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Hands-on Learning In Washington D.C.
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The next Close Up trip will be in February 9-14, 2020.  See the informational slide show at the bottom of this page.
Close Up is a fast paced and interactive programs offering exciting, challenging and unforgettable activities while breathing in all DC has to offer. From famous landmarks to meeting government officials, Close Up not only allows you to see your government, but to also experience it.  Washington D.C. is the backdrop for Close Up as students participate in small group workshops of 15-20, come face-to-face with leading policy experts, members of Congress and influential lobbyists during question and answer sessions and for workshops.  Students participate in debates and simulations.  They interact with students from across the country representing diverse backgrounds and viewpoints. 
Comments from former Southwest Close Up participants and parents:
  • Personally I really enjoyed the fact that we were paired with people we don’t really know and people with different political views. The days were always busy. Everyday was action packed and filled with different sights and activities. One of my most favorite parts of the trip was on Tuesday when we worked on lobbying and had a debate about real government bill proposals. I have a new vision and a new sense of hope and belief. All in all the Close Up trip was very good trip, I got to see a lot of  new things meet new people and learn more about how our government works. It was a great experience and I would love to do it again. Faydane 2018

  • Thank you so much for taking our daughter to Washington for Close Up. She had a wonderful time, and feels now more than ever that she would like to work in DC someday. She loved meeting the kids from other parts of the country, and she found it really helpful to talk to one of Keith Ellison’s staffers about what kind of college major can help you get a job in DC. She loved visiting all the museums and monuments, the Air and Space museum and The National Museum of African American History and Culture being her favorites. She was also thrilled to participate in the mock Congress as a lobbyist and to see her bill pass. I hope you had a great time as well, and thanks again for doing such a fantastic job with the kids.  Rachel, parent of 2018 participant

  • My personal best parts of the trip were the mock congress, visiting the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and meeting with Representative Ellison. The 9/11 memorial was also harrowing and memorable. Colton 2018

  • Thank you so much for offering this amazing opportunity to these kids. My son keeps talking about it. He’s looking to apply for an internship or volunteer with Keith Ellison. He says Keith is his “new favorite person ever”.  He loved seeing Bernie but mostly Keith. He loved the performer X and his story. He loved the 911 Memorial, the new National Museum of African American History and Culture, visiting the Saudi embassy, and the lobbyist who spoke. And the fries at Spike’s place. Kimberly, parent of 2018 participant

  • My favorite things about Close Up were getting to sit in on a Senate committee hearing and see real change happen, talking to students with different opinions and perspectives while finding common ground, and learning so much and being inspired by Keith Ellison which was amazing. Erica 2018

  • My top things about Close Up included making new friends with diverse perspectives from all around the country; getting to know SW students better; and getting inside the world of politics--being fully immersed in it--from the lobbyist seminar to Capitol Hill day to the embassy visit. I also enjoyed exploring the Smithsonian Museums and visiting neighborhoods like Dupont Circly and Georgetown.  Will 2018

  • Close Up was an amazing program...the amount of positivity emerging from all the kids caused me to break out of my shell and participate. I learned so many new things and saw almost every aspect of DC that most others don't get to see. I will be forever grateful for this opportunity.   Joniesha 2016

  • I loved Close Up! I experienced so much in Washington. Meeting kids from across the country was awesome and we made friends from California, Louisana and Colorado.  This really has been a life changing experience.  Joe 2016

  • The time spent on Capitol Hill really had an impact on my daughter and the “theoretical” became “real".  As a constituent, she is exposed to those who represent her in Congress through the local news media - but meeting these individuals in person seemed to give her a new perspective - that these are real people, not just names in the newspaper or on TV, and they are doing a job.  And sometimes that job is a little weird, like when Amy Klobuchar spoke on the Senate floor and there were only three or four other Senators present. And the Senate Finance Committee grilling the director of the IRS - she was amazed to learn that there can be serious mismanagement in the government.  Another wonderful benefit of going on this trip was the opportunity to get to know other students at SWHS whom she would not necessarily have become acquainted with otherwise.  She was also quite interested to observe regional differences among the other groups of students in terms of how they behaved towards each other and “outsiders”.  Joyce, parent of 2016 participant

  • The Close Up trip to DC opened my eyes to a more conservative point of view and reminded me that good people can have political differences. I also learned more about the way our government works than I ever have in a classroom. Great trip.  Lauritz 2016

  • The Close Up trip was an extraordinary experience for my son. So many experiences excited him that he called and texted frequently during the trip. He appreciated that being so close to the action was a stunning privilege and came away not only with a better understanding of the legislative process, but also of the individuals representing him on Captiol Hill. Bob, parent of 2016 participant.

  • Close Up for me was a GREAT experience!  Meeting people from different backgrounds and opinions was one of the best things to experience for someone that has been in one single area around the U.S. Close Up will be an unforgettable part of my life, as I got to know more about how the government works and also visiting historical monuments.  Josue 2016

  • “Close Up had an impact on me that no book ever could have given me. Seeing the "real life" politics in person can move a person’s general interest in politics and what could be done if a person has the drive to get something done.  Close Up is for anyone who wants to expand their horizon and knowledge of how policies are made for the people and how they impact different people. It’s an amazing life changing experience that nothing compares too”
  • Another former participant wrote “Being a part of Close Up Washington DC was by far the most memorable program I participated in during high school. I learned so much about our government and history though Close-Up. Close-Up is a truly distinctive program and is a unique learning experience. It is amazing to get the opportunity to physically be present in the place you’re learning about.   Upon the completion of this program, I felt more determined and more passionate to pursue a career that incorporated aspects of American Government. I would recommend Close-Up to any student because it is essential to understand how our system of government functions and Close –Up educates its participants in an engaging and fun way.”  
  • Parents of a former Southwest Close Up participant says “As parents we are so impressed with the work that Close-Up does. It is amazing that this program is offered to high school students. Our daughter had a positive experience when it came to the quality of the trip. We are also blown away with how much she knows about government.  If this program was offered to adults we would be the first to participate.”  
For more information please contact Ms. Caroline Hooper



PDF Close Up 2018   --  Informational Slide Show