Reported by: Tarina Ahuja, The Madeira School and Mari Woodworth, Fredericksburg Academy
A day that began with obligatory small talk, a group picture, and a walking tour under the iconic UVA columns, turned into an evening of thought-provoking discussion. Today was our first day of HSLP and we kicked off the program with a detailed discussion of the procedures for the program and an overview of the speaker filled two weeks. Afterward, Ms. Campbell lead us in an exercise that had us explore political identity and our innate conceptions of American political parties. For dinner, we were surprised with an exceptional meal of kebabs, hummus, green beans, and sauces galore! While we were enjoying our delicious meal, Mr. Walls challenged us to an engaging discussion that began with an intriguing question: “What is politics?” We as a group were rather stumped. All of us were forced to think deeply about the true meaning of public service and its impacts on everyday life. We even had an unexpected debate on the topic of voting regulations that pushed us to defend our viewpoints on the issue. This gave us a preview to the engaging and open discussions we will be having later in the week and helped get everyone in the right frame of mind to succeed in the course.
Following a short break, we all headed into the kitchen and were surprised to find a mini ice cream party set up for us. Later that night we spent a fun, yet tiring, hour exploring the campus and searching for a CVS (many of us were not expecting this program to require any athleticism). While it took longer than previously expected, it provided an opportunity to have a dynamic conversation outside of an academic setting and bond as a class. Everyone ended the day feeling much closer to their peers and ready to face the coming weeks.
We cannot wait to see what this program will hold! What we do know, is that we will grow, learn, and connect with those around us.