From D.C. Tourist to Tour Guide

From D.C. Tourist to Tour Guide

Whether you are a tourist or a local, it is usually quite easy to spot people who are clearly out of their norm. Washington, D.C. is one of the best places in the country to observe this phenomenon, especially around the monuments in the springtime. On one corner of the monument, you have an Eastern Asian family examining a map, to your left you have middle-school girls trying to capture the perfect jumping picture and finally, to your right, you have a daily runner who just enjoys jogging with a view.


Since January, the young professionals of The Washington Center (TWC) have gone from full-blown tourists staring blankly at a map (on their cellphones), to the joggers giving directions to those lost amongst the monuments.


“Not Tour Guides, Just Private Know-it-Alls”


Recently, after a long work week, my roommate’s best friends came up for a weekend adventure.


Side Bar: If any of my humble readers may be wondering, there is a guest policy at the Residential Academic Facility, better known as the RAF. You may have guests, as long as all of your roommates agree and all guests are signed in upon entrance of the building (not unreasonable, if you ask me).


Tour Guide Mekaella


We began at Union Station and walked to the Supreme Court and Capitol Building while discussing the building of the dome and the current renovation it is receiving. We then went inside the Library of Congress (a.k.a.LOC) for a guided, fascinating tour lead by none other than… my roommate! Mekaella is currently an intern at the Library doing American Sign Language Interpretation.


She explained numerous aspects of the LOC’s history, architecture and decoration. The job of the Library of Congress is to providing unbiased research to assist representatives in making governmental decisions. This may be a surprise to some, but the current Library of Congress is not the original. The first building was burned in 1814 during the British invasion. After the destruction, Thomas Jefferson offered his personal book collection as a start to rebuild the Library of Congress. A majority of his collection is on display to this day inside the library. Each of Jefferson’s remaining books are kept in a sealed glass book shelf with controlled lighting and temperature in order to properly preserve them.


Photo taken by Nicole M. Decker

Jefferson's Collection


One final thing I thought was interesting: one Roman Goddess in particular is the “symbol” of the Library of Congress. Her name is Minerva, and she represents wisdom and learning. Uniquely, Minerva is not only book smart! According to Roman mythology, she bares her mother’s weapons and armor as well. She is depicted vastly and in numerous ways throughout the library.


Photo taken by Nicole M. Decker

Minerva, Guardian of Peace


All the decorative features inside the LOC are symbolic in some way; they are the furthest things from just pictures on the walls. For example, the giant mosaic of Minerva (above) depicted as the guardian of peace is not just art but an entire story. Simply put, her surroundings and personal effects symbolize that knowledge comes before war, as her armor is laid aside, and her focus is on the scroll.


After we finished our tour through the Library of Congress, we continued on to all of the tourist hot spots: The White House, Washington Monument, World War II Memorial and lastly, the Lincoln Memorial. While we toured through, Mekaella and I told little anecdotes and fun facts to our guests while they asked any question that came to mind. As for the questions we did not know, we would just look them up! So, what began as my roommate and I being the “know-it-alls" turned out to be a learning experience for us as well.


As always, I must keep my humble readers on budget. My key feature this week, The Library of Congress, is 100% free to the public! So, go soak in some incredible American culture and leave your wallet at home! Unless you are planning to visit the gift store, of course!


Until Next Time,


Read Nicole's previous blog posts here

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