A love letter to Washington D.C.


From left to right: Gabrielle Lazo 25, Juliet Cortes ’23, Alyssa Ramirez ’24, Mary Nassar ’22, Rebecca Nassar ’25, and Jenny Hurtado ’23 beaming in front of the Capitol Building. (Photo Provided by @rosaryroyals Instagram)

Mary Nassar, News Editor, Creative Writing Editor

February 20-25, 2022. One of the best weeks of my life. This was the week of Rosary’s Washington D.C. trip sponsored by Close-Up, a foundation that provides engaging, hands-on student programs in D.C. At first, when Rosary was advertising the trip back in the summer, my sister and I were ecstatic and couldn’t wait for February to come. However, when February started to draw closer, I started to doubt if I really wanted to go on the trip. I would be missing a week of Red and Gold practice, a week of school, and I knew I would have so much work to make up when I came back, plus the stress of missing out on some Red and Gold practice as a captain. However, I reminded myself that everything would work out, and going to D.C. would be worth making up some homework.

And I couldn’t have been more right.

I’ve been contemplating how to format this article because I know I could talk about this trip forever and ever. But I’ll spare you my incessant rambling. Instead, I’ll talk about my favorite memories from each day and my highlights about the trip as a whole.

So let’s dive into the highlight reel.

February 20:

My favorite part of Sunday was probably dinner. I got to sit with the other Rosary girls on the trip: Juliet Cortes ’23, Jenny Hurtado ’23, Alyssa Ramirez ’24, Rebecca Nassar ’25, and Gabrielle Lazo ’25. Some of these girls I knew pretty well, but I didn’t know some of them at all. Well, it took one dinner to change that. By the end of the one hour, we were best friends, laughing hysterically and instating our new nickname for ourselves: the Valley girls. Another highlight was most definitely the conservative vs. liberal debate after dinner. For an hour, everybody on the program (there were schools from many different states on the trip including: California, Alabama, Georgia, Iowa, Florida, Michigan, and Missouri) could ask the conservative and liberal D.C. insiders different questions about domestic policy issues, and the conservative and liberal would each give their perspective on the issue. The debate was lively and thought provoking, and I was able to listen to different views on the same issue and see the pros and cons of each side, even on views I didn’t completely agree with.

February 21:

What I remember most from Monday was how jet lagged and exhausted we all were. We hit the ground running right in the morning, sites and memorials. My favorite sites that we visited this day was the Jefferson Memorial and MLK Memorial. Both were right near the water, and it was such an exhilarating feeling to feel the cool breeze dance through my curls while looking on these incredibly built memorials. My favorite part of Monday was definitely trying to Postmates hibachi right before the public policy workshops started.

The Valley girls are all smiles at Jefferson Memorial even though they’re all dealing with extreme jet lag. (Photo Provided by Gabrielle Lazo)
The girls of Workshop 7 are all smiles in front of the water near the MLK Memorial. (Photo Provided by Gabrielle Lazo)

Allow me to explain.

So before the different public policy workshops was dinner at the hotel. And let’s just say we weren’t exactly crazy about the hotel food, so we asked Mr. Chavez and Mrs. Jenkins if we could Postmates food, and they readily agreed, but our workshops were starting, and not all of us were in the same workshop, so we had to throw in the towel on ordering food. (However, we would prevail on Tuesday. We ordered the hibachi during breakfast, picked it up before we had to go into our rooms for the night, and enjoyed a feast of chicken, beef, rice, and noodles. Spoiler Alert: IT WAS SOOOO GOOD.)

Anyway, enough with my fangirling over food. Let’s keep going.

Juliet Cortes ’23 secures the hibachi for our gourmet feast on Tuesday night. (Photo Provided by Gabrielle Lazo)

February 22:

Tuesday was the day we saw a lot of the memorials in D.C., and my favorites were most definitely the Lincoln Memorial, the Airforce Memorial, and the Iwo Jima Memorial. On my D.C. trip in 8th grade, I remember immediately loving the Lincoln Memorial when I laid eyes on it. The same was true this time around. I not only adored the architecture, but walking up the steps and standing by the Grecian columns, I felt so small compared to the hundreds of years of history all around me. I also loved the Airforce Memorial because it had a view of the whole city, and it was absolutely gorgeous to see all the historic sites of D.C. all in one view. The Iwo Jima Memorial was also incredible to see because of the illusion where from certain angles, it looks like they’re putting the flag into the ground, and from other angles, it looks like they’re pulling the flag out of the ground.

My friend Abe and I hanging out on just another rainy day at the Lincoln Memorial. (Photo Credit: Mary Nassar)

However, a core memory from Tuesday was most definitely the Mock Congress simulation.

