Being a tourist in my own town

I’ve lived within 30 minutes of Washington D.C. for the majority of my life. It’s our nation’s capital and a city that millions of visitors pour into and out of every year. The history mixed with the plethora of museums for whatever topic strikes your fancy, and the frequent fairs, festivals and events that come through means that there is never a shortage of places to visit and things to do.

Despite all this, my family and I have relegated our visits into the city to, well, school field trips and hosting extended family. I’ve been to the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum and the Air & Space Museum more times than I can count. My favorite exhibit is the gemstones and minerals, my least favorite is the one where you go through the tiny spacecraft and feel very cluster-phobic.

Last week, one of my very good friends visited town and we decided to conquer the still-relatively-new Newseum. Updated and renovated in 2008, I distinctively remember reading The Washington Post the day it opened, the Style or Metro section I believe, about the huge reproduction of the First Amendment on the face of it’s multi-storied building. Since then, I’ve wanted to visit and dedicate the time that the stories within its halls deserve to explore it, but I simply never had the chance.

"Wait, we have to take a selfie."

“Wait, we have to take a selfie.”

Until Marama decided to visit.

Over the two and a half years we’ve been at Hypable together, Marama has grown to be one of my closest friends. She may live 14 hours ahead of me most of the time, but we make our time difference-friendship work. This is her second year what I have dubbed ‘The Australian takes on America’ tour. She jumps around major U.S. cities for the month of July before settling in with most of the Hypable team (sadly, not including me) in California for San Diego Comic-Con.

Knowing that she is a journalist and would probably appreciate the change of pace from the Smithsonian museums, I suggested we visit the Newseum. The day we went, it was relatively empty and we spent around two hours there but we could have spent much more time pouring over every detail that has gone into the curation of stories. Thinking now, it’s overwhelming to try and explain all that there is to see.

The horror and terror that has plagued our world is documented on 200 years-worth of newspapers, television segments and tweets. But there is also joy and triumph. Women breaking through the glass-ceiling of journalism particularly stood out to the two of us because of obvious reasons, and the pomp and circumstance of the Olympic games – uniting the world for brief blips in time.

Going through the 9/11 exhibit was hard. Going through the Berlin Wall exhibit was hard. It was overwhelming at times, but worth it in the end. Journalists and reporters have risked their lives for centuries trying to tell the truth and report the newsworthy stories we need to know. It makes me think about the current events of today – the Iraq war, and now with Palestine and Israel’s attacks mounting on each other, and Russia and the Ukraine. This is history in the making, every day. It makes me wonder what we will say in twenty years, or how these stories will be told to kids in their history classes.

Marama and I walked around for a little bit afterwards and said our goodbyes for another year. Then there was a train broken down on the Orange line three stops before mine, thus reminding me of the hassle that is dealing with D.C.


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