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Let’s Get Close Up

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The junior class '18, speaking with Belen alumni in D.C.

The junior class '18, speaking with Belen alumni in D.C.

The junior class '18, speaking with Belen alumni in D.C.

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You may think this title is grammatically incorrect and should say “Let’s get up close,” and you’d be wrong. What I mean by “Let’s get Close Up”, is let’s understand Close Up. Close Up is a junior year trip to Washington D.C. that our school offers each year. The trip itself is about $1,700 and worth every penny. It is run by the Close Up Foundation, a nonprofit educational organization in the United States. The mission of this foundation is to inform, inspire, and empower young people to exercise the rights and accept the responsibilities of citizens in a democracy.

Close Up was an almost surreal experience. I was given freedom and the ability to improve my political efficacy at the same time. Close Up gives you the opportunity to learn more about your government, beyond your government classroom or civics class. To recount something that impacted me, the organization set up an event where a liberal and conservative debated policies brought up by students. In the debate, the students were given green and red cards to use to signify their agreement or disagreement with what one of the speakers was saying.

This experience also gave me a sense of freedom since everyone could express their own political and societal beliefs in a relatively safe place. Others will disagree of course, and Close Up is the perfect place to settle those disagreements. Workshops facilitate those discussions, and there’s no time to rest when your brain is constantly being prodded with questions.

The excursions are my final selling point. Personally, my roommates, who I keep in contact with, were what made the excursions so memorable. We’d go out as a unit, and we’d eat and talk like a family. In museums and monuments, we had total freedom to explore and learn in our own ways. When we’d go to different parts of D.C. for lunch or dinner, we ventured through shops and different eateries. It felt like going on a fast-paced road trip with best friends I’d just met. Though, if you’re still skeptical, don’t just take my word for it. First, I interviewed Carlos Sosa ’18.

Q: What was the most memorable part of Close Up?

A: Going to Arlington. Just the power in that place. It’s really sobering. You go and you see the price people have paid to preserve freedom in this country. It’s a big chunk of land, so you see that and the endless rows of graves, and it changes you a little.

Q: How was living with roommates?

A: Our roommates first arrived at 3:00 AM. We just chilled for the most part. We respected each other’s boundaries. It’s a strange experience, but one I’d recommend, especially on Close Up since it’s a more controlled environment.

I had a different set of questions for the next person I interviewed. Here’s what Marlow Marimon ’18 had to say.

Q: Was Close Up how you were expecting it to be?

A: It exceeded my expectations. I thought the trip was going to be very restricted like some other trips in the school, but Close Up isn’t run by the school. It gives you a really good balance of experiencing things and learning at the same time. For example, at some of the monuments, they drop you off and send you on your way to experience those monuments how you want to experience them.

How was the food?

Q: The food is what you make of it basically. I suggest you come with a credit card and get snacks when you can. A backpack is essential. The food is also kind of expensive at some of these places, so be ready.

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The Student News Site of Belen Jesuit Preparatory School
Let’s Get Close Up