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Trinity University International Students Go ‘Alternative’ and Spend Spring Break ’07 in Washington D.C.
By Inessa Stepanenko
Trinity international students Milana Dostanitch (left), Barbara Davalos (2nd from right), and Daniel Galindo (right) with International Student Advisor Inessa Stepanenko (2nd from left).

While MTV touted the beaches of Florida and Texas, three international students from Ecuador, USA/Mexico and Russia, headed for a Spring Break experience of a different kind. The temperature would be a tad cooler; the accommodations, less than posh; and there would be daily early wake up calls.

The purpose of this D.C. Alternative Spring Break was to provide an opportunity for a group of Trinity University international students – Milana Dostanitch from Russia and Cypress, Barbara Davalos from Ecuador, and Daniel Galindo from Mexico and the United States – to travel to the nation’s capital.  With the support from Trinity administrators, the economics department, and the offices of International Programs, Advancement, Development, and Alumni Relations, this group of world travelers found themselves on the steps of the Capitol – literally!

Trinity international students Daniel Galindo visits with Texas Senator John Cornyn.

The first evening in the city was spent experiencing the historic monuments come to life after dark. For the next four days, the theme was tourism. The group visited the buildings housing the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the U.S. government, the most visited sites in Washington. All three – the White House, the Capitol, and the Supreme Court – were stunning to behold and offered fascinating lessons in American history and government. 

On the day when President George W. Bush was ending a five-country visit to Latin America by stopping in Merida, Mexico, the group was visiting the White House.  From showers to flowers, spring is one of the beautiful seasons at the White House. In the Rose Garden, tulips and cherry blossoms bloomed beautifully under a warm spring sun.  On a self-guided tour, the group toured the Green Room, used for relaxed conversations; the Red Room, used for parties and State Dining; the Blue Room, center of the House; and the East Room, the largest in the White House. 

The Capitol has housed Congress since 1800 and is where presidents are inaugurated and deliver their annual State of the Union messages.  On a tour of the Capitol arranged by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and a Distinguished Trinity University alumnus, the group visited the chambers of the Senate where members of 110th US Congress were voting on a joint resolution to revise United States policy on Iraq.  The measure was defeated, but the students were thrilled to be sitting a short distance from Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, and Sen. Cornyn, just to name a few.

Trinity international students visit with William Suter.

At the Supreme Court, students were greeted by retired General William Suter, court clerk and also a Distinguished Trinity University alumnus.  After a private tour of the Supreme Court, the clerk invited the group for lunch at the famous the US Supreme Court cafeteria where justices often eat.  While at Trinity, Suter was captain of the basketball team, and the tour of the U. S. Supreme Court would not have been complete without playing hoops in “the highest court of the U.S.,” the basketball court. 

Next was a private tour of the World Bank led by J. Michael Finger, former Visiting Distinguished Professor of Economics at Trinity. The tour included lunch at the famous MC Café at the World Bank where food choices included cuisine from around the world. The group also heard a panel discussion on “Pro-active Policies: Cross cutting Instruments” presented by international authors and visited with the bank’s executive directors and board of directors.

One evening, the group visited the Trinity University National Capital Area chapter in the home of Ana Unruh Cohen, Trinity’s first Rhodes Scholar. The visit was arranged by chapter president Nicole Hobbs and included discussions of old and new traditions experienced by successful Trinity alumni as well as the international students.

The group also went on tours of the Holocaust Memorial Museum, Arlington National Cemetery, the Kennedy Center, the Organization of American States, and a Smithsonian museum.   

Spending Spring Break at home is often costly and time consuming for many international students.  The Alternative Spring Break to Washington D.C. provided a wonderful way to learn unforgettable lessons in American history and government, economics, international relations, and networking. Plans are under way to make the trip an annual tradition for Trinity’s international students.

Inessa Stepanenko is the International Student Advisor in Trinity’s International Programs Office. She accompanied the three students on the trip to Washington, D.C.  

© 2007 Trinity University

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