Now, everyone in the program was split up into 8 workshops, with a mix of people from all the different schools. In each of the workshops, we were given a certain bill that’s in Congress right now. I was in Workshop 7 with Rebecca and Gabby, and our workshop got the bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. We were split into two sides to debate the bill: one half of the workshop would argue that the bill should be passed, and the other half of the workshop would argue that the bill should be killed. I was put on the side to argue that it should be killed, and we each had about 30 seconds to make an argument for our side. From there, two people were chosen from each side, and then we would be sent argue our cases on the “floor” of Congress, which was just groups from the other workshops. I was chosen to be a Con Lobbyist, where I had 4 minutes to argue before my small group why they should vote to kill the bill and answer their questions about the bill. Even though the whole thing was a little nerve-wracking and overwhelming to come up with an argument against a bill I actually supported and a bill I had only learned about a half hour before, I absolutely loved every second of it. Being able to write out my arguments, argue them before a small group of people, and answer their questions was so awesome to live out my dream of being in Congress. Even in the smallest way possible.

Peace signs over the incredible of Washington D.C. from the Airforce Memorial. (Photo Credit: Mary Nassar)
The Iwo Jima Memorial in all its glory. (Photo Credit: Mary Nassar)

February 23:

Now, Wednesday was most definitely one of the best days out of the whole week. Because it was CAPITOL HILL DAY. On Wednesday, we spent most of the day with our own school where we were able to meet our representative in the House (for the district that Rosary is in, our representative is Rep. Young Kim) and with the time we had left in the day, we could pretty much do whatever else we wanted. Unfortunately, Rep. Young Kim was in Israel while we were in D.C., but we got to meet her staff members. We started off the day by taking pictures in front of the Capitol Building (I could marvel at the Capitol Building forever and never get tired of it). Then, we walked over to the building holding all the House members’ offices, and were able to sit in Rep. Young Kim’s office with some of her staff members and talk to them about D.C., working in the government, working for a representative, and about some of Young Kim’s policies. Let’s just say it was a dream come true to be so close to the inner workings of government. After our appointment, it was a 20 minute walk to lunch: a Seafood restaurant called Oceanaire. I loved walking around all of D.C. and immersing myself in the beauty and history of the city. The restaurant was absolutely gorgeous, and the food was delicious (the shrimp scampi was divine and the Parmesan Truffle Fries were to die for). After lunch, we had tickets to see the National  Museum of African American History and Culture. There are no words to describe how incredibly moving and emotional the museum was and how well done and well thought out the layout and design for it was. If you’re ever in D.C., going to see it is an absolute must. And at night, we got to see the Washington Monument light up the city. And even though I was freezing and it was unnecessarily windy, it was a pretty amazing sight to see.

Rebecca Nassar ’25, Gabrielle Lazo ’25, Jenny Hurtado ’23, Juliet Cortes ’23, Alyssa Ramirez ’24, and Mary Nassar ’22 beam in front of Representative Young Kim’s office. (Photo Provided by Gabrielle Lazo)
The Rosary girls sit in Representative Young Kim’s office as they talk with members of her staff. (Photo Provided by @rosaryroyals Instagram)
The Rosary girls enjoy a delicious lunch with Mrs. Jenkins and Mr. Chavez at Oceanaire. (Photo Provided by @rosaryroyals Instagram)

February 24:

My favorite site to see on Thursday was the White House. Now, as you all know, Thursday was the day that Russia invaded Ukraine. So visiting the White House that day and seeing protesters outside speaking against the invasion was a surreal and sobering experience. It made me appreciate my rights and liberties as an American citizen even more. We also had a seminar where a spokesperson from Rock the Vote, a non-profit in the United States dedicated to building the political power of young people, spoke to us about the new voting restrictions in certain states, Shelby County v. Holder, the 15th and 19th Amendments, and instilled how powerful our vote was as young people. Rock the Vote has a website where it details how you can register to vote in your state, and it’s a great resource to make sure your voice is heard in government. Thursday night, we had a banquet and were able to talk one last time with the people we met on the program before people would be leaving the next day. Funnily enough, I actually got to meet a lot of new people in those last few hours, and I got to talk with people from all over the country, like Samir and Monica from Florida (who are the funniest people you’ll ever meet, Joel from Alabama (who has impeccable music taste and interesting thoughts about Bama Rush TikTok), and many others, and I think one of the best parts of the trip was getting to meet people from different states and have my worldview open up immensely. Even though I’m probably never going to see these people again, the conversations and bonds we’ve formed in that short period of time will stay in my heart for a lifetime. (Although we’re probably going to see Samir again because he told me and the other Rosary girls that if we were ever in Miami, we absolutely had to let him know. Spring break, anyone?).

