The week that I spent shadowing Congresswoman Virginia Foxx is on the top of my list of most memorable weeks I’ve ever had. I was interested in spending the week with her on the Capitol Hill to see our political system at work for myself.

Foxx taught me a lot while I was with her, and I realized very quickly that she is an educator. She gave me a ton of stuff to read and all of it was applicable to what we were going to be doing the next day. I was assigned to read the newspaper every morning, and it was the first time I didn’t just read the comic section.

One of the things I learned was that members of Congress literally never get a break, at least not Congresswoman Foxx. At one point we were running in order to catch up to the underground subway to the Capital before it left.

Something that surprised me was how open her office was. People were always coming in to talk to her. I was allowed to be in all of her constituent meetings and even some of her meetings with other House and Senate members. A very important quality that stuck out to me was how easy it was to talk to her. Anyone that came into her office was grateful for her taking the time to listen.

My favorite times were when Foxx and I talked one-on-one because that was when I learned the most. When she asked if I had any desire to become a politician, I told her I didn’t know yet. Her advice to me was to pursue my dream of business and marketing first, and after I make a sustainable living to pursue politics. This would allow me to stick to my morals and not worry about being reelected for financial security.

While many people say that our political system is completely broken, my time in Washington provided me reason to think otherwise. The day-to-day work isn’t glamorous, but it’s done with a smile and integrity by many members genuinely seeking to make a difference for the people they represent.

Benjamin Stewart

junior at Watauga High School

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