Washington, D.C. is most certainly the cultural capital of the world. In addition to the countless foreign embassies and international organizations present in D.C., the city serves as home to the full spectrum of values, beliefs, and tastes inherent in our own nation. And within the District there is no greater single embodiment of this cultural, ideological, and individual diversity than The George Washington University campus (GWU). Situated next door to the State Department, three blocks from the White House, across the street from the World Bank, and minutes from Downtown, GW offers unparalleled access to some of the most powerful institutions in the world—not that you would know it from the games of barefoot Frisbee out on the university’s yard, or creative writing classes sitting out on Kogan Plaza. What makes GWU truly remarkable is its ability to foster an engaging student environment in the center of the most international city in the world, simultaneously offering students new ideas or skills as well as the perfect setting in which to put them into practice.
Such has been the case ever since the university was chartered by Congress in 1821. Originally known as the Columbian College, the university moved to its current location in Foggy Bottom early in the 1920s. GWU currently occupies a vibrant section of Northwest D.C. stretching from Virginia Avenue to 19th Street, and from E Street north to K Street, the heart of the financial district in the city. In 1998, the school offered several satellite campuses in Northern Virginia and a sister campus known as Mount Vernon—located amid the rolling green hills of Foxhall Road. While the name and location may have changed over time, the university’s commitment to providing quality academics has not. With a student body that hails from all fifty of the United States, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and some 136 foreign countries, the university encourages scholarly research and learning that encompasses many perspectives. Each of the 10,000 undergraduates can choose from over 100 different major fields of study in any of seven different schools—from the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences to the world-renowned Elliot School of International Affairs.
Organizations and Tradition
When it’s time to take a study break, students can check out the activities going on in one of more than 350 student organizations ranging in focus from ethnic and religiously affiliated groups, to academic honor societies, to Xbox gaming clubs. Students watch the fall colors spread across the National Mall while playing intramural football or club lacrosse. Freshmen members of the Watergate Living and Learning Community learn about the 1972 political scandal while living in the building where it took place. Colleges from all over D.C. and the mid-Atlantic region gather in sold-out Lisner Auditorium to cheer on their own students at Step and Bhangra dance competitions. Exam week finds thousands of students in their pajamas migrating to the J Street eatery to enjoy Midnight Breakfast together. Seniors cheer the Graduation Countdown Clock at Lindy’s Red Lion, a popular hamburger joint just off campus. These represent just a fraction of the traditions that build a true college spirit in the middle of D.C.
For those ready to venture beyond campus, the city also represents the ultimate playground for college students. Less than five minutes from campus, students can attend free concerts every night on the Millennium Stage of the Kennedy Center. The Foggy Bottom area is surrounded by neighborhoods known for their own culinary treats and tasteful stores—just spend an afternoon walking through Dupont Circle, Adams Morgan, or Georgetown and you’ll find it hard to resist the smells of Malaysian, Italian, Indian, Moroccan, Thai, and Spanish cuisine. Hop the Metro on Saturday evenings to U Street and Cardoza for some of the best jazz on the East Coast, not to mention Latin dancing; right around the corner you’ll find the legendary 9:30 Club, home to the most popular bands, seven days a week. Grab the Blue Line on Sunday mornings to Eastern Market and browse among fresh seafood, vegetables, pastries, and fine local artwork. Socially or professionally, the city offers an infinite number of possibilities; for those students willing to seek them out, something truly happens here.
The George Washington University is an institution constantly moving forward. A strong academic reputation continues to grow thanks to a strong commitment to education and innovation. The opportunities available to students for social and professional engagement are constantly growing due to the university’s premiere location. The diversity and culture present in Washington, D.C. is echoed by the liberal and engaging learning environment that GWU’s faculty creates, offering to students a college experience that challenges, motivates, and equips students to enter successful careers at home and abroad. Visitors often hear “Something Happens Here.” This sentiment is no stranger to students at all levels on campus; the feeling in the air is of more excitement, more success, and more achievement about to come. It goes beyond the new buildings, classrooms, and halls that provide space for students to live, learn, and play. It encompasses something far more intangible—a feeling that to succeed, to achieve your goals and dreams, to learn, requires an element of risk. It requires an understanding of the diversity of our nation and our world, a desire to learn from the various cultures and perspectives encountered. GWU offers students a glimpse of the innumerable cultures and perspectives present around the globe, instilling in them the confidence and the skills necessary to face challenges and accept the risks that learning and life offer, to build airplanes no matter where they go. Something has always happened here, but as anyone on campus will tell you, even greater things are getting ready to happen.