Freshmen experience D.C. in new program

GW introduced a new program last week to better acquaint freshmen with the District.

Experience D.C., a co-curricular program organized by the Student Activities Center, was a two-and-a-half day program that allowed participants to choose between three tours of the city, engage in a nighttime activity and to move in early. The program had about 170 participants in its inaugural year and was led by a team of student guides.

“The feedback so far has been incredible, and everyone from participants to guides seemed to enjoy the program” said Associate Director of SAC Tim Miller. “The purpose of (Experience DC) was to get people acclimated to GW and D.C. and also to give them a community of people that they are connected to before school starts.”

The “Introduction to D.C.” tour featured tourist-focused activities like tours of the monuments, the Capitol and the Supreme Court, Miller said. The arts and culture tour focused on visiting galleries and theaters around the city, while the local history tour featured a boat ride from Old Town Alexandria to Mount Vernon, as well as a tour of the historic U Street area.

Depending on their choices, students had the opportunity to explore Adams Morgan, attend a Nationals game, see a show at the Kennedy Center and visit Arlington, among other things.

Miller added that the tours took place during the daytime and that the “Introduction to D.C.” tour was the most popular with 110 participants, followed in popularity by the arts tour and the history tour.

Experience D.C. was offered for the first time this year as a third choice in addition to previous co-curricular programs Project Exploration, an outdoor adventure trip in West Virginia, and Community Building Community, a community service program.

Students were able to sign up for any of the three programs at Colonial Inauguration, and Experience D.C. proved so popular that SAC increased the program’s capacity.

“It actually went past capacity,” Miller said. “We were originally only going to let 100 people do it, and then it was so popular that I increased it to 150, and then that filled up so quickly that I increased it again and we ended up with about 170 people in the program.”

Students who selected the Experience D.C. program over other programs said they wanted to take advantage of exploring the campus and city before the start of the school year.

“I chose Experience DC over all other early move-in programs mainly because of my lack of familiarity with the city,” freshman Kayla Cameron said. “I’ve only been here a few times, two of which were GW-related, and so I wanted to gain some insight into a strange city that is slowly becoming my home.”

At a cost of $110, Cameron added that she thought the program was a bargain, especially with the opportunity to move in before other students.

“The cost for such a rewarding program fell far below what I expected,” Cameron said. “We had six decent meals, free metro rides, numerous tours, fun nighttime activities and a chance to move in before the chaos. I had expected that the cost would be much higher.”

Senior Sara Neumann, Experience D.C.’s lead guide, said the program exceeded expectations and faced minimal setbacks due to rainy weather.

“When you plan things for incoming freshmen, you never know what kind of turnout you will get, but our turnout was awesome,” Neumann said. “The guides were wonderful to work with and it was really great to work with Tim and to have his vision and plans materialize into an awesome program.”

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