Category Archives: Washington, DC 2016

Trial of the Big Bad Wolf, The Pentagon and time with author David Hilfiker

Trial of the Big Bad Wolf

05/20/2016: Today we went to The Trial of the Big Bad Wolf which was a play at the Anacostia Playhouse in Southeast DC.  This is a neighborhood which has often been neglected and seen as unsafe.  Many community organizations are working hard to make sure children and families in SE have opportunities to enjoy the arts.  Anacostia Playhouse has a full schedule of plays throughout the year.  This play was special because the cast was children from the community.   The play was put on by the age group ranging from three to twelve years old.  The plot of the play was the Big Bad Wolf was on trial for destroying the three little Pig’s houses.  There were multiple characters that the Big Bad Wolf had hurt, for example, Little Red Riding Hood, the Boy Who Cried Wolf, and the lumber Jack. There was even a wolf pack that consisted of about eight little boys. The children sang and put on a wonderful performance that lasted about forty-five minutes.  The playhouse was packed and we enjoyed seeing a community-based performance.



05/17/2016: Today we received a personal tour of the Pentagon.  The Pentagon is the headquarters of the D.O.D., or US Department of Defense.  It is made up of ‎6,636,360 square feet, with several rings/corridors labeled A-E.  We met various petty officers/officers including staff sergeants, captains, colonels, and generals.  Those we met were all part of the Army, but there were lots of soldiers from all branches of the military working hard to defend our nation.  We also visited the area of the Pentagon that was destroyed during the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  It is one thing to have seen the attacks on TV, when most of our group was 6-7 years old at the time, and it’s another thing to be in the actual building, in the actual spot where the plane struck and killed many.  This area of the Pentagon was repaired within a year, and a memorial to those who lost their lives remains there. Our group as a whole felt so much more pride in our country from this experience, and it is one we will not soon forget. God Bless America.


Time with David Hilfiker – Brittany McCullock

During our three weeks in DC, we got the chance to meet with Dr. David Hilfiker. David practiced medicine in Washington DC in the 1980s and 90s. During the 1980s, he helped create Christ House, which is a medical recovery shelter for homeless men. Then in 1990, he took part in creating Joseph’s House, which is a community and hospice house for formerly homeless men dying of AIDS and other life threatening diseases. David and his family would live in both Christ and Joseph’s houses for a period of time. David would work with homeless men for many years and noticed that majority of the men he was helping were African Americans, and wanted to understand why. He would let his medical license expire, with little desire to really renew it, and would spend years learning African American history and the Urban Injustice in the DC area. He would even write a book called Urban Injustice, which looks at the history of inner cities and the social structures that keep people impoverished.

While David was in class with us we talked about many things, including, Sundown Towns, African American History and Mass Incarceration. We learned that Sundown Towns were towns that would have signs saying whites only after dark and at dusk they would blow a horn, telling African Americans in the town to leave or else something bad would happen. In these towns there was always a time line starting at the beginning of the Civil War until today showing all the major historical events and he would emphasize what was happening to African Americans at the time. Then on our last day of class we talked about Mass Incarceration, and we looked at a section of The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander.  Our eyes were opened to many injustices and patterns of discrimination that we had never heard about nor learned about from our history courses.  It was, at times, hard to accept that such blatant and persistent racism existed in the past and continues into the present.  David was able to open our eyes to this history.


Urban issues, Non-profits and Community Recreation in DC

Three weeks initially seemed like a long time to be in DC.  The first week we were learning how to navigate the city, open ourselves to a history of African Americans that most of us had never heard before, and realize that there are many perspectives about economic development, affordable housing, homelessness, mass incarceration, education and gentrification that we would have to sort through personally.  By the end of our time together we reflected on how much we had learned, how easy it was to find our way to the next event and that the time actually flew by.  Here are some of our highlights and significant moments over the three week period we lived on Taylor Street, NE at the Washington Community Scholar’s House.


Miles Walked – Approx 120 miles per person

Hours at Local Rec Center – 3 hours every day ~ 63 hours

Basketball games played – Over 130 games.

Service Hours at Capital Area Food Bank – 210 hours

Kids Meals packed- 407 boxes

Seniors Packets – 2160 boxes?

Sorted 1 huge pallet of 50 lb bags of potatoes

Different Types of Restaurants- Peruvian, Ethiopian, Greek, French, Chinese, South African, Thai, Italian.


Non-profit Visits and Advocacy Day

Capitol Area Food Bank – We spent 15 hours volunteering at the Capital Area Food Bank, which was within a 10 minute walk from the WCSC house. At these volunteer sessions, we packed over 400 boxes of meals for children to take home with them for weekend nutrition, and about 2160 boxes of meals for seniors which would be delivered to supplement their food supply. These meals went to people in the surrounding D.C. area, as well as in Maryland and Virginia.

MANNA – was one of the many non-profits that we visited during our time spent in Washington D.C.  On our very first day in DC we joined with MANNA and many other non-profit housing groups for Advocacy Day sponsored by the Coalition for Non-Profit Housing and Economic Development (CNHED) in the DC Council Chambers.  We were surrounded by an ocean of yellow shirts.  During advocacy day, we learned about the different city budgets for the various affordable housing programs and how these non-profits were meeting with council members to encourage them to support and increase funding for affordable housing.  While DC is experiencing tremendous economic growth many long-time residents are being displaced because of rising housing costs.  Many units of affordable housing have been lost to redevelopment of upscale housing.  After advocacy day, we went to MANNA to learn more about what they do.  We learned that MANNA is a non-profit program that buys and renovates houses and then sells them to lower-income families for an affordable price.  All throughout the trip, we met people who are involved in MANNA and also people who have purchased housing from MANNA.  MANNA is one of several non-profits that are committed to help solve the D.C. homelessness problem.