The Rosary girls are in awe of the White House. (Photo Provided by Jenny Hurtado)

February 25:

And now we’ve come to the last day of the trip (*crying emoji*). Some schools left early because they had early morning flights that day, but Rosary was pretty lucky because our flight wasn’t leaving until 5 in the afternoon, so we basically had an extra day to do whatever we wanted. We decided to go back to Georgetown (because we had already gone Wednesday with all the schools from the program, but it was a definite hot mess, and we don’t talk about it). Thankfully, this trip to Georgetown was an incredible success. We took the metro over there, and we first grabbed a Starbucks (obviously, we’re California girls, what do you expect?), blushed at the cute Georgetown boys in the Starbucks (Mr. Chavez didn’t approve), and decided we wanted to go see Georgetown University (which was absolutely gorgeous and made me seriously regret not applying, but hey, there’s always grad school!). Then, we set out on an extremely important, classified, top-secret mission: shopping. We went to Brandy Melville and Urban Outfitters (which are both so much better in D.C. than here), grabbed some cookies from Levain Bakery, and went to an Italian restaurant called Filomena for lunch. The love I have for this restaurant and our waiter is unmatched. The restaurant’s décor is so romantic, and our waiter was so helpful in telling us what the most popular dishes were on the menu. We ended up ordering 3 plates of different pasta dishes, and when I tell you it was the best Italian food I’ve ever had. I’m salivating thinking about it right now. After our delicious lunch, we sprinted to go meet Mr. Chavez and Mrs. Jenkins (because we were fashionably late), and then we had to go to the airport to catch our flight home.

The Rosary girls look so small compared to the grandeur of Georgetown University. (Photo Provided by Jenny Hurtado)

Rosary Girls’ Thoughts:

And here are what the other Rosary girls have to say about the D.C. trip!

Jenny Hurtado ’23 shares her favorite memories from the trip: “One of my favorite memories from our D.C trip was Capitol Hill day, starting the day with going to meet our county representative, to visiting a museum that strengthened our knowledge of African American History and culture, going to the roof of the John F. Kennedy Center of Performance, to rushing to the Washington Monument so that we could get to experience the feeling of history, to lastly running down the streets of Georgetown like the characters of “Monte Carlo,” so we would get a chance to try their famous cupcakes but make it back on time for the bus. I would absolutely recommend attending this trip with Rosary and all of the amazing people of Close-Up that make the trip fun, informative, and overall memorable. This trip is not just another week of vacation or school; it’s more of a week filled with amazing opportunities to find oneself as well as to build unforgettable memories and new friends from all sorts of different states.”

Alyssa Ramirez ’24 also shares what she loved most about visiting D.C.: “I had so many amazing memories from our Washington D.C. trip. We got to visit so many difference monuments. My two favorite stops were the FDR Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial. Some of my favorite memories were getting to laugh with  everyone at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We were able to strength our sisterhood as the week went on. We also got the opportunity to meet other people from other states. Shout out to Samir, Javi, Brendan, Jackson, the guy who wore the same shoes everyday. My personal favorite memory was our spy mission to get our Postmates up to our room before Jodi (Close-Up leader) found out. If you get the opportunity to go on this trip, you definitely should. You will get to grow as an individual, meet so many new people, and see so many historic sites that we learn about at school.”

And finally, Rebecca Nassar ’25 shares her insights into the trip: “My favorite memory from the trip has been the last day when the Rosary girls all went shopping in Georgetown. Another favorite memory definitely is when we Postmated hibachi to our hotel room! It was a funny experience that always makes me laugh when I look back on it. The best place we visited was the Lincoln Memorial. After seeing it in so many movies, it was surreal to see it in person. Also, just walking around D.C. in general and seeing so many significant buildings and places was super cool. I recommend everyone go on this trip because it has truly had an impact on me and has made me realize things about myself I didn’t know. Ialso got to grow close to the best group of Rosary girls I could ask for!!”

Final Thoughts:

I’m just now realizing that I said it would be a short article in the beginning, but I’ve just written a whole new Harry Potter series on my D.C. experiences. For that I deeply apologize, but there’s so much to say on the trip, and I haven’t even exhausted half of what happened, but these are just some of the (many) memories from the trip that I cherish and hold dear in my heart. From visiting historic monuments to simping over San Francisco, Florida, and Alabama boys (don’t ask, it’s a long, embarrassing story of falling for juniors, and that’s a whole other article), I fell deep in love for our nation’s capital and made so many wonderful memories with old and new friends. I found that my fondest memories from the trip were more than visiting all the wonderful sites: it was the little moments in between, the inside jokes (it’s the way Belen), the laughing till our sides hurt, the walking around the city like we own the place.

So, if you have the means to go and are even slightly interested, I highly recommend you go on the trip because the memories you make there are unmatched to any other trip. And if you need any more information on the trip, please ask Mr. Chavez in Room 202 or talk to me or any of the other Rosary girls that went, and we’d be more than happy to answer any of your questions. Rosary usually holds the trip every 2 years, but there could be a trip even as soon as next year, so keep on the lookout for any information in the next few years about the next Rosary Washington D.C. trip!