. Given Tower’s history serving Texas, it was a fitting venue for our conference on public careers.
Representative Sheets fell into politics through his work in the military and volunteering for the Republican Party. Unusual for a public official, he notes that he is horrible at remembering names. His tip for combating this is to always call someone “Ma’am” or “Sir.”
Representative Anchia, a first generation American, was the speaker who stood out the most to us. He emphasized that politics and public service are separate, and that the former should never get in the way of the latter. He was also spent the most time with students from SHSU, appearing impressed with the school’s LEAP program.
Our second session featured the keynote speaker, Senator Royce West. He is a fine speaker, and he interacted well with the audience.
He emphasized integrity as well as the importance of bipartisanship. He applied these qualities to his own career, and noted that he was able to save his own legislative agenda by “listening and working with people.” He also graciously stayed after with us, and encouraged us to continue getting the most out of our education.
The last panel of the day addressed the Media and was led by Carol Reed, of Reed PRC, and Gromer Jeffers, from the Dallas Morning News. Both, again, pressed issues of integrity and, members of the media, stressed credibility.
Following the event, we moved to Bandito’s Mexican Cantina for food and conversation. We met Casey Bingham, who works for Greg Abbott and is a member of the Young Republicans of Dallas.
We also met a student from UNT, who told us about a program the University offers focusing on non-profit economics.
We dined at Eatzi’s, a build-your-own meal place, that combines elements of a grocery story and a sit-down cafe. Here we enjoyed a wonderful array of foods. One of the must haves is the spicy spaghetti, with freshly prepared pasta and a spicy tomato sauce. If comfort food is your thing, the combination of the lemon chicken, mac and cheese, and mashed potatoes is the ideal combination. If you are adventurous, the sweet curry chicken offers a unique blend of ingredients and texture. For dessert, we visited a small gelato ship, and I Had the “Monkey Business” gelato, which was probably the best ice cream I’ve ever had, offering banana, cinnamon, vanilla, and—as a surprise—chocolate.
With some energy restored, we headed to Dallas City Hall, which was designed I. M. Pei, probably the most celebrated living architect. It was a beautiful and peaceful scene.
From there, we checked out Pioneer Plaza, which was created by Robert Summers, a Texas artist. It is the largest bronze sculpture in the world and makes for a dramatic scene in downtown Dallas.
We woke up Saturday morning at 7:30, eager to begin the day’s activities. We soon left for the Southern Methodist University campus and, on the way, we were able to get a glimpse of the George W. Bush Presidential Library, which we were excited to see as our group will be visiting the library the next day. When we arrived at the at SMU’s Hughes-Trigg Student center we were able to enter and get acclimated to where we would be spending most of our day.
The New Politics Forum was hosted by The Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life and the John G. Tower Center for Political studies at SMU. They were so kind as to provide participants with a complimentary breakfast array and time to socialize leading up to the first panel of the day.
Our group was the first to greet the event staff and we were able to meet many interesting students as they arrived. After enjoyable conversations, we were called to the first panel at 9:30.
On the first panel were three politicians, Representative Rafael Anchia, Representative Kenneth Sheets and Chancellor Lee Jackson, each providing unique perspectives. Rep. Anchia stressed knowing your constituents and being able to relate to them. Rep. Sheets centered his discussion on remaining true to yourself and what you believe in and not being beholden to others. Chancellor Jackson, a former State Representative, focused on professionalism, emphasizing the importance for young people to be well dressed and responsible on social media, but also by working hard and staying late. It was his easy going personality and his obvious breadth of knowledge and experience that made Chancellor Jackson the favorite of Brian, Coby and Zach.
The first panel was followed by the Keynote speaker, State Senator Royce West. He spoke of his work in the Texas Senate and shared his history that led him to elected office. Senator West engaged with the audience during his speech, speaking to each one of us directly at one point or another. He was inspirational and uplifting, and he spoke highly of the character, dedication and hard work it should take to be a public servant. The Senator’s speech was truly captivating.
After Senator West concluded we broke for a box lunch, making sure to sit with people we didn’t already know, to network, exchange business cards and make new friends.
The second panel was composed of consultant Carol Reed and Dallas Morning News reporter Gromer Jeffers, providing us the consummate “insider” and “outsider” perspectives. Both stressed taking advantage of opportunities. Ms. Reed particularly stressed loyalty and speaking your mind and Mr. Jeffers encouraged us to follow our passions while maintaining integrity. We were fortunate enough after the panel ended to have a short, personal discussion with Mr. Jeffers.
The last panel was the “We did it, so can you!” Alumni Panel, which consisted of SMU alumni Warren Seay, Kristina Kiik, David de la Fuente, and Johnathan Boos. During the Alumni Panel, Dr. Dennis Simon moderated as recent SMU graduates gave their personal insight into the field of politics. One NPF alumnus, Warren Seay, offered knowledge of his election to board president for the Desoto ISD school board at the age of 22, explaining that hard work, skill, and reputation play key roles in electoral politics.
