Columns / Discourse / January 21, 2015

Bursting the Knox bubble: Washington D.C.

What do people mean when they call the post-grad world the “real” world? What makes life outside of academia so unrealistic?

Junior Casey Mendoza stands at the podium of the National Press Club's Ballroom, during a day trip with other students in the Journalism and New Media program of the Washington Semester. The National Press Club holds events and lectures relevant to the field of media, journalism and public affairs. (Photo courtesy of Casey Mendoza) (Photo courtesy of Casey Mendoza)

Junior Casey Mendoza stands at the podium of the National Press Club’s Ballroom, during a day trip with other students in the Journalism and New Media program of the Washington Semester. The National Press Club holds events and lectures relevant to the field of media, journalism and public affairs. (Photo courtesy of Casey Mendoza) (Photo courtesy of Casey Mendoza)

Personally, I’ve always imagined the distinction between the college world and the real world as similar to the idea of the “Knox bubble,” or the separation between campus and the rest of Galesburg. Not very often do students venture outside of the bubble, and when they do, little interaction is made between the two communities.

The Knox community is tightly knit and generally similar in age and academic aspirations. We’re students surrounded by other students, and we’re all confined in this academic world for so long that we sometimes forget what it’s like to be around people of different ages, occupations, backgrounds, etc. This is the difference between the “Knox” world and the “real” world.

Breaking out of the bubble is difficult when you’re on campus, which is why so many of us take the opportunity to study abroad. We try to immerse ourselves in completely different cultures, meet new people, try new things and get a grasp on who we are and who we can be when we’re far away from home.

The National Press Club hosted viewing parties for the 2015 State of the Union Address, one open to the public and the other for members only. There, people of different backgrounds mingled and watched the speech. The National Press Club holds events and lectures relevant to the field of media, journalism and public affairs. (Photo courtesy of Casey Mendoza)

The National Press Club hosted viewing parties for the 2015 State of the Union Address, one open to the public and the other for members only. There, people of different backgrounds mingled and watched the speech. The National Press Club holds events and lectures relevant to the field of media, journalism and public affairs. (Photo courtesy of Casey Mendoza)

I’ve begun considering my time in D.C. to be a bit like a gap semester. I have fewer academic responsibilities and zero obligations to student organizations. Most of my attention is set on internships, and I’m spending more time wandering around a new, big city instead of a campus (I opted out of the American University meal plan and on-campus housing option).

Here, I’m as much of a working journalist as I am a student.

Last night, I watched the State of The Union at the National Press Club’s public viewing party. Gathered in the small room were students getting out of class, people just getting off of work, businessmen, writers, retail workers, etc. Being free and open to the public, people of different backgrounds showed up to watch the speech.

Gil Klein, former president of the National Press Club and current program advisor of the Washington Program for Journalism and New Media, talks about the club’s collection of photographs. Behind him is a rare photo of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in a wheelchair. (Photo courtesy of Casey Mendoza)

Gil Klein, former president of the National Press Club and current program advisor of the Washington Program for Journalism and New Media, talks about the club’s collection of photographs. Behind him is a rare photo of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in a wheelchair. (Photo courtesy of Casey Mendoza)

A middle-aged man and his wife teared up at the story of Rebekah and Ben Erler. Another older woman gave out an “amen” to an increased minimum wage and paid sick leave. Another man rolled his eyes at Obama’s talk about climate change. Together, all of us sat and laughed at Boehner’s face and collectively groaned whenever applause lasted more than five seconds.

If I were at Knox, I’d be doing the same thing, but with people who may not personally understand the repeated idea of hard times as well as some of the people at the viewing party.

Being in the room with so many people, as they all reacted differently to the slew of topics and goals being thrown at us, felt very real. This was the group of people Obama directed his speech to. We weren’t a group of just liberal arts students; we were people coming from different bubbles, taking in the speech from our own lenses.

Casey Mendoza
Casey Mendoza is a senior majoring in political science and double minoring in philosophy and Chinese. This is her fourth year working at The Knox Student, previously as a photographer and photo editor. Casey is the recipient of two awards from the Illinois College Press Association for photo essays. During the summer of 2014, Casey also worked as a photography intern for the Galesburg Register-Mail, covering local community events and working alongside award-winning reporters and photojournalists. During the winter and spring of 2015, Casey studied journalism and new media in Washington DC, learning more about the world's political arena, networking and gaining a greater understanding of the field. There, she worked as a Production Assistant at a documentary film company, The Biscuit Factory. During the summer of 2015, Casey will help produce a documentary on airline reservation technology for the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC).

Tags:  "real world" capitol correspondent Casey Mendoza National Press Club state of the union washington d.c.

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Casey Mendoza
Casey Mendoza is a senior majoring in political science and double minoring in philosophy and Chinese. This is her fourth year working at The Knox Student, previously as a photographer and photo editor. Casey is the recipient of two awards from the Illinois College Press Association for photo essays. During the summer of 2014, Casey also worked as a photography intern for the Galesburg Register-Mail, covering local community events and working alongside award-winning reporters and photojournalists. During the winter and spring of 2015, Casey studied journalism and new media in Washington DC, learning more about the world's political arena, networking and gaining a greater understanding of the field. There, she worked as a Production Assistant at a documentary film company, The Biscuit Factory. During the summer of 2015, Casey will help produce a documentary on airline reservation technology for the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC).




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