Not Your Average College Course | The Washington Center

Not Your Average College Course

Part of being a student-intern through The Washington Center is taking an evening course once a week. Sorry, you're not allowed to completely forget about school just yet!


The subjects for these courses range from foreign policy to criminal justice, and are great for students who are afraid of missing their academic engagement while spending a semester away from school. As a graduating senior, I've already taken the classes I need for my degree, so foreign policy and many of the political classes were out of the question. Instead, I registered for a class called "Scandalous Washington."


Professor Gueli on our first tour


I picked Scandalous Washington because it didn't seem like an "average" class - many class periods are spent on tours throughout D.C. guided by Professor Cindy Gueli. As an author, media professional and actress, Cindy Gueli is definitely not your average history professor. I'm a big "House of Cards" fan, so I knew I recognized my new professor on the first day of class, I just couldn't put my finger on it right away...


Oh yeah, THAT'S where!


In addition to her role on "House of Cards," Professor Gueli wrote the book "Lipstick Brigade" and has worked as a reporter and producer for VH1 and A&E. And not only does she have a class titled Scandalous Washington, but a webseries, too!


Definitely not your average history professor.


Our first trip for class was to Lafayette Square to discuss the scandalous history of the people who first lived and worked in D.C. We started at the Octagon House and traveled through Lafayette Park where Professor Gueli told us the backstories behind each of the statues. We also got our fair share of ghost stories! My favorite story was about the mysterious suicide of Clover Adams, which you can learn more through Professor Gueli's webseries.


The front of The Octagon House


Unfortunately, I was extremely sick during our second field trip, when the class went to Professor Gueli's alma mater (Georgetown University) to visit the infamous Exorcist stairs. I was especially bummed, because my roommates and I watched the movie for the first time together about a week before the trip to prepare ourselves. According to my roommates, the ambiance was very creepy, especially since the tour was at night. My goal is to visit the steps AND the cat cafe in Georgetown before my semester is over.


Our third class meeting was at Ford's Theater, the site of President Lincoln's assassination. This trip was my favorite so far, because I love the rush of being somewhere where a huge historical event took place. We walked through the Petersen House where Lincoln took his last breath, and retraced the funeral procession across the United States. We also visited Wok And Roll, the site of Mary Surratt's famous boarding house where the conspiracy to assassinate Lincoln began. Now Wok and Roll serves delicious sushi and karaoke, but during the mid-1800s, it was a meeting place for confederate conspirators.


The stage at Ford's Theater today


Our most recent assignment was to travel to U Street - without the guidance of our professor this time - to explore the sites of the 1968 riots. My classmates and I took pictures, enjoyed the street art and fulfilled our one requirement for the trip: eat at Ben's Chili Bowl. For those of you who aren't familiar with Ben's Chili Bowl, I'll drop some links right here for you. We gorged ourselves on chili and cheese, which I'm positive helped our historical adventure come full circle.



In between the field trips, there is a little bit of homework. For the course so far, we've read a novel, watched documentaries and done research for both group and individual projects. Even though the class isn't all fun and tours, it has been incredible to be able to learn about history and then go see where the events actually happened. Professor Gueli makes class enjoyable while teaching the amazing history behind the city we've called home for the semester. I would highly recommend this class to all future TWC student-interns!


For more pictures from my trips, add me on Facebook. And be sure to follow Professor Gueli on Twitter for more interesting history about D.C.!


Read Lydia's previous blog posts

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