March 18, 2012
This past Wendesday, our fearless leader, Professor Eismeier, managed to use his connections and snag us an invite to the state welcoming ceremony of Prime Minister David Cameron of England. We woke up very, very, early but needless to say it was worth it. As you already know, a few weeks ago we visited the White House, but in a very different capacity. This event was great and pulled out all the stops--we were able to score a spot right next to the Air Force band, which entertained the crowd with a number of songs. We arrived at the South Lawn around 8 am, awaiting the President and Prime Minister's arrivals, which were scheduled for around nine. The weather couldn't have been better, and as expected, the lawn itself was immaculate.
The pair and their wives showed up right on time, and began by taking a lap around the sectioned-off part of the lawn. Led by a military escort, the two took a long time to shake hands and wave extremely presidentially, and came about ten feet away from where we were standing. I know, kind of a big deal. After a five-minute lap. they took to the podium and greeted the crowd. Obama first, who started off with a handful of well-crafted and highly-scripted jokes about March Madness and the burning of the White House in the War of 1812. Of course, the address eventually turned to some real issues facing the two ally countries, and then he handed off to Prime Minister Cameron. To no real surprise, his address was more of the same--same joke content and positive sentiments about the future of the countries' relationship. Addresses finished and properly appreciated, the four of them walked up the stairs into the White House, played off by the bands on hand. A few photo-ops later, and we were gone. Definitely a great and memorable experience--this was the first time I'd seen a president, current or former, in person and the grand circumstance and phenomenal weather ensured it to be enjoyable.
By extreme coincidence, I followed this today by seeing a current presidential candidate entirely unexpectedly. Along with a number of others from the program, I went to play some pick-up basketball in a nearby neighborhood, owing to the great weather and desire to procrastinate working on my paper. After we finished, my roommate Sam and I walked a couple blocks to our favorite falafel spot, Amsterdam Falafel, and picked up our weekly fix. I finished first, and walked outside. There the scene I encountered was intriguing, to say the least. To my left, a number of intimindating, all-black SUVs, surrounded by men in dark suits. A few of them asked for people to clear the sidewalks for a moment. A few seconds later, Newt Gingrich and his wife Callista stepped out of one of the cars, and flanked by Secret Service escorts, entered a nearby French restaturant to grab some dinner, while two Secret Service officers stood outside the door. The scene was nearly surreal--Newt waved to some of the awed onlookers with an almost goofy smile on his face, while Callista's unnaturally-shiny and silver hair did its best to steal the gazes of all those nearby. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure why Newt was in the District and not in any of the number of the states with upcoming primaries, though I suppose everyone deserves a day off.
With Newt and Callista now out of sight, we continued on our way home (of course keeping an eye out for any other presidential candidates that might pop up) and so concluded an eventful week.
Major / Minor: Public Policy / Hispanic Studies
Activities: soccer, WHCL DJ, The Spectator, Operation Smile
Favorite pastimes: Spending too much time following soccer, midnight breakfast at the diner, late night video game sessions, wasting time at Opus, watching reruns of The Office, napping and playing obnoxiously loud music
Hometown: Maplewood, N.J.
High School: Columbia High School