Honor students take annual trip to D.C. to engage in history

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Forty Fairmont State students toured the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, September 7.

The visit was part of the annual Honors Field Day in Washington. The Honors students were joined by international and other students. 

The museum was chosen by the officers of the Honors Association because 2019 marks the 400th Anniversary of the introduction of slavery in North America with the arrival of the first Africans to be sold into bondage at Jamestown. 

“After visiting the African American Museum of History and Culture last Saturday, I was able to take away a deeper understanding of the suffering and injustice African Americans experienced during the rise of slavery and after,” Angelica Starcovic, the president of the Honors Association, said. “Seeing the primary sources, different artifacts, and listening to their stories gave me a new perspective on American history as a whole.”

Kayleigh Casto, a second-year Communications major from Williamstown, said, touring the museum was. A phenomenal experience. 

“I learned about various people within my interests in military history and journalism that I had never heard of prior. Notable people, like Robert Churchwell, the first African American journalist at an all-white southern newspaper, and Cornelius H. Charlton, an African American recipient of the Medal of Honor,” she said. “To see Churchwell's typewriter and Charlton's medal instilled in me an appreciation for those whose names aren't written in textbooks or spoken about daily. For their legacies to be displayed at the National Museum of African American History and Culture for millions of visitors to witness is the most valuable asset of NMAAHC.

Abigail Short, a junior majoring in Psychology, said at one point, she had no words. The experience is something that will stick with her for a long time. 

“There was a point I felt speechless and in awe as a section of the Declaration of Independence was poised on the wall which made me appreciate the diversity that one can experience in America,” she said. 

Amber D. Meadows, a first-year pre-med student from Ghent, WV, said the different levels of the museum offered some new insights and facts. She was excited to experience it all. 

“Although I had so much fun while exploring this Museum, it brought a deeper meaning to me. I was moved the by horrific conditions many African Americans endured throughout the era of slavery and segregation,” she said. “I was astonished by the hope and strength they maintained throughout the hardships they were forced to face. I was able to find a whole new appreciation for African American culture.”

“The National Museum of African American History and Culture is a truly awe-inspiring place. It takes the visitor to the heart of an emotional journey, helping them to better understand the diversity and challenges that most African Americans have faced throughout history,” Robert E. Sisk, a Bridgeport native, majoring in Chemistry and Biology, said.  “I am thankful to have had the opportunity to visit this most recent addition to the Smithsonian Institute.” 

The students also visited the National Gallery of Art where they viewed a number of the highlights of the collection, including Leonardo da Vinci’s Ginerva de’Benci.  

Erin Rice, a first-year Architecture and Spanish major from Wheeling, said she was excited to visit D.C. again because she had never been to the National Gallery of Art. 

“After I learned about the history of specific paintings and artists, the National Gallery of Art was a great learning experience for me. I learned more about famous artists and the technique used across hundreds of years and how it has evolved,” she said. “As an architecture major, I was blown away by the interior layout and design of The National Gallery of Art building and also the works of art that included detailed buildings from hundreds of years in the past. I am so grateful that I was able to go on this trip with the Honors Program.” 

Originating in 2000, the Honors Field Day takes students to the National Gallery of Art as part of the Honors Program’s efforts to expand students’ exposure to culture. Students routinely visit another site in the capital, chosen by the officers of the Honors Association. They have the National Holocaust Museum, the Archives, the Capitol, and the White House.