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Forging Bonds and Understanding in D.C.

Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership

Forging Bonds and Understanding in D.C.

General Powell talking with fellows during their annual trip to DC this October.Annual Washington, D.C. experience offers fellows an insider's view of the national capital.

Not even a government shutdown got in the way of the Colin L. Powell School’s early-October trek to Washington, D.C., a trip for Powell School fellows that has become an annual tradition valued by students and staff alike.

For the past three years, students receiving Powell fellowships—Colin Powell Leadership, Partners for Change, Community Engagement, and others—have had the chance to make new bonds and forge professional connections in an annual trip to the nation’s capital. The packed three-day tour included meeting leading policy experts at think tanks, participating in Q&As with directors of trailblazing nonprofits, connecting with mentors at alumni dinners, taking in a night of theater at the Shakespeare Theatre Company, and, of course, conversing with General Powell himself.

Within an hour of the bus rolling in from New York, Gen. Powell visited with the fellows during an intimate conversation held at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He recalled his time at City College, reflected on the tumultuous 1960s and the beginnings of his military career, and touched on Congressional politics while advocating for policy measures he considers crucial for the United States to live up to its democratic ideals.

An Intellectually Demanding World
Powell counseled students to take advantage of their time at City College and to take on the challenges ahead. "As young people," he said, "get yourselves ready for a world that will be more intellectually demanding and require higher levels of skill." Speaking to the budget bill stalemate over Republicans' aversion to the Affordable Care Act and citing his long-term reliance on “socialized healthcare” during his military career, Powell expressed his support for universal healthcare and said, "Have faith in this country. It gets a little noisy, always has, but you're the ones who will fix it."

"The D.C. trip offers our students one of the most important moments in their fellowship experience,” said Associate Director of Student Leadership Michael Busch. “For many, it marks the first time they've been to the nation's capital, and it gives all of them the opportunity to meet with policymakers, NGO representatives, and CCNY alumni who are living and working in Washington and who have a lot to say about pursuing a career in the capital.”

Bedrock Relationships
Fellows visited with directors and policy staff at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, Center for American Progress, Sustainable DC, FHI 360, the National Disability Rights Network, and Teach for America. The Powell School’s Associate Director of Student Leadership Michael Busch led the trip with support from staff program coordinators who work closely with students on campus.

“The most valuable takeaway of our time in D.C.,” said Busch, “is that fellows deepen their bonds with one another—relationships which will be the bedrock of their personal and professional networks long after they leave the program and City College."