Sitar – Sitar Arts Center offers after school and summer programs for children around the city. They offer different kinds of classes to take that help them improve their art skills and express their creativity. Some of the courses that are offered include dance, writing, music, visual arts, digital arts, improv, and many more. Sitar gives students a safe place to go after school or in the summer where they can be in a positive learning environment.

Bishop John T. Walker School for Boys –This school focuses on helping educate low income boys, mainly African American, grades K-6. The school is funded by donations from people and organizations in the community. The school’s curriculum is unique because the first six weeks they do not follow a strict lesson plan. The first six weeks, the boys learn to know each other, develop relationships with their teachers, work on basic respect and getting along. This school is special because they require the parents to be active in their child’s education by attending required PTA meetings and helping them at home with homework. The teachers and staff all have a passion for not only making sure the boys get a good education, but also are concerned with helping them deal with situations outside of the school.

Joseph’s House – On May 18, we were able to visit Joseph’s House, a live-in home for those who are homeless and suffering from terminal illness.  It was truly inspiring to see how passionate and committed the staff are to providing community and support to those who are suffering and in need.  Although Joseph’s House is not a large organization, it has been able to touch many lives, most often in the most vulnerable moments.

Christ House – On the first day of our cross-cultural trip, the group was split into three smaller groups and sent on a scavenger hunt around the city. One group took a walk by Christ House and figure out what the statue was that was outside. On Wednesday May 28th, the whole group visited Christ House to learn more about what they do and their mission. Christ House was opened in December 1985 as the first 24-hour residential medical facility for homeless men and women. Patients are sent to Christ House from area hospitals, shelters, and clinics when they are suffering from a variety of illnesses like cancer, hypertension, kidney failure, diabetes, amputees, etc. Patients tend to stay at Christ House for roughly 45 days. Some leave sooner, and some stay much longer depending on their health condition. Several days during the week, Christ House provides services to other homeless people, like allowing them to come take showers and also providing them with clothing. Christ House focuses on the holistic aspect of nursing by really trying to get to know the people and gaining that nurse-patient relationship while also providing medical care that they need. The mission of Christ House is to provide comprehensive and compassionate health care to sick, homeless men and women in the District of Columbia, and to assist them in addressing critical issues to help break the cycle of homelessness.


We have been to numerous of restaurants around the District of Columbia. The foods here in the city is really great! For example, one of the Ethiopian restaurant called Keren Cafe and Restaurant is an utensils-free sort of place, and the food is so good! The food variety is amazing from Ethiopian to Greek to French, Chinese, South African/Portuguese, and other diverse foods. We have stepped out of our comfort zones and tried something new and we loved it! The places to check out in Washington, D.C. are Keren Cafe and Restaurant, Chinatown Express, Tsim Yung, Sala Thai, Zorba’s Cafe, and Nando’s Peri-Peri.

Turkey Thicket Community Recreation Center – 1 block from WCSC house

After class for the day, majority of the group would go to the Turkey Thicket Recreation Center. At the recreation center, some members of the group were involved in numerous basketball games with members of the community. The most popular games played on the court were 2 v. 2, “Pig” and “Horse”. Brian, Travis, Kim, and Bailey were so competitive with the game, that they kept a running scoreboard at the house. The girls were able to hold their ground and were able to bring home the win. Throughout the three weeks, the students became friends with some of the children and learned about each other. Other students played other sports, including soccer, football, and Whiffle ball. The Recreation Center became a part of our everyday routine and we enjoyed getting to spend time there with the neighborhood children.

Highlights – Nationals Game, Pentagon, Shaw Tour (S. Street), Armor of Light, Time with David, Trial of the Big Bad Wolf.

Nationals Game – Friday, May 13th we attended a Washington Nationals baseball game at Nationals Park against the Miami Marlins.  The weather was absolutely perfect, sunny and seventy-four degrees!  The game was a very low scoring game with a final score of 5-3, Nationals.  Almost everyone in our group sported the Nationals with different t-shirts and hats.  Everyone enjoyed watching the game, taking pictures of the field, eating the usual ballpark food such as hamburgers and hot dogs, catching baseballs during batting practice and of course everyone left the field happy with a Nats win!!


Washington, DC Haiku

Week 1


Washington DC

Cultural society

There are poor and rich.


Those who are oppressed

Working to make a living

Sometimes get the boot.


Things that happen here

Are sure to make history

For good and for bad.


– Aaron Cook, Mirella Rodriquez, Kylie Crawford, Stephanie Stoner, Brittany McCullock


Colorful flowers

People praying in church

Huge basilica.


Loud red flashing lights

Candles burning everywhere

Rain falling from sky.


Beautiful murals

Diversity in D.C.

The metro was fun.


– Brian Vinniski,  Lauren Seale,  Erica Hevener,  Kimberly Heatwole,  Haley Thomas


Seventh street walking

Good friendship is at arch

Coffee fills the air.


Concrete surrounds us

Multi-language signs and sounds

Connects the city.


People everywhere

Everyone was very nice

Met many along the way.


– Travis Dull,  Dixie Alexander,  Bailey McInnis,  Lauren Braithwaite