The event was interesting, and provided us with the opportunity to see students from other schools. In some ways, these students are our competitors. In others, they are our partners. Zach struck a particular bond with a visiting member of the Dallas Young Republicans, Casey Bingham, a lawyer, who also graduated from Willis High School.
After the networking event, we ventured to Eatzi’s Market and Bakery for dinner, indulging in various entrees such as: lemon marinated grilled chicken, chicken curry potato salad, salmon croquette, and hummus. Dessert followed—various flavors of gelato (Italian ice cream) at Paciugo Gelato Café.
We then headed to the southern edge of downtown to see Dallas City Hall, built in 1978 by I.M. Pei. Pei designed the unique building in the shape of an inverted pyramid which appeared to lean toward the center of downtown, bringing the workers closer to the heart of the city. The building was commissioned to revamp the image of Dallas after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and it features one of the best views of downtown.
Moving down Flora St. we came to Pioneer Plaza which has a collection of metal cowboys and steer, depicting a cattle drive along the Shawnee Trail. These two stops concluded our long and educational day. After leaving the Plaza, we came back to the hotel to recoup and ready ourselves for our last day.
Saturday was the L.E.A.P students second day in Dallas. Each of us was up before sunrise to get ready for the central focus of our trip to Dallas, The New Politics Forum Careers in Politics at Southern Methodist University. We began by enjoying a complementary breakfast in the hotel lobby which included cinnamon rolls, cereal, fruit and even a pancake making machine!
We arrived at the SMU campus at 8:30 a.m. and began mingling with other program participants during the breakfast social.
The program consisted of several prominent speakers that would give advice to students about political and public service involvement as well as share their personal stories.
The first panel of speakers included Texas Representative Rafael Anchia, Texas Representative Kennith Sheets and Chancellor Lee Jackson. These distinguished public officials shared their stories of success along with their occasional frustrations working in government. Chancellor Jackson described his aversion to social media while Representatives Anchia and Sheets spoke of their succeess with social media in campaigning and re-election. When asked what each of their frustrations with policy making were, Representatives Anchia and Sheets bemoaned fundraising. However, Chancellor Jackson had a very different view. Chancellor Jackson, however, described some of the things he’d like to see enacted (e.g., professional salaries, annual sessions) as some of his biggest challenges.
Next, we heard from Senator Royce West, the keynote speaker. Senator West was very personable during his speech and never was there a dull moment! Senator West spoke of his career path and his journey to a Senatorial Seat. He opened the speech with a story about his college football coach. His sophomore year of college, he approached his coach and said. “Coach, I just don’t want to play football any more.” His coach began to get angry and said, “Royce, you’re never gonna amount to nothin’!” West was later elected president of Student Government and had to approve the football department’s budget. Before the football coach’s presentation, West said, “How do you like me now?” While his speech was funny and memorable, it also had purpose. He outlined four main points in his speech:
1. Try to work through the problem and work through it the best you can.
2. You can’t serve yourself and the public at the same time.
3. Listen and work with people ragardless of their political affiliation.
4. Most issues are geographical issues, not partisan issues.
He really strived to convey the message that being a public servant was not an easy path and has no room for self-interested thinking.
Next, a panel of media experts spoke about their experiences working within the political realm. The guest speakers were Carol Reed, President of The Reeds PRC and Gromer Jeffers, political reporter for the Dallas Morning News. Carol Reed worked on Senator John Tower’s campaign in 1976. She has also spearheaded “landmark” projects with American Airlines. Gromer Jeffers is originally from Chicago and he worked his way up the journalism ladder in Dallas, Texas. One of his first tasks as a political reporter was to cover Barack Obama’s presidency campaign.
After the media experts panel adjourned, the SMU alumni’s panel convened. The students included Warren Seay, President of DeSoto ISD Board of Trustees, Kristina Kiik, U.S. District Judge Royal, David de la Fuente, former President of Dallas County Young Democrats, and Jonathan Boos, President of Dallas County Young Republicans. The alumni discussed their experiences in the political world, both good and bad. They also shared a unanimous view that the best way for current college students to get involved in politics was to work on a campaign that we were passionate about.
After the Careers in Politics Conference, we enjoyed a lovely dinner at Eatzi’s. Eatzi’s has a wide variety of foods ranging from brisket tacos to chicken curry. The brisket tacos were delicious; however, they don’t compare to the brisket tacos at Farmhouse Sweets and Eats in Huntsville, Texas. Many of us became adventurous and tried new foods such as hummus, chicken curry and shrimp salad. After dinner, we ventured over to Paciugo Gelato Cafe for desert. There were so many flavors to choose from; however I chose peanut butter chocolate swirl. The gelato was unlike Blue Bell ice cream in so many ways! Gelato is much thicker, creamer and sweeter!
