Interview: Norman Provizer

Had the opportunity to sit down for an interview with Norman while I was in Washington, D.C. Some of the pictures that accompany our discussion have already appeared on the blog and some you'll be seeing for the first time. 

This is one of a few pieces I am adding to the blog in a wrap-up of sorts of my time spent experiencing D.C. with our students. Watch for the next few additions soon. 


Witnessing History

Sorry for the delay in posting to the blog ... I've been walking and working hard.

We've had a busy couple of days. Where to begin?

Friday, June 6

On Friday, we took a walk see the hotel that was the scene of an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan. We saw Dupont Circle. Oh, and we recovered my missing camera from the offices of The American Interest where I left it. Which means that the above gallery has photos from the daily press briefing at the White House ... yeah!

We stopped in at an interesting meeting at the Center for Strategic & International Studies. The topic was U.S.-China relations. The speakers were Admiral William A. Owens, who served as the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1994-96; General Ronald R. Fogleman, who served as the 15th Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force; and General John M. Keane, who is a former Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army. The group was part of the Sanya Initiative which brings together retired senior military leaders from the U.S. and China to openly discuss, in an informal environment, the relationship between the two countries. It was interesting to hear that, at least from their perspective, relations with China are the most important foreign relationship that the U.S. can be cultivating and strengthening.

We spent time at the National Law Enforcement Memorial that includes the names of all fallen officers throughout the entire country. Suffice it to say, it was rows upon rows of carefully scribed names of men and women who lost their lives protecting and serving. Of course, honoring human sacrifice is a large part of what makes Washington, D.C. so intimately humbling and infinitely reflective.

After a self-guided tour of the National Building Museum, the students got the opportunity to visit with Richard Bissell, director of policy and global affairs for the National Academy of Sciences. Bissell explained the essentially symbiotic role that the National Academies--also comprised of the National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council--plays in advising the federal government about issues such as health care and transportation. While not a government entity, it is clear that the research that happens and the advice that is given is clearly vital to innovation and advancement.

We concluded yesterday with a quick stop at the Kennedy Center. Students and their cameras were beaming at the spectacular 360 degree view of Washington, D.C. afforded from the roof. It was a wonderful way to end an intellectually satisfying day.

Saturday, June 7

We witnessed history today. As everyone knows, this year's presidential election is groundbreaking with the first woman and first African American making tremendous waves. Before today, I guess you'd say that Barack Obama was merely the presumptive Democratic nominee. After Hillary Clinton's concession speech before thousands at the National Building Museum this afternoon, Obama became official. The scene was electric. Campaign button-toting supporters, babies with Dem shirts, the media, and even Ted Danson were all in fine form to hear what Clinton would say. And, I'm thinking she didn't disappoint. She officially went on the stump for her former competitor and fellow Dem. She even managed the words that many have been waiting for and many others have been praying against. "We must help elect Barack Obama as president."

It really didn't matter which area of the political spectrum the students reside in--all would agree, I think, that they witnessed history today.

That's pretty much a wrap for now ... if you've made it this far, thanks!

Headed in to Hillary Clinton

Headed in to Hillary Clinton speech at National Building Museum ... history in the making.


Attending a briefing on U.S.-China

Attending a briefing on U.S.-China relations at the Center for Strategic & International Studies.

Front Row Seats at 1600 Pennsylvania: Priceless

Yesterday was definitely an interesting day. We started out on a walking tour of some areas around the White House--saw a bunch of statues. One of the coolest views of the city is from the observation deck of the Old Post Office. The brave students that decided to take the journey, albeit in an elevator, to the top were rewarded with a 360 angle of breathtaking visuals. Washington, D.C. is most certainly a city that makes one feel very, very small. In the midst of grand history, affluent culture and huge buildings, more than once I've heard the students say just how humbled they are to be experiencing in real-time the concepts and theories that most have only really read about in books or seen on TV.

Probably the highlight of yesterday was the opportunity to sit in on the daily press briefing at the White House. Of course, the journalist in me wanted to be throwing questions at Dana Perino about the latest goings-on in the Bush White House. I instead refrained and sat in awe. I had the opportunity to sit down with a couple of students at yesterday's conclusion. I still need to do a quick edit on the audio, but I will plan to post the audio reports by tomorrow. Also, I took pictures at the press briefing, etc. that are on a camera that seems to have misplaced itself. So, until (I'm being optimistic) I find the camera ... those pictures will have to wait.

We continued our busy day with a visit to The American Interest, a political magazine that publishes six times a year. We sat down with Editor Adam Garfinkel and discussed a variety of topics: the 2008 presidential race, the war in Iraq and the hyper irrelevancy of the mainstream media. The discourse was intense as the long time journalist and former speechwriter for the Secretary of State navigated the depths of his mind and experiences.

Last night, we took a stroll down to Washington Harbor and Georgetown. Really happening places with shopping and restaurants galore.

Feet are blistered, shoulders are burned and minds are being expanded.

Lizeth Chacon records the view looking towards the U.S. Capital building

View from the Old Post Office observation deck.

The Old Post Office

Fountain in Washington Harbor

The A-List

Good morning!

Lots to try and get through in the few minutes that I have before we head out for today's adventures.

First, an introduction of student participants:

James Armstrong
Stephanie Bullen
Lizeth Chacon
Morgan Feldhamer
MacKenzie Lintz
Alexis Marsh
Conor O'Neil
Brandon Peterson
Allie Rocheleau
Anthony Stachowitz
Kathleen Van Voorhis
Erin Woodward


Day Two

It's Thursday. Day Two. Oh, the joys that are sleeping on a dorm room mattress!

It was nice to finally close my eyes last night after a night time walking tour of some of Washington's more prolific monuments. With twelve students and a blogger in tow, Norman led us to the Vietnam Wall, Korean War Memorial, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and others. The monuments are cool during the day, but take on an entirely different persona when the lights go out and the focus is on them and only them. Seeing folks rubbing the names of lost loved ones off the Vietnam Wall is quite moving. More than once last night, I heard students talking highly of the experience. It seems like the perfect way to begin.

It rained on and off yesterday--varying between subtle spitting to heavy hurricane type moisture. We managed to dodge most of the drops on our tour, but it is nearly impossible to miss the moist, humid air that resonates throughout D.C.'s inner workings.

Today, we are off to do a little ... okay, a lot ... of walking near the White House before heading in to 1600 Pennsylvania for the morning press briefing and a visit with Press Secretary Dana Perino. Like Norm said last night, "the best way to learn about a city is on foot." I think the students are getting pretty excited for their two-week stay in "The District." Should be interesting.

I am optimistic that the wifi access issues are going to work themselves out. Look for more intensive, thoughtful ramblings--compliments of some student and Provizer sound bytes--coming in the next day or so. And, also a discussion of some more technical and logistical angles on the tools I'm using and why.

Until then, enough of my rambling ... here are a few pictures.