We’re missing something here at Georgetown. Something big. Something unique. Something all around us. We’re missing Washington, D.C. That city, our city, is one of the biggest reasons we came here. Yet during our four years, something (called college) happens and we never take advantage of the district the way we should.

And you know what? It’s not our fault. Between classes, campus activities, jobs and socializing, we have our hands as full, if not more full, than the average college student. We came here with visions of internships, museums and monuments dancing in our heads. But too quickly we learned that taking advantage of the district meant letting go of some other valuable part of our college experience.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. There is an alternative. There is a way for Georgetown students to get as much from academics and campus life as they would if they went to school in, say, rural New Hampshire, while at the same time taking full advantage of the city that brought them here. Georgetown students should spend a semester in the district.

For those of you unfamiliar with American University’s program, here’s a quick summary: Students from colleges across the country spend a semester of their junior year at American, immersing themselves in the district’s culture. They work on an internship two days a week, take district-focused classes, do a research project and generally experience Washington, D.C. – with field trips, guest speakers and the like. The whole point is to give them an entire semester to absorb the city itself. Obviously, Georgetown’s program would differ from American’s in important ways. While American’s program aims to introduce students to the city, Georgetown’s would enable students to take advantage of the city to which have they already been exposed.

While it’s impossible to go into great detail about the structure of the program, as its design would take the input of the entire university community, one can easily imagine some of its chief features: a full-time internship, opportunities to explore the city’s cultural attractions and a seminar to synthesize the various experiences. Students might also be able to explore research opportunities, as in the American University program. Whatever its final structure, the program’s greatest strength would hopefully be its flexibility.

Students who chose to participate would benefit tremendously from this program. They could obtain a personal cultural education through visits to the National Gallery, the Smithsonian and other fine institutions in the district in addition to theatrical and musical performances without worrying about the homework they should be doing. Students would have the time to do the things that they are always saying they would do, if they had the time.

Most students would also profit greatly from a full-time internship. The district is rich with internship opportunities for students from many subject areas. Government and economics are obvious examples, but Georgetown’s English majors could spend a semester working at the Folger Shakespeare Library or The Washington Post. Students interested in non-profit work will find the city filled with worthy causes. And since it seems like half of each class goes to law school anyway, one could always work for one of the many high-powered firms in the district.

Internships can be a great opportunity for students to connect what they are learning with the outside world. They can also offer valuable contacts and work experiences. The only real problem with internships is that they require a extensive time commitment and effort before the real gains start. If you put enough time in, they can be incredible. But until that point, you get little from them except a line on your resume. And when you’re in school, it is nearly impossible to have a meaningful internship without sacrificing academic performance and extracurricular participation. Through the semester in the district program, Georgetown students would have the freedom to work full-time in a district area internship and to reap the rewards that come with it.

If Georgetown is missing the district, we have a chance to find it. The university community should consider whether students would benefit from having the option to take a semester to learn from the city that is our home.

Quietly Making Noise appears regularly in The Hoya.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.