We concluded our night with two short pit stops. The first being Dallas City Hall. City Hall was built by I. M. Pei for 70 million dollars in the 1970s. It is an intriguing design, and made for a peaceful stop after a long day.
The building was constructed to allay the Texas heat, while also providing an intriguing design and a new image for a City known, at that time, as the home of Lee Harvey Oswald.
The second pit stop was the Dallas Pioneer Plaza Cattle Drive. The many statues of cattle depict authentic cattle drives in the south. There were seventy bronze statues of longhorns running through the park along with three bronze statues of cattle wranglers driving the herd. There are also beautiful water features throughout the Cattle Drive that help to add to the authenticity of the art.
In conclusion, today was a very memorable day! We learned a lot about politics from officials and experts that have been in the industry for quite a while. We were also able to expand our cultural knowledge and appreciation for Dallas, Texas!
I, and other students involved in the L.E.A.P program, set off on our adventure to Dallas around noon this Friday afternoon, stopping along the way to visit the esteemed Woodbine Hotel for lunch, which is known for making delicious meals slathered in mushrooms. I ordered the alfredo pasta with vegetables, and it was delightful. The mushrooms were all that they had been hyped to be. We set off again after lunch, full and anxious to continue on to Dallas.
We arrived at the JFK 6th Floor Museum and quickly began our tour. We exlored the early campaigning techniques of JFK, focusing partly on how he used his youth to his advantage, as well as having the opportunity to have one the first televised presidential debates. This may have proved decisive, as he won by a small margin.
What I thought was very interesting was learning more about the public works programs he established, specifically the Peace Corps. The Peace Corps is government funded mission work, originally established by JFK to send service people to foreign countries to try and aid in what he hoped would be the eradication of Communism. Eventually JFK decided that these measures alone were not enough and the program was expanded. For me, this was very inspirational and hit close to home, as I hope to one day become involved in the Peace Corps.
Next we ventured on to dinner, and from there to the Dallas Museum of Art. There were many interesting things to be seen here. There was art work by well-known artists such as Picasso to anonymous, cultural artifacts from all over the globe. My favorite exhibit by a wide margin was the African artifacts. I particularly enjoyed seeing and learning about the different types of hats and masks that were worn in Africa…
My favorite was a hat that doubles as a mask…
The Museum also had an African map, designating the location the artifacts were collected.
For a freshman who wishes to do volunteer work in Africa as a junior, it was an exciting preview of things to come! And in that spirit, we left the Museum and headed to the hotel, equally anticipatory of the second day of our trip.
Today was day one of our journey to Dallas for the New Politics Forum Careers in Politics Seminar at Southern Methodist University (SMU). As we had several stops on our itinerary, we departed SHSU at 12:00pm for Madisonville, where we would have lunch at the Woodbine Hotel.
The Woodbine Hotel, located in the heart of Madisonville, offers local specialties on its lunch menu. The atmosphere of the Woodbine was very inviting and warm and the food was delicious. The table was neatly set and there were cookies awaiting us as well. Several of the dishes showcased mushrooms since Madisonville is known for their mushroom farms and annual mushroom festival.
Departing The Woodbine, we set out for the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas, Texas. The drive was rocky due to thunderstorms; however, we managed to arrive safely. We embarked on our tour of the wonderful life and struggles of President John F. Kennedy. The Museum was set up to follow John F. Kennedy’s presidency chronologically. The tour started with his background and his family, then quickly moved to focus on issues that President Kennedy faced during his term, such as the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Civil Rights Movement.
The majority of the tour, however, focused on President Kennedy’s assassination. The exhibits were very detailed, with examples and models that explained how and where the assassination took place. There were several videos throughout the exhibit that went into further detail about his presidency and the aftermath of the assassination.
The seventh floor of the Museum held a presidential photograph display. There were multiple candid photos of presidents throughout their presidencies. My favorite was of President Barack Obama enjoying a taco at a small diner while talking to the citizens in the diner!
We then ventured out to Dealy Plaza, President Kennedy’s assassination site. We were able to view the “x” marks on the road marking the exact spot where President Kennedy was shot both times. The Museum was a very enlightening experience that really opened my eyes to the complexity of the Kennedy Presidency.
Next, we arrived at The Spaghetti Warehouse for dinner. The atmosphere was comparable to an old circus with a train car in the middle of the dining room in which customers could sit and eat. Fortune telling machines and bright colors decorated the interior of the restaurant’s entryway. My meal, and dessert, was very delicious, and the portions were enormous!
Last, we made an impromptu stop at the Dallas Museum of Art. We toured the different levels of the museum, each focusing on a different type of art, ranging from African art to Picasso.
My favorite painting was “Conversion of St. Paul” by Benjamin West. This painting explained the journey of St. Paul and was both moving and provocative.
I can’t wait for day two of our wonderful